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File:Justin Beiber disguise 3407.jpg

"And hoo ees dis Joostin Beever of which you speak?"

When a character uses physical props to disguise themselves. This is a staple of Spy Drama, where the hero will often use a wig and dress and affect an accent, thus the name of the trope.

While never as impenetrable a disguise as Latex Perfection, this disguise is usually plausible and may even fool the audience as well as other characters. If it isn't plausible, then it's a Paper-Thin Disguise.

Sometimes two boys will do this to be a tall woman in a trench coat.

See also Clark Kenting for how a disguise can be complemented by mannerisms and behaviors.

Examples of Wig, Dress, Accent include:

Anime & Manga

  • Happens quite often in Osamu Tezuka's works. In Phoenix, the protagonist disguises himself as a surprisingly attractive maiden to get himself closer and kill the rival king.
  • In one episode of Pokémon, Ash has to dress up like a girl to get into one of the gyms to battle its leader for a badge. Here is the result.
    • Jessie and James have a tendency to do this in a number of episodes, usually involving some Gender Swapping and including, but not limited to, dressing as vikings, Pokémon stylists and traditional Japanese samurai.
  • An episode of Outlaw Star involves Gene dressing up as a woman so he can enter an all-female wrestling tournament. He is defeated in the first round. There was at least the explanation that they bribed the judges, and the one guy who knew him, but was not in on the plan, recognized him instantly. In the same episode, Aisha infiltrated the competition by stealing the costume of one of the regular entrants, since Ctarl-Ctarl weren't allowed to enter.
  • Monster has an interesting take on this: a wig, dress, and an affected voice is quite literally all Johan needs to fool the reader. (Don't forget, in the Anime, some make-up for skin tone.)
  • Mahou Sensei Negima
  • Misa does this twice in Death Note: once to avoid being spotted by Light and L in Aoyama, and once to trade places with a friend in order to get close to Higuchi.
  • Ranma One Half: When Ranma Saotome needs further disguise than what his Gender Bender Jusenkyô curse can provide, this trope is more or less how he goes about it. Though he does on occasion go a step further by pretending to be a Meganekko (see the Japanese Nanniichuan and Ryôga & Akane's First date storylines) or applying make-up and other accessories (lipstick on date with Tatewaki, make-up powder when pretending to be Ryôga's fiancée, etc.). This trope tends to work because the people he plays it against are either desperately lonely (Ryôga), utter perverts (Happôsai) have rotten vision (Mousse) or are just plain stupid (Tatewaki Kunô). And even he was surprised it worked the first time he tried it: he was expecting Ryôga to see through it, though since it did work, he does it again and again.
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, when Ed goes on the run he spends some time transmuting his hair a dark green and wearing platform shoes (to disguise his trademark short height). The disguise actually works remarkably well, even for the viewer.
  • Yozak from Kyo Kara Maoh!, everyone's favourite spy, has this as his first resort. He carries around a dress for good luck. For a huge, muscular man, it's surprisingly effective.
  • Minoru in AKB 49 Renai Kinshi Jourei relies on a blond wig, a change in dress and a heightened voice to disguise himself as "Minori".


  • When Thor lost his ability to transform into a nebbish doctor, some of his fellow Avengers (in their series) took him out to see "some guys they knew," to help him work up a "civilian" hairstyle and outfits. On the way out there's a shout-out to Clark Kent.
  • When Dinah Lance(either of them) fights crime as the Black Canary, she wears a disguise consisting of a wig and a stripper-like outfit. Even though her face is covered up even less the Clark Kent, she still maintains a secret identity.
  • In the Super Mario World comic, Luigi swaps clothes with Princess Peach (or Toadstool) and dons a wig to infiltrate the Koopa Kids' stronghold, in which Mario is kept. In his defense, he at least tried to hide his face with a mask, which also justified her deep voice as "having a nasty cold."
    • Peach also disguised herself as Luigi, in a comic. The difference in size between herself and Luigi was made up for with Bob-ombs.
  • There are quite a few examples in Tintin, particularly the Thompson twins, who fail utterly. Tintin is also known to do it a fair bit, and several villians have tried to pull beards off certain men of short stature who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — needless to say, Tintin shows up on the next page having hidden in a large Chinese vase or having been disguised as a black waiter. In another story, Tintin and the Captain don burqas in Arabia in order to get out of the city where there is a bounty on their head — Snowy is carried in a vase on the Captain's head. Of course, the alarm is raised when a real Arabian woman tries to speak with them.

Films — Live-Action

  • Inspector Clouseau does this a lot, to mixed success. He is so committed to being the Master of Disguise he thinks he is that the proprietor of the costume shop he frequents is a minor recurring character.
  • In the Charlie's Angels movie, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz are disguised as men in one scene. Maybe it was Lucy Liu in her dominatrix outfit who distracted everyone.
  • The whole premise of the Wayans brothers' White Chicks.
  • Subverted in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. When the three drag queens are stranded in a Midwestern hick town, it seems that the townsfolk don't know the true sex of the "career girls". However, it's revealed at the end that they knew for awhile and simply didn't care.
  • The Crying Game.
  • In the first Scooby Doo live action movie, dogs aren't allowed on the plane, so Shaggy brings his grandma...
  • Used in 12 Monkeys at the end, the protagonists use store bought disguises (a glued on mustache for the man and a blonde wig for the woman) to get through airport security and escape to Florida.
  • In the Universal film Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapons, his disguise as a German book salesman. Sherlock doesn't typically appear at the very beginning of the films and the make-up work was very good. Much more noticeable in the earlier Hound of the Baskervilles film.
    • Guy Ritchie's more recent movie also featured a scene where Sherlock adopted a fake nose, hat, eye patch, and some stones in his mouth to disguise himself.
  • FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) in The Boondock Saints dresses up as a woman and hams up a Brooklyn accent to help out the brothers, completely (and I do mean completely in one case) fooling two mob goons.
  • Nathaniel from Enchanted.
  • Chevy Chase in Fletch swaps into and out of about 10 different disguises throughout the film. Including insurance adjuster, busboy, vagrant and basketball star (with afro and going one-on-one vs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
  • In Disney's Condorman, this is used twice. First, after The Hero Woody and Defector From Commie Land Natalia have been arrested by local cops, his Sidekick Harry shows up in a trenchcoat, fake glasses and moustache, and a truly absurd accent to spring them. Second, after Natalia gets captured by the Big Bad, Woody and Harry together don Arab Oil Sheikh disguises to infiltrate the palace and pull off a rescue.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indy, swapping hats with Elsa, poses as a Scottish art collector to trick his way into Castle Brunwald.

 Butler: If you are a Scottish lord, then I am Mickey Mouse!



  • Subverted in a Department 13 novel: an agent "disguises" himself by putting on a wig that looks like his own hair, colored contacts the same color as his real eyes, subtle makeup, and wears shoes that look like they have lifts (but really don't). When enemy agents look at him they easily spot the wig, contacts, makeup, and shoes and assume that they're seeing a decoy, not the agent himself.
  • Sherlock Holmes successfully pulls this off a few times, even fooling his best friend Watson.
    • In A Scandal in Bohemia, the tables are turned on Sherlock when opera singer Irene Adler disguises herself a man so successfully that she's even able to wish the detective a good night without him recognizing her as the woman he's supposed to be investigating.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • In Monstrous Regiment this is played straight by the only male in the group acting as a washerwoman to get into the enemy base (who fools the guards but not the other washerwomen who let him continue the charade because he seems to enjoy it) but it fails when the female soldiers (who have been pretending to be male) don the same disguise and are stopped by the guards. Of course, they get around this just by having one of them lift her dress...
    • In Moving Pictures, in order to enter a clicky theatre without being found out, the wizards of UU remove their hats and use some wire to make their beards look like cheap fake beards. It works surprisingly well; no one would assume a guy in fake beard and without the trademark hat would be a wizard.
      • Re-visited in I Shall Wear Midnight, when Mrs. Proust disguises Tiffany's genuine witch hat by sprinkling glitter on it and attaching an "Apprentice Witch Hat, AM $2.50" costume-shop label to its brim.
    • Though wizards occasionally have trouble letting go of the hat; in Sourcery, Conina suggests Rincewind could avoid getting lynched as a wizard simply by taking off his hat and not be a wizard at the moment. Rincewind has severe trouble wrapping his mind around the concept, particularly "not be a wizard".
    • In The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, the wizards have to disguise the Librarian to hide him from some eighteenth-century Englishmen. A dress and a large hat is all it takes to convince them that he's a Spanish lady. The Librarian is an orang-utan.
    • In The Truth, Gaspode the Wonder Dog (a terrier mix) is disguised as a poodle named Trixiebell, so the thugs out hunting for Wuffles (another terrier) won't catch him. Gaspode's disguise, applied under duress by Anhk-Morpork's premiere grooming shop, consists largely of an all-body pink dye job.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Leia's childhood friend, Winter Celchu, was frequently mistaken for Leia, due to Leia's tomboyishness and Winter's more ladylike behavior. As they grew older and joined the Rebellion, they had the bright idea to put this to good use, with Winter occasionally going in disguise as Leia to protect her. Winter would later become a full-fledged Intelligence agent and put Wig, Dress, Accent to more use.
    • Also, Mara Jade disguises herself as Jabba's dancing girl Arica. Sometimes Arica is depicted with black hair, unlike Mara's actual hair color (and is therefore most likely a wig), while other times Mara appears to be using her real hair. Here's some comparisons, for the curious.
  • Les Misérables
    • There's a rather clever use of disguise by the villain Thenardier at the end of the book. The narrator discusses how his disguise as the respectable "Thenard" was simply purchased from a shop which sells clothing to rogues to make them look respectable, and that his oufit belonged to a Statesman. What makes his disguise clever, is that it came with quill pens as an accessory. Thenadier sticks the pens up his nose, altering the shape of his nose and changing his voice tone, rendering him unrecognizable.
    • Valjean inadvertantly disguises himself from Javert, simply by dressing well and being clean (reflecting his status as mayor), simply because Javert doesn't expect an escaped convict to be successful.
    • Javert himself uses a disguise when he infiltrates the barricades and Eponine disguises herself as a boy for most of the end of the story.
  • Used repeatedly by Harry Dickson and his pupil Tom in Jean Ray's novels, so succesfully that they even fool close friends like their cook or the police chief. Or each other.
  • In the Shadow pulp novels, recurring character Myra Reldon is Caucasian but easily able to pass as Chinese. Walter Gibson specifies that she uses tape to create a fake epicanthic fold, but doesn't explain how she turns her brown eyes black — it's a bit early for contact lenses in this time period.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star, the narrator follows the theory that a thin disguise can be the best. He makes a few small changes to Dak Broadbent's appearance — posture, mainly — and predicts that any acquaintance seeing him would say, "That guy looks a lot like Dak Broadbent. Of course, he isn't Dak. But he looks like him." And the observers' inability to pin down why they were so certain it wasn't really Broadbent would actually make them still more certain.

Live-Action TV

  • Alias does this an average of Once an Episode.
  • In Arrested Development, Tobias dons a dress, wig, and accent in order to disguise himself as a nanny and spend time with his daughter while he and his wife are separating, a la Mrs. Doubtfire. He doesn't fool anyone, especially since he can't get rid of his habit of accidentally saying homoerotic things, but everyone plays along so he can keep the house clean.
  • In Young Blades, the Musketeer Jacques LePonte is actually a woman who merely wears a fake goatee, and sometimes not even that.
  • Due South: In the second-season episode "Some Like It Red", Fraser goes undercover as a female teacher in an all-girls' Catholic school. Kudos to the makeup department for this one. Paul Gross, who played Fraser, manages to make a convincing woman (and walk normally in high heels) despite the fact that he's six feet tall and not even close to slender and willowy.
  • That's So Raven is supposed to be about a girl with psychic powers, but said psychic is such a "master of disguise" the show could just as well be about a girl with a knack for disguises. While this trope is used as ridiculously as possible, Raven still manages to be more convincing than plenty of serious/non-comedic examples.
  • Roseanne as gone in drag a few times on her sitcom, once in the Halloween Episode as her costume, and in a Christmas Episode where she acts as Santa Claus at her mall (Jackie was the Missus). In both cases, one would think her ear-piercing voice would give away her gender, but she actually got past most people. In the Halloween episode, she even almost gets into a fight with a drunk bar patron and has to be rescued by Dan, who inexplicably plays gay while defending her.
  • The Granada TV production of Sherlock Holmes mostly manages to avoid this trope; Holmes' disguises tend to be fairly convincing. Once in a while they go overboard: in "The Final Problem", Watson boards a train and sits down in his cabin opposite a man with an unrealistically long nose and a frizz of grey hair under an enormous hat, and doesn't realize it's Holmes until Holmes addresses him by name. When you get a good look at him in the moment before he takes off the disguise, you wonder how anyone could look at him and not think "that's a bloke in a costume".
  • Reality TV example: In a season premiere of Hells Kitchen, Ramsey wanted to see what the contestants were like before he met them. So he put on a wig, a fake nose, and some shabbier clothes and was on the bus with the real contestants. Nobody caught on.
  • Although Mission Impossible is remembered for latex masks that could even alter height and body type, they did a lot of this too, especially when someone other than the team Master of Disguise had to play the role.
  • Leverage features this often when Sophie is running her part. Lampshaded and almost subverted in "The Rashomon Job" when a museum head of security notes that a duchess in the main hall bears a striking resemblance to one of the lab girls (both are Sophie's acts, one in a slinky evening gown with her usual accent, and the other in a white lab coat with what sounds like a Jersey accent) and almost seems to make the connection.
  • Artemus Gordon from The Wild Wild West wore a disguise in almost every episode. Generally, his disguises consisted of a wig, a new outfit (occasionally a dress), some makeup or facial hair, and an accent. Since Ross Martin could speak several languages, he also sometimes spoke the language of the character he was portraying.
  • In ICarly, the main character's brother Spencer tends to do this a lot. In fact, he does it so much that one episode, he insists that he be the one who dresses up as a woman and, when the main characters agree, exclaims

  "I'll go get my boobs!"


Myths & Religion

  • Older Than Feudalism: The Bible, Old Testament, 1 Kings 20: A minor prophet disguises himself by wearing his headband down over his eyes.
  • Possibly older than The Bible: Greek Mythology has the myth of goddess of wisdom and crafts Athena disguising herself as an old woman to confront the young and foolish Arachne about Arachne's boasts that her weave-work was better than Athena's. Athena thus took off her disguise and challenged Arachne to a weaving contest. Athena wins, naturally, and Arachne — so upset — hangs herself. Athena feels pity for the poor thing and thus turns Arachne into a spider, which is, according to the mythology of the Greeks, why spiders weave webs.
    • ...Another version has it that Arachne wove scenes which offended Athena or she was simply better (your call) and Athena transformed her out of anger.
    • And yet another version combines all of the above. Arachne wove better but was arrogant and used designs making fun of Zeus and his many sexual conquests. Athena broke the loom over Arachne's head and the girl tried to hang herself out of humiliation. Athena then turns her into a spider.
  • Many different tales of mythology deal with gods or other powerful beings disguising themselves as mortals (almost always old people or beggers). The usual reason is to request food, shelter, or some other sort of favor or aide as a test of goodness. If the person being tested is smart (or kind) enough to comply, they are granted wishes, good fortune, or the general favor of the magical being. If the person isn't that smart or good, they can expect things not to go so well for them in the future.
  • It is often said that Odysseus recruited Achilles for the Trojan War by seeing through this. Achilles's mother sent him off to Scyros and disguised him as a girl, hoping to prevent his fated death in battle. Odysseus brought a cart of stereotypically feminine items and a cart of weapons to Scyros. Guess which ones Achilles found more interesting.
    • The other story being that Odysseus simply saw Achilles' huge, muscular arms and legs and took a rough guess at his true gender.


  • In Der Rosenkavalier by R. Strauss, the protagonist (an adolescent male played by a woman) dresses as a maid, supposedly his country-bumpkin relative, and dons an appropriate accent to avoid a relative of the woman he's having an affair with. The Baron then makes passes at our hero. Hilarity Ensues, along with plot devices.
  • In Anyone Can Whistle, Fay Apple dons a slinky dress, red wig, and puts on a french accent to become The Lady From Lourdes. While she intends to reveal the town's miracle is a fraud, she reveals to her love interest that this is also the only way she can get herself to relax and cut loose.

Video Games

  • As part of the plot of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud has to dress up like a girl. This is the logical extension.
    • Anyone else strangely reminded of those Disney Princess pictures?
  • In one chapter of Mother 3, Lucas and his dog Boney need to gain access into a nightclub. However, the club doesn't allow minors or pets, so Boney dons a t-shirt and hat and stands on his hind legs to look more like a person. They're still rejected, but the waitress lets them in anyway (incidentally, the waitress is also another party member in disguise; she just happens to be better at it.)
  • Iroquois Pliskin in Metal Gear Solid 2 is so obviously Snake in a different uniform with his hair down that it's genuinely shocking when he turns out to be Snake in a different uniform with his hair down. Word of God is that Hideo Kojima kept pressuring them to make the disguise more and more transparent, the idea being to take advantage of paranoid gamers expecting his twisty plots to be more twisty than they actually are.
    • Exactly the opposite and a great example of this trope occurs in Metal Gear Solid 3 with EVA/Tatyana. Combed back hair, glasses, and a different set of clothes shouldn't really fool anyone, but instead of relying entirely on it, she also changes her body posture and movement and her entire way of acting.
    • Liquid's disguising himself as Master Miller retroactively is this, as not only did he mimick Miller in both appearance and in voice, he also changed his overall demeanor to be more similar to how Miller would act. Originally, it was closer to Paper-Thin Disguise, but the rereleases of the MSX Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake redid the design for Miller to match his "appearance" in Metal Gear Solid, and his appearance in Peace Walker was based on his Metal Gear Solid appearance.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: In the middle of their adventure, the brothers stumble upon a situation that requires a stand-in for Peach. They weren't aware of this earlier, but, conveniently, have one of Peach's dresses with them ((don't ask)). We probably don't want to know why they have the wig, but this fits the trope namer to a T, because, in addition to the dress and wig, in all of the other scenes, both brothers have vague-italian accents — though, in this instance, Luigi does a disturbingly accurate impression of Peach...
  • In Primal, the protagonist briefly loses her ability to shapeshift into various demonic forms and is thus forced to dress herself up as demon in order to blend in.
  • In Space Quest IV, you do this to access an ATM.

Web Comics

  • Order of the Stick
    • Roy is forced into a Gender Bender once. Roy is bald, and in his own words, "The lesson here is, if the magic item doesn't specifically SAY it grows hair, it probably doesn't." So he gets forced into a literal Wig, Dress, Accent, minus accent 'cause it's a webcomic.
    • And then there's the time Vaarsuvius' raven familiar Blackwing disguised himself to buy materials from a store where they'd been banned. Yes, the raven disguised himself. with a moustache.
  • Red Mage in Eight Bit Theater. He already has long hair and he needs no accent (once again, because it's a webcomic). He simply puts on a dress and is able to fool anyone not in the party. He also tends to wear it even when not trying to disguise himself, which greatly disturbs both Black Mage and Thief. ("Cross-CHECKING").
    • Probably worth noting that it's actually Thief's fault — Red Mage cross-dresses so often because he has a complex that developed due to his father hating him for being a boy (he wanted a girl.) The twist? This didn't actually happen — Thief just fabricated those memories.
  • George the Dragon has pulled this particular one off. Even though it was a rather Paper-Thin Disguise, it seems to have worked like a charm.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The Alias example is sent up on Robot Chicken with "Whalias", substituting an orca for Sydney. The whale's disguises work just as well as hers usually do.
  • On American Dad, Roger the Alien wears many Wig, Dress, Accent disguises, and they all fool everyone who isn't acquainted with the real Roger. Storywise, the disguises' function of hiding his alienhood is taken for granted, and what Roger really has fun with is creating a new fictitious identity for himself in each episode. If Roger were a believer in creating a stable identity for himself, nothing would stop him from using the same disguise whenever he meets someone outside the Smith family--but he prefers to go through an endless succession of identities. Of both genders.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Aang disguises himself as a old man with a mustache and hair made of fur from Appa the flying bison the first time Team Avatar goes to Omashu. He gets found out when it blows off.
    • Sokka's infamous "Mr. Wang Fire", which consists of a goofy, deeper voice, and a beard in order to pretend to be Aang's father. Sokka likes it so much, he occasionally uses it randomly after, like when trying to give psychiatric advice to Aang (which pretty much consists of Aang screaming into a sheepkoala).
    • "Flameyo, hotmen!"
  • Subverted in the Gargoyles episode, "Turf," where Elisa Maza goes undercover to stop Tomas Brode, wearing only a change of clothes and a blonde wig. Although that getup is able to fool Brode, the moment Elisa's long time gangster enemy, Anthony Dracon, gets a good close concentrated look at Elisa, he recognizes her instantly and reveals to his enemy. It does manage to fool her gargoyle friends, too.
  • Kim Possible wears a wig and dress to infiltrate a club in So The Drama, about the only time she wore a disguise. It didn't fool Shego for a moment.
  • Bugs Bunny is willing to resort to a quite alarming drag outfit of this sort.
  • Woody Woodpecker also uses this ruse frequently, usually to get to Wally Walrus' stash of food.
  • Brain from Inspector Gadget does this a lot. Penny rarely does this, but has at least once; she likely gets points from Brain. No-one ever sees through the disguises. Brain, by the way, is a dog. Not a talking dog like Scooby, either.
  • Pinky and The Brain find themselves, as lab mice, trying to disguise themselves during their plots and plans. (A minor Running Gag to some fans is that Pinky's outfits aren't meant for male mice.)
  • The entire gag for the Chicken Boo shorts on Animaniacs. A giant chicken in nothing more than a wig/hat/suit/mustache. Everyone falls for it. Well, all except one person, who everyone regards as insane.
  • Grizzle from Adventures in Care-a-Lot has used this on occasion, but since he doesn't take off his mechanical suit, it also counts as a Paper-Thin Disguise. Whether or not the Care Bears are fooled depends on what kind of lesson is being taught.
  • Dukey from Johnny Test is similar to Boney's example above. In case that fails, he's usually able to pass himself off as a kid with a rare hair disorder.

Real Life

  • In Star Trek, the wife of Gene Roddenberry, Majel Barret, was in the first pilot episode as the female first officer. When that character was discarded for the actual show, she bleached her hair blonde and cut it short. It was specifically an attempt to get back in the show without the executives catching on. Even her husband didn't recognize her at first. She was recast in the smaller role of Nurse Chapel.
  • Stephen Colbert waxed his chest, put on a wig and posed for this photo as Raven, the stripper from Wigfield, who he voices on the audiobook.

 Stephen Colbert: When my brother Jay saw that, he said, "Hey, hey. How do we know her?" And I pointed at myself and he goes, "OK, how do you know her?"

Conan O'Brien: And then what did he do when you explained that that is in fact you?

Stephen Colbert: He was a little disturbed.

  • This man, who ripped-off Social Security by disguising as his dead mother with a wig, a pair of glasses, a walking cane and heavy make-up. It definitely worked, because he managed to pocket $115,000 in welfare checks before Social Security found out.
  • In a case of Wig Dress Foreign Language, one Allied prisoner broke out of a German prison camp in World War II by making a fake copy of a German uniform and simply walking out the front door. This was actually extremely common, especially in camps like Colditz Castle where conventional tunnels and wire-cutting were more difficult to pull off. The Colditz Dutch contingent were the acknowledged masters of the technique and they got so good at it that one attempted escape plan was for a prisoner with a strong resemblance to impersonate the camp warrant officer, relieve the guards on a side gate and replace them with other disguised prisoners, to be followed by the entire camp slipping out and down the road. It almost worked, only failing because the last guard got chatty and the real NCO came out to reprimand him for socializing on duty.
    • This is partly because Dutch uniforms were almost identical to German uniforms, plus the Dutch language and German are similar.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen is famous for dressing up for his various alter egos (Borat, Bruno, Ali G, etc).
  • To testify in a court case, Stella Rimington (later head of MI5) wore a wig and make-up that made her look about ten years older then she was. When she met the judge undisguised later, he didn't recognize her.