Showing one's true colors applies to a situation where a person did something that you perceive as negative.

For instance: I thought Jake was a nice guy, but at the club, he showed his true colors.

Is there an idiom which would convey the idea that what a person did led you to perceive them positively thereafter? Consider: Tim was initially shy, but once we worked on that he proved to be an amazing guy.

If not, is there a better way to say this?

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    Why do you think "true colors" is categorically negative ? Cyndi Lauper would disagree: youtube.com/watch?v=LPn0KFlbqX8 – user662852 May 15 '18 at 14:06
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    "Nautical origin. The word 'colors' (or 'colours') refers to the flag or ensign which every ship is obliged to fly at sea. It was once a common deception of pirates to 'sail under false colours' and fly a friendly flag in order to get within close range of potential targets (other ships) without exciting suspicion. Only when the pirate ship reached close quarters would it unfurl its 'true colours'. " Wiktionary – Ady May 17 '18 at 9:53
  • I believe true colors was initially positive, eventually neutral, and has come to have a default pejorative if no other context is given. I can't support that but if a fair number of people hear a pejorative the term/word gets tainted and makes for a poor or risky choice. My guess is that it became a bit dated and started getting applied to people who were moralistic yet hypocritically so. – Tom22 May 18 '18 at 18:23
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    Its funny but my ear is not good with lyrics to songs - even my favorite songs that I've owned and played for myself many hundreds of times I never hear the entire lyrics, ... I catch a phrase at a time - or just a stream of conciousness stream of words "ocean" "sun" "you" "love'. I always thought "true colors" was about some guy that jilted the singer LOL - reading the lyrics I can see I was very wrong - must have been because I thought her voice was whiny and resentful, but her resentment seems to be about the guy being reluctant to show what she knows is good hidden colors – Tom22 May 18 '18 at 18:26

shine through is a common way of latent or hidden ability coming on display

shine through at Cambridge.org

— phrasal verb with shine UK ​ /ʃaɪn/ US ​ /ʃaɪn/ verb shone or shined ​ If a quality shines through, it is strong and easy to see, usually in a particular situation:

Take off your make-up and let your natural beauty shine through.

She is a quiet woman but her passion shines through in her music.

It took three games starting after Bledsoes injury for the first glimpses of Tom Brady's brilliant future to shine through.


Consider saying that Tim revealed hidden depths.

hidden depths phrase Admirable but previously unnoticed qualities. ‘his solo spots reveal hidden depths’ - ODO


I thought Jake was a nice guy, but at the club, he was a revelation.


be a revelation
To be different than one anticipated, often in a good way.
Dana's performance in the play was a revelation—I had no idea she was such a talented actress.

Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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