I need a simile to describe someone in garish clothing standing out among a soberly dressed gathering> such as like a Spiv at a ..... or a Dick on a doughnut...

Does anyone have any good ideas to offer?

  • 2
    The standard idiom is stuck out like a sore thumb. What's a spiv? ... Just looked it up. That's a neat word! Like a spiv at an accounting convention, maybe? Or pick the bland profession of your choice (librarian, dental hygienist, etc). – Dan Bron Mar 11 '17 at 13:51
  • "Spiv" is a term for a "wide boy", originally that nattily-dressed zoot-suited chap who could always get you nylons, petrol coupons or real Rolexes during rationing. I agree that "stuck out like a sore thumb" is the most common simile that answers the question. Alternatively, any comedic simile will do - the choice may be down to the context of the occasion or the text. – Mike C Mar 11 '17 at 13:53
  • @MikeC That's a really neat word! But now I have to go look up "wide boy" :) – Dan Bron Mar 11 '17 at 13:54
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    My favorite: He stuck out like a pregnant pole-vaulter! – rhetorician Mar 11 '17 at 15:01
  • Someone in garish clothes amongst a soberly dressed gathering stuck out like Joseph at a funeral – davidlol Mar 11 '17 at 15:45

I've seen somewhere "like a parrot among ravens" for a similar occurrence - denoting colorful or garish attire, especially when most are wearing black or dark colors.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a better example than this

"and I despise the parrot's livery, considering black the only true wear". - - from "Household words, volume one" edited by Charles Dickens.

So not a close match in the phrasing, but gets the point across a bit.

A more common saying I found when looking was "a parrot among [a flock of] sparrows"

"Here, she had thought she could spread her wings and fly like an eagle. Instead, she felt like a colorful parrot among sparrows - a parrot that had had its wings clipped" - from The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler


"Undeterred, I did the round of the galleries in Old Montreal where I felt like an exotic parrot among sparrows." - from Under-Painting from the Montreal Mosaic web magazine


"In his off-white suit and striped burgundy shirt, Mason stood out like a parrot among sparrows." - from Infamous by Irene Preston


"He gave the impression of a parrot among sparrows, even in a council hall where everyone sought to stand out in the emperor's eye." - from Imperial!Noct AU cut scenes by Fae

I also saw usage of "a peacock among [a flock of] sparrows"

"It blended into the neighborhood, among those businesses that were still occupied and not verging on bankruptcy, like a peacock among sparrows." - from Prairie Gothic: A Mad Dog & Englishman Mystery


"He stands out conspicuously as a colorful, melodramatic character in the often bleak pages of the history of imperial Japan, like a peacock among sparrows." - from Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisabur?, Oomoto, and the Rise of New ...


"Painted canary yellow with cobalt blue trim, it stood out like a peacock among sparrows." - from "Book store doubles as music store for movie" The Spokesman-Review

Of curse, you might find some variation or turn of phrase you prefer, different birds or contrasts, but these examples might help you come up with something.


Stuck out like a sore thumb

If someone or something stands/sticks out like a sore thumb, everyone notices them because they are very different from the people or things around them: Everyone else was in jeans and T-shirts and I had my office clothes on - I stuck out like a sore thumb.



You might try something like, ...like a peacock in a flock of crows, although this has a few problems from a purist/pedantic point of view. First, peacocks are much larger than crows, so a peacock in crow's coloring would stand out anyways. Plus, the "proper" term for a multitude of crows is "a murder of crows", and I suspect this would make the phrase rather disconcerting for most readers. And switching to ravens won't help. It's "an unkindness of ravens".

Nonetheless, you could try (depending on the tone of the rest of the work), like a peacock at a crow convention.


A common idiom is "odd man out".


odd man out

an unusual or atypical person or thing. 
I'm odd man out because I'm not wearing a tie. 

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

2. Something or someone who differs markedly from the others in a group, as in 
Among all those ranch-style houses, their Victorian was odd man out.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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