School Uniforms Are the New Black

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A subtrope of Limited Wardrobe.

Schools that require their students to wear uniforms are a common sight around the world. Given that Changing Clothes Is a Free Action doesn't apply in Real Life, it's not surprising to see students lounging around malls and shopping centers wearing them, as it shows that they just got out of school. However, there are certain characters out there who, even on their days off, will still choose to forgo their chance to wear casual clothes and instead wear their standard school clothes. A common explanation for this is that the student can't afford any other outfits and only has the uniform to wear, but that is not always the case. Another reason could be an individual's desire to show that they are part of a group. There have even been cases where schools require their students to wear their uniforms even outside of class. Or maybe they're just that damn comfy.

Of course, this is sometimes done with Fan Service in mind, since uniforms are very often hot. (See also Catholic School Girls Rule, Sailor Fuku.)

During a Beach Episode, the most strait-laced female member of the cast will typically be depicted wearing a school-issue swimsuit rather than a more daring bikini. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule.

Can overlap with Transfer Student Uniforms when a student continues to wear his/her old uniform at a new school that doesn't have one.

Examples of School Uniforms Are the New Black include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Bleach, Vaizard Yadomaru Lisa wears a school uniform, despite having been dead for who knows how long. Since her time as a Shinigami was spent as Kyoraku Shunsui's lieutenant, though, maybe it's just habitual.
    • Not to mention she isn't that different from Kyoraku, maybe even worse, given that she likes to peep on other people's matters and reads pornographic magazines in public with absolutely no shame.
    • Ishida also tends to wear his uniform all the time, except when he's expecting a fight. Averted with the rest of the characters, though; it seems Tite Kubo doesn't like the Limited Wardrobe trope (or just likes to design clothes).
      • He reportedly wanted to go into fashion or design, according to some interviews back in '06...
  • Maka of Soul Eater is almost always seen wearing some kind of school uniform - be it at school itself, when out on missions (coupled with her signature black longcoat) or just hanging out. She also gets a much snazzier new choice of uniform when Spartoi is formed.
    • Explained in Soul Eater Not!; There is a very liberal attitude to uniform at Shibusen, and students can wear whatever they want, but it is a fashion of sorts to design your own school-uniform-type outfit and wear that every day.
  • Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion will wear his school uniform even when he goes out at night to wander the streets of Tokyo-3. Rei Ayanami is also an example of the trope as well.
    • And he wears it both while deciding the fate of the world and right after he rejects Instrumentality and ends up on the beach. The fandom in general are under the impression that this is the only outfit he wears outside the entry plug.
  • Tohsaka Rin from Fate/stay night skips school to show Archer around the city. Despite being the heiress to a rather wealthy family (and the truancy accusations wearing a uniform would presumably invite), she still chooses to wear her school uniform for this outing. Reversed in the rest of the game, where she wears a red sweater with a Creepy Cool Cross on it, a miniskirt, and some delicious Grade S Zettai Ryouiki when not at school.
  • Twins Sara and Sojyu of Futakoi Alternative are rarely seen out of their primary outfits, which appear to be school uniforms. School is rarely ever mentioned in the series, and never shown. They even spend an entire Sunday lounging about in their uniforms.
  • Kamiyama from Cromartie High School wears his school uniform even when going out for shopping and stopping local gangsters with his super powered Mechazawa Motorcycle
    • Hell, every other character in Cromartie falls into this (except, obviously, if they don't usually wear school uniforms). The only time we see any of the student characters out of uniform is when Hokuto wakes up at his home - he's in his PJs.
  • Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! always wears a variation of his school uniform during the various card game tournaments he competed in.
    • This is lampshaded in the manga. When told he doesn't have to wear his uniform at the weekend, his response is "why not?", and he appears to be genuinely puzzled by the concept.
    • Interestingly, the first time he DOES wear casual clothes in the anime (during the group's game against Duke Devlin), no one says a word about it. The Abridged Series mocks this (which should come as no surprise, since it mocks everything else) in episode 22. The episode is half-way over before Yugi thinks to himself, "Isn't anyone going to notice that I'm not wearing my school uniform?"
  • Kagome of Inuyasha frequently strolls around in modern-day school outfit in feudal Japan.
    • Of special note is one moment from the first movie; she's about to return to the past wearing a miko outfit which is definitely period-appropriate, seeing as how she was given it while she was in the past. Her mother makes a point of stopping her right before she jumps into the well specifically to hand her a newly-cleaned school uniform to change into.
    • In the anime, Kagome doesn't wear her school uniform on her first planned excursion through the well, but more practical clothes. Fans complained, and all subsequent journeys would be in her school uniform.
  • Yuki Nagato from Haruhi Suzumiya almost always wears her school uniform; justified, because being her a Fish Out of Water, in the first chapters she still has to learn about human fashion. It should be noted that she was wearing that same uniform three years before she even started at the school.
  • Hitomi from Vision of Escaflowne wears her school uniform despite being on a completely different world. Justified in that the only other clothes she has with her are her running clothes. However, given the amount of action she sees, her sweats might have been a more practical choice of dress.
  • Lelouch vi Britannia of Code Geass usually wears either his school uniform or his superhero terrorist costume. In fact, he was even wearing his school uniform at the end of R2 episode 21, when he arranged a live, international broadcast at the Britannian capital's throne room, sat down in the throne, and calmly announced in front of a huge crowd of nobles and royals that he was the new emperor now that he had murdered the old one.
    • Of course, it does help that his uniform would be seen as a status symbol, since Ashford Academy is mostly attended by affluent Britannians. It might also make people let down their guard, because how dangerous could a high school student really be?
    • As well, the Royal Guard leader who found Lelouch in the first episode correctly identified Lelouch as a Britannian student in the ghetto before trying to kill him, so it likely helps students get by if they're ever outside the settlements.
  • Setsuna in Mahou Sensei Negima does this as a part of her Stoic nature.
    • Kotarou from the same series, who mentioned that his school uniform is his fighting outfit.
    • Sayo Aisaka wears her school uniform perpetually, because of the fact that she's dead. Since she died some unspecified time in the past, her uniform is different to that of the rest of the school.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Nanoha's Barrier Jacket design is based on the school uniform she wore when she was 9 years old, so in a way, she continues wearing her school uniform in battle well into her adulthood.
  • Before the The Dark Tournament, Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Kurama of Yu Yu Hakusho would go everywhere in their school uniform. This includes joining a contest to become the pupil of an Old Master in the mountains, attacking the castle of demons intending to take over the human world, and raiding the mansion of a evil rich guy to rescue a Mysterious Waif.
    • Yusuke is an interesting example in that his 'uniform' is not in fact the school uniform since he specifically wears the wrong color as a form of rebellion.
  • Karasuma in School Rumble does this as another major part of his overall oddness.
    • Lampshaded. Though all his clothes look alike his casual clothes have different patterns on the inside.
  • It's implied that the extremely poor Asami from Mahoraba doesn't OWN any clothes other than her school uniforms. She always wears them, even switching to gym clothes when it's too hot for the normal uniform.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh: Gunter has several uniforms made after Yuuri shows up in his school uniform, simply because it's black. (Black being a significant color symbolizing Yuuri's power.) So, Yuuri ends up with both black and his uniform.
  • In Princess Tutu, Rue and Mytho are rarely seen outside of their school uniforms, even when we often see other students from the school in casual outfits on their days off. For Rue, it's probably because she's the daughter of the Raven, and probably doesn't have * any* human clothes outside of her school stuff and the outfit she wore for the festival, for Mytho it could just be because Fakir didn't want to bother. Autor is also never seen in anything but his school uniform.
  • Miaka and Yui in Fushigi Yuugi, though in the manga it's actually a plot point: As long as they both wear the uniform, each one is aware of what's going on with the other in the book.
  • The girls of Mai-Otome are required to wear their uniforms everywhere. In one episode, Arika's briefly goes missing, believed to have been stolen and/or sold on the black market, since Otome merchandise is a very hot commodity.
  • Jotaro Kujou and Noriaki Kakyoin of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure insist on wearing their uniforms on a cross-Asia road trip: "We're students, so we should look like students." Jotaro even manages to find a replacement jacket in Pakistan.
  • Enforced in A Certain Scientific Railgun: Tokiwadai Academy insists that its students wear their uniforms at all times, even when not in school, so it's rare to see Kuroko and Mikoto wearing anything else. Saten and Uiharu, who attend a school with less restrictive rules, are seen in casual clothes more often.
  • Atsunobu Hayashimizu from Full Metal Panic!? Fumoffu, to the point he wears it even at the beach!
  • Nurarihyon no Mago: Big Bad Hagoromo Gitsune takes it literally and beyond:

I will fill this world with something pure. Pure black, like these black eyes, this black hair, and black clothes...

  • Everyone who wears a school uniform in Code Breaker rarely changes into normal clothes, even if said uniform is just a cover.
  • Arata Kangatari has Hinohara, who has yet to dress himself in more practical traveling clothes. Kadowaki is later guilty of it as well, refusing to wear what he calls "cosplay."
  • When the girls of Madoka Magica aren't in their Magical Girl outfit they're in their school uniform. Except Kyouko, who doesn't go to school (not that she has any more variety). There are some exceptions, since Madoka appears wearing her pyjamas in episode 6 and Homura uses casual clothing in the last chapter of the manga (She still uses the school uniform in the anime tough).
  • Let's not forget the episode of Kaze no Stigma that featured Ayano having trouble deciding to wear on her Not-Date with Kazuma. Her choices were three identical school uniforms.
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys zigzags this trope. The main trio wears their school uniform even it's summer vacation or Christmas—but there were a few scenes in High School Boys and Summer Memories skit when they wore causal clothes. This trope was also Invoked once in High School Boys and Summer Plans when Hidenori asked Karasawa to wear school uniforms to join a meeting on vacation planning in which the other participants are already wearing school uniforms.
  • Kyousuke Hyoubu in Zettai Karen Children is often criticized by some people (particularly his comrades from his terrorist organization) for wearing the gakuran school uniform all the time, which is sometimes seen as a sign of his childishness. In a supplemental 4-panel strip, we find out that before that he used to wear his old WWII air force uniform, switching to the school uniform after repeated requests from his comrades to start wearing civilian clothes. (Which gakuran technically is, but notice that it still has a military look!) The only time he attempted to wear casual clothes, when going on a date with The Children and on explicit request from his comrades, a pretty messy Clothing Damage happened, which made his comrades give up and let him keep wearing the school uniform.
  • Misaki Ayuzawa from Kaichou wa Maid-sama wears the school swimsuit during the Beach Episode because she couldn't afford anything else. Eventually the manager of the Maid-Latte Maid Cafe gives her a spare outfit.

Comic Books

  • Happy Kitty from Christos' Gage's Absolution is a rare western comic book example.
  • The identical yellow and black outfits worn by the X-Men before they "graduate" from Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is a superhero version of this trope.


  • Kyon was falling into this constantly for a while during Kyon: Big Damn Hero, but managed to escape it by getting a Badass Longcoat and skinsuit... thing.
    • Haruhi actually uses this exact wording about Yuki.



  • The straitlaced Yo-less in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy wears his school uniform when hanging around with Johnny and his mates. In fact, he's the only kid who ever wears the school uniform, which Wobbler says means it isn't really a uniform, and he should be sent home for not wearing a T-shirt and jeans.

Live Action TV

  • In classic Doctor Who one of the Fifth Doctor's companions, Turlough, is introduced as an English schoolboy. It's soon revealed that he's not what he seems and he joins the Doctor in his travels through time and space...but never removes the uniform! (except once, memorably, to trade it in for some hot pants and a speedo.) After his first story, though, his invented story as a schoolboy is never brought up again, and as Turlough doesn't come across as school-age, the rest of his tenure sees him as a young adult in a suit.
  • In American Dreams, the youngest son, Will, tended to wear his Catholic school uniform all day. Partly justified by the fact that his polio and leg brace would make it difficult to change pants in the middle of the day- but that doesn't explain keeping the tie on.
    • The same was true of Meg, J.J. and Patty but not to the same extent.
  • A slight variation in Glee is the cheerleaders wearing their uniforms all day every day. At many high schools, cheerleaders wear their uniforms to classes on game days, but not other days, and not outside of school.
    • Don't forget the Warblers, who don't dress down even when school's out.
    • Although it tends to vary for the Warblers; it seems as though they wear their uniforms during all performances, even at night or on the weekends(like Silly Love Songs or the GAP Attack) and/or if the other performers are in costume, but Blaine and Kurt both dress down for Rachel's party.
  • In Season 10 of Degrassi the school introduces uniforms; as yet it seems that nobody has gotten the hang of changing clothes after school.
  • Outnumbered zigzags this. It depends on what day of the week it is.


  • ACDC's lead guitarist, Angus Young, is typically seen wearing his Ashfield Boys High School uniform.
  • In My Chemical Romance's "I'm Not Okay" video, they wore school uniforms. Literally, the new black, because otherwise, those dudes wear a lot of black.

Video Games

  • The main party members of Persona 3 and Persona 4 use their school uniforms as their shadow slaying outfits. Persona 4 justifies this as the characters wear their uniforms as a means of concealing their activities in the TV World to avoid unwanted attention. And can you blame them, when those uniforms are that stylish?
    • In the first Persona game, this is justified since the Zombie Apocalypse occurs, leaving no time for a reasonable wardrobe change.
    • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, highschooler characters keep their uniforms on throughout the game, despite getting plenty of opportunities to change. In Eternal Punishment, Tatsuya finally ditches the uniform for a stylish red tracksuit though.
  • Sakura from Street Fighter has become quiet famous for entering martial arts tournaments in her school uniform. Even in Street Fighter IV where she travels abroad to visit Ken she's still wearing one as she now uses it as her fighting uniform.
  • Kyo from King of Fighters has entered various competitions while wearing his school uniform. Shingo Yabuki does so as well but that's more attributed to the fact that he wants to emulate Kyo as much as he can.
    • From KOF '99 and onward, he changes his outfit, but his numerous clones wear his old school uniform.
    • Funnily enough, despite his uniform being considered an iconic part of his character, Kyo left school without graduating.
  • Alessa Gillespie in Silent Hill is never seen in something other than her school uniform.
  • Jimmy Hopkins from Bully frequently visits the town near his school in his school uniform during his days off. Of course this is mainly attributed to the player choosing to do so as opposed to the character.
  • Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army: Raidou always wears his school uniform, even when going out and fighting demons. What's that? In the Yakuza-run bath house, he's naked and thus does not wear the uniform? Heh, nope. He keeps the hat. So he's always wearing at least a piece of the uniform.
  • Reisen Udongein Inaba from the Touhou game Imperishable Night wears a uniform composed of a long-sleeved black suit jacket, tie, and short skirt, similar to a private school uniform..
    • For that matter, Touhou plays the Limited Wardrobe sister trope in general, except for Reimu and Marisa, where it's averted and Sanae where this trope here is inverted (she wears a Miko uniform most of the time but rarely an actual School uniform).
  • Alyssa in Clock Tower 3 wears a school uniform through most of the game. She has alternate costumes, but they're a little creepy. Especially for a 14 year old.
  • In the earlier Harry Potter video games, the student characters wore their Hogwarts uniforms at all times. Even while hanging out at the Burrow or shopping in Diagon Alley.
  • During the school year all students of Academagia are required to were clearly identifiable school uniforms basically everywhere but their rooms. Furthermore, each college has its own variation on design and color scheme. The main reason for this is to assuage the understandable concerns the general populace and government of Mineta, over the hundreds of potentially mischievous and/or incompetent magic-users-in-training in their midst.


  • The girls of Gunnerkrigg Court usually take any chance they get to change out of their school uniforms. When the former Suicide Fairies show in uniform outside of class, it's a clue that they didn't get a summer holiday. And when Zimmy and Gamma are seen wearing their uniforms in the middle of the night, it's a sign that they've more pressing things to worry about than changing into pajamas at bedtime.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Moperville North HS's uniform policy was so short-lived that the main characters' playing dressup with them at a party the weekend before it went into effect adds up to one-fourth of their total wear time and almost half their on-panel scenes.

Web Original

  • Bambi, Buffy, and Bunny, three supervillains from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe known collectively as "The Cheerleaders" are never seen wearing anything other than their cheerleader uniforms. Their Beverly Hills High School cheerleader uniforms. Despite having graduated nearly ten years earlier.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Some Japanese schools ask or require their students to be in uniform whenever coming or going to school, and since club activities can happen on weekends, students may be spotted in uniform on Sundays. Conversely, some students are just too lazy to change into regular clothes. One manual on Japanese etiquette says that for funeral attendance, it's acceptable for kids to wear their school uniform—making this trope slightly more literal that you may have expected.
  • In Australia, where school uniforms are the norm, many students simply can't be bothered changing out of their uniforms at the end of the day and seeing students walking around shopping centres in uniform on any given weekday afternoon is not an unusual occurrence.
    • Same in Britain. Aside from a PE kit, it seems bizarre to this British troper that one would carry a change of clothes around school all day merely to change as soon as school finishes.
    • And exactly the same in Brazil, where in the vast majority of public and private schools students are required to wear uniforms. (Although uniforms usually consist of shirts alone, so some students, mainly boys, wear a T-shirt of their own under the school shirt, then after school all they have to do is take off the uniform shirt, and no one will know that five seconds ago they were wearing a uniform, since they will probably look like your typical American public school student.)
  • Schools have uniforms by default throughout the Commonwealth and East Asia. North America is the only part of the English-speaking world where non-uniform schools are the cultural norm.
  • Apparently there are cafés built out of this trope in Taiwan. The style of some school uniforms of Taiwanese schools are apparently fashionable enough that there are cafés where the waitresses are dressed in those uniforms.
  • Students in South Korea also wear their uniforms outside of school, although it's more common for elementary and middle school students to do this than high school students possibly for fashion purposes. Many students have classes on Saturday so it's not uncommon to see them on weekends as well.
  • Irish elementary and secondary schools are still overwhelmingly Christian (Catholic in the Republic), so kids and teens are commonly seen in uniforms before and after school, as well as on their lunch break.
  • Subverted by a Toronto police spokesperson who recently[when?] recommended that students avoid doing this because it divulges where they can be found during the day; he got in trouble because it was taken as "schoolgirls shouldn't wear short skirts because that'll turn predators on to them".
  • Many Catholic secondary schools' uniforms in the US are nothing more than specific slacks and polo shirts, so it's no surprise that a student may not change immediately after class unless it's for something like sports. If they're not really uncomfortable, why bother changing?