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Often a character in a work dresses in an outfit practically identical to an outfit worn by another character or Real Life person, as a kind of Cosplay on the character's part, and a Shout-Out on the part of the costumer, designer, and/or artist.
The Whole Costume Reference is when you take the cosplay part out. The character is just wearing that outfit. There is no indication or clue within the work that this character is dressing as that other person. Also:
- There's no fan convention.
- It's not Halloween.
- It's not a costume party.
- No one mentions what the costume is based on.
This can include live action works, when the costume actually is the costume worn in an earlier work, as a form of Prop Recycling. Many low budget works do this. But again, there has to be no mention or clue of the work it was reused from.
Contrast Dresses the Same (in that wearing the same outfit is seen as bad).
- Trinity Blood ended with Esther being crowned queen and wearing a gown just like one Queen Elizabeth I wore. But not her coronation dress.
- In Gundam Wing, Relena's Queen dress is the same one Audrey Hepburn wore as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday.
- Early on in Black Butler, Ciel has to cross-dress as a girl to go to a dance. His dress is a near replica of one worn by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
- Berserk has The Berserker Armor when Guts wears the berserker armor it became similar looking to Batman
- Rosario + Vampire: Moka, seeking help from a Chinese Mystic/Cosplay fan, was recently required to don a Urusei Yatsura styled tiger-striped 2-piece bikini and boots [dead link].
- In episode 16 of Love Hina, Naru Narusegawa plays the role of Sanzo in a rather loosely-followed play of "Sayuki". In an opening shot, she is held captive on a chain leash by the "bad guy", and is wearing very similar clothes to slave Leia.
- In Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, in the martial arts episode, Sasshi is given an "Outfit That Makes You Feel Stronger" by Eutas. The outfit, of course, being a yellow tracksuit with a black stripe.
- Ms. Aki wears Ginrei's dress from the Giant Robo OVA in the same episode.
- In one of the Project A-ko movies, B-ko's father dresses as Elvis.
- Utako of Man of Many Faces wears a dress from My Fair Lady on one of her birthdays.
- In episode 24 of Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura wears a dress that is rather similar to Alice's. This presumably is an intentional allusion, since the episode's plot revolves around size-changing antics.
- In Bleach, Kugo Ginjo's attire is an exact replica of Squall Leonhart's, right down to the necklace and fur-collar. The only noticeable difference is his shoes.
- In Paprika, the eponymous heroine wears another eponymous hero's outfit. During the scene where Paprika dives into Chiba's dream, she wears Monkey's iconic outfit from Monkey (Saiyuki in Japan), complete with staff and riding a flying cloud. Subtly Justified, as Paprika has powers in the realm of dreams that allow her to project herself however she pleases. It's easy to assume a trendy young Japanese Action Girl might have a childhood connection to Monkey.
- In Paranoia Agent, Li'l Slugger is at one point seen wearing the armor of Erdrick from Dragon Quest I.
- Inuyasha: Kagome's little brother Sota is dressed just like Conan Edogawa for his date.
- The bejeweled ermine dress in Rose of Versailles is heavily based on this dress worn by Marie Leszczynska, wife of Lois XV.
- In House of M, Magneto's costume (and medals, and pose, and backdrop, and... yeah) was taken from, of all people, the Spanish king Juan Carlos.
- Kefong in The Intimates wears Bruce Lee's tracksuit from Game of Death in his first year at the Seminary... and one with the colors reversed in his second.
- A number of characters have worn Bruce Lee's Game of Death tracksuit, the Bride in Kill Bill being the most famous.
- From the James Bond movies:
- Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) in The World Is Not Enough appears in a Shorttank outfit based on Lara Croft
- In Die Another Day, Jinx (Halle Berry) wears the bikini top, Shorttank and survival knife ensemble made famous by Ursula Andress in Dr. No.
- Christine's dress in The Phantom of the Opera when she sings "Think of Me" is inspired by one worn by Elisabeth of Bavaria (also the subject of the musical Elisabeth).
- And in the act II opener, when the Phantom crashes the "Masquerade," he's dressed in head-to-foot scarlet, with a death's-head mask. Darkly funny if you know what you're looking at, incomprehensible otherwise.
- In Oscar, Lisa's Fairytale Wedding Dress is a copy of the dress from It Happened One Night.
- In Maskerade, the Discworld parody of Phantom of the Opera, Death himself is wearing Erik's Masque Of The Red Death outfit, with the only explanation being I do like to get into the spirit of the thing.
- Paul Kidby's sketch of Queen Magrat's complicated dress from Lords and Ladies looks exactly like the dress worn by Elizabeth I in the Darnley portrait.
- Land of the Giants had an episode where one of the girls ends up in the skating dress from the beginning of Snow White and The Three Stooges.
- It was said the reason Klinger stopped crossdressing on Mash was that he had worn just about every dress in the studio wardrobe stock that would fit him. So inevitably many of the dresses would be this trope.
- In the Firefly episode "The Train Job," the Alliance soldiers are dressed in costumes recycled from Starship Troopers. (To save money.)
- Similarly, the soldiers' suits were also used in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.
- Those costumes show up everywhere. It's a testament to how sturdy the suits actually are. They were used in at least two TV shows and were eventually re-sold back to the production of the sequels.
- Similarly, the soldiers' suits were also used in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.
- When Tony daydreams about Kate in NCIS, she's wearing Gogo's school uniform from Kill Bill. This is entirely appropriate for film buff and Handsome Lech Tony.
- All the time on The Amazing Race with locals and Pit Stop Greeters.
- In the Beyoncé music video for the song Countdown she is seen wearing this which is based (also with the haircut) on the Audrey Hepburn outfit from Funny Face.
- The picture is of Anne Boleyn wearing an ermine-lined gown, and the Ice Princess from the Spyro series wearing an almost identical one.
- The Military Suit from Fable III is similar to Richard Sharpe
- Adventure Quest Worlds has Gravelyn when she is taken prisoner by Noxus and Vordred during the Shadowfall War, Gravelyn gets put into a Slave Bikini [dead link] which looks quite similar to the one that Leia wore in Return of the Jedi.
- The singer in a stage of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters on the SNES has Madonna's pointy bra.
- Like the film meta-example above, Chie's persona Tomoe in Persona 4 wears a distinctive bright yellow tracksuit.
- From the same game, Yosuke constantly wears a pair of headphones around his neck. In his case, though, it's also a Casting Gag, since Yosuke and Persona 3's Main Character are both voiced by the same actor.
- In Final Fantasy V, Bartz' Dragoon armor is Kain's from the previous game, while both his and Galuf's Magic Knight outfits are Minwu's getup from Final Fantasy II.
- The armors in the Overlord games are heavily based on Sauron's. Although there is a lampshade hanging in Overlord Dark Legend, when a villager almost says what it looks like, but then says he can't say who.
- The first prince outfit in Etrian Odyssey III is extremely close to the king's outfit in My Life As a King.
- Star Wars The Force Unleashed II shows paintings of several Neimoidians in the clothes of Napoleon and Marie Antoinette. This only makes sense in the german version, where they have french accents, every other dub portrais them as different nations.
- Solid Snake in Boktai 2, unusually for a video game character Cameo, doesn't wear his own Memetic Outfit but instead wears a Whole Costume Reference to one of the outfits worn by Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (the outfit he wears when ambushed and forced to hang himself in the hotel).
- An early prototype design for Rosalina showed her wearing a dress and hairstyle similar to Cinderella's.
- In DLC Quest, the NPC Random dresses as Cloud Strife from (the original) Final Fantasy VII, although with long sleeves and less silly hair. His Leitmotif is also a Suspiciously Similar Song version of the battle theme from the same game. He doesn't have a personality anything like Cloud's, and his only purpose is to force the player to pay for an expensive item to get him to leave you alone.
- This happens all the time in Erfworld, due to the hundreds of pop-culture references the characters make unconsciously. Significant ones include Ansom fighting while dressed as Evel Knievel, Jillian dressing as Sandy from Grease while Vinny and his group dress as West Side Story thugs, several of Wanda's costumes referencing horror movies, and Jack veiling himself as Kain from Final Fantasy IV. In addition, this is a game mechanic that gives them more bonuses.
- The man in this & a few following cartoons of The KAMics isn't a Mountie, he just likes dressing as one.
- Zoe in Sluggy Freelance steels her nerves to join the boys' adventure, dressed as Lara Croft. (Is it possible the other costume changes in the Stormbringer arc were this trope?)
- In A Very Potter Sequel, Lucius Malfoy dresses like Jareth, the Goblin King. They both even have long blonde hair!
- In an episode of Gummi Bears, Calla wears a dress that's just like Snow White's. No reason is given it looks like that, it just is.
- There was A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode where they encountered a gamer girl who wore a pair of shoes identical to those worn by Sonic the Hedgehog. Given that shoes are all Sonic wears, I'd say that counts as a "Whole Costume Reference".
- An episode of Science Court had the resident idiot prosecutor Doug Savage parachute onto the scene in an Rebel Alliance pilot suit, for no reason whatsoever.
- In The Venture Brothers, Dr. Girlfriend wears a pink skirt and jacket associated with Jackie Kennedy, whose name is
never mentionedbrought up, to the confusion of Dr. Girlfriend.
"Who the hell is... Jacqueline Onassis?"
- The scene in question had Dr. Girlfriend playing a party game where the other person had to describe the person whose name was taped on her back. Cue the confusion when the other guest ends up describing her as well as Jackie Kennedy, followed by the above line after it ended.
- Even stranger, she briefly thought she was hearing herself described anyway.
- Dr. Orpheus' outfit is specifically based on the good count's in the original Dracula film. The Phantom Limb's design is based on The Phantom.
- In the very first episode of Static Shock, Static and Richie run through some costume designs. One of them was Black Vulcan's outfit from Superfriends.
- In Futurama, Fry is almost always seen wearing Jim Stark's outfit from Rebel Without a Cause.
- The Gender Flip episode of Adventure Time had Fionna wearing Princess Serenity's white gown.
- Two dresses worn by Courtney in the Total Drama Island animated series (one being a princess dress in Action, and the other being a wedding dress in World Tour) resemble palette swaps of Cinderella's iconic ballgown.
- The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode It's About Time was apparently an elaborate excuse to get Twilight Sparkle in an Old Snake costume. The only thing missing was a Badass Mustache.