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Battle Ballgown
Who says walking tanks can't be elegant?

"7. My slinky sorceress' robe will have a chain mail foundation garment, at minimum."

A dress that is lightly to heavily armored, and thus would fit in both a social gala and an epic melee. The form of the dress can range from a frilly dress also accessorized with armor and/or weapons, to basically a suit of armor with a skirt.

The point of this dress is a combination of Rule of Glamorous and Rule of Cool, as such an outfit will almost always be Impossibly Cool Clothes. Yes, armored skirts were historically used (and mostly for men at that) as they allowed more waist protection without obstructing the legs, but they never got as large, and therefore heavy, as many of the examples in this article.

Naturally the ladies wearing these kinds of dresses are almost always Badass Action Girls, particularly Ladies Of War, Badass Princesses, or other tropes related to Silk Hiding Steel (although this trope makes the "hiding" moot). If any other girl ends up wearing this, expect her to fall over almost immediately, if she can even move.

A Sub-Trope of Pimped-Out Dress and Costume Porn.

A Sister Trope to Lady Legionnaire Wear, Kicking Ass in All Her Finery (an overlaps if the dress is on the fancy end).

Compare Stylish Protection Gear, Scary Impractical Armor, or Powered Armor.

Contrast Chainmail Bikini, Stripperiffic.

Remember that this is an armored dress, not simply a fancy dress worn in battle. That's Kicking Ass in All Her Finery.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

Art
  • Paintings of Joan of Arc often show her in armor with a skirt (even though one of the ways the English got her nailed for heresy was her insistence on wearing pants (both because of practicality of riding and to prevent rape while imprisoned).

Fan Fiction
  • At the end of Under the Bridge, Widget Hackwrench wears a wedding dress made of Kevlar. The fact that Widget is a mouse makes it even more remarkable.

Live-Action Films

Literature
  • In The Wheel of Time, Nynaeve, in a moment of insecurity in Tel'aran'rhiod (a place where clothing can change at a whim), wears an impossible dress made of armor plating.
  • Honor Harrington's tunics and tabards are made of a material with (limited) anti-ballistic properties. Mostly because Nimitz likes to ride on her shoulder and his claws would shred any lesser material. It has saved her life on one occasion, and her bodyguard's comfort in knowing she wears them is repeatedly mentioned.
  • In the "Mistborn" series by Brandon Sanderson, the main character, Vin, is fitted for ball gowns that are designed to allow for a range of motion, silent movement, and with hidden pockets. She still prefers not to have to fight in them, since they tend to wind up destroyed if she does, but being Crazy-Prepared she's just more comfortable if she has the option open.
  • In "The Sleeping Beauty" of the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, the princess wears dresses with plated corsets, leather collars, and special pockets for weapons.
  • In "Elvenborn" the protagonist's mother has a dress made of a million bazillion tiny metal plates with diamonds over them. Though she isn't shown fighting in it, it is implied to be very old and come from a dangerous time. The protagonist, who is a military expert, theorizes that "it could turn a blade."
  • In Queen's Own, Talia wears a formal outfit to Elspeth's investiture as Heir that looks elegant, but has been subtly modified so that she could fight in it, and has several concealed weapons.

Live-Action TV

Manhua
  • From Infinity Game most of the female warrior NPCs from the previous game had this as a uniform, such as D.D. who still wears hers in combat.

Tabletop Games
  • In the art for the Everquest pen & paper RPG book, the studded leather armor is drawn like an armored dress.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, the "glamered" enchantment allows armor to appear as normal clothing, which can be used to achieve this effect.
  • In Unhallowed Metropolis Mourners wear mourning garments that have been styled to include battle corsets (armored), and pocket-slits in the skirt part for drawing their blades.
  • Bujinki Amaterasu, of the Bujin archetype in the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG is wearing Bujingi Peacock as a skirt, and she has the highest attack out of the Bujin.

Video Games
  • The hoplite class in Etrian Odyssey III, pictured above, wears dresses that are loaded with armor plating.
    • The Princess class has a lighter armor dress, with tiaras, frills, and fur trim paired with metal boots, gauntlets, and one dress with a breastplate.
  • Chris Lightfellow of Suikoden III wears armor with a skirt.
  • Vanillaware often uses this design for female fighters, especially those with heavy armor.
  • Soul Calibur IV, Ashlotte's outfit.
    • Soul Calibur III offered this as an option for female created fighters, whether mix-and-match or complete armoured outfit.
  • Wild ARMs XF has Alexia, who wears a Pimped-Out Dress accessorized with plate mail into battle.
  • Samurai Shodown's Charlotte goes tank on top, skirt on bottom.
  • Touhou has Yukari Yakumo. While her battle dress looks normal, Hong Meiling's victory quote against her implies that Yukari has some sort of armor underneath her gown, saying "I felt some odd resistance. What are you wearing underneath your clothes?" Being both a supernatural being and a Reality Warper, it could very well be that Yukari's skin and/or bones are incredibly tough, so much so that it feels as hard as armor.
  • Most of the armor sets for the female avatars in the Monster Hunter games are either this or Stripperiffic.
  • Tactics Ogre, at least in the 2011 re-imagining of Let Us Cling Together, features this geddup for its female knights.
  • Mabinogi features several sets of female armour that qualify as this, with skirts ranging from knee-length to full-length, like Leminia's Holy Moon Armor for female characters. It's pretty much the male version with a skirt and is the most expensive armor buyable from NPCs.
  • In Chrono Trigger, the Prism Dress is the strongest armour, and can only be worn by women.
  • Lenneth, Hrist, and Silmeria from the Valkyrie Profile series all have outfits that fit this trope.
  • Special mention goes to Dark Souls. While there are "gown"-looking armor in the game, there's usually no reason to equip it except for the (now-patched and nerfed) Antiquated Skirt, which has disproportionately high defense compared to the rest of the set. Coupled with real armor for the upper body and a female character, and you have this trope.
  • Sengoku Rance has Uesugi Kenshin, who wore her kacchu styled Japanese armor over her hakama/gii and a Nice Hat.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia gives the heroine Shanoa the option of wearing either heavy armor or dresses into battle. The armor usually has the higher defense, but the dresses tend to increase other stats in addition to defense. Her standard outfit is a high-slit Sexy Backless Outfit, a sturdy breast plate, and plated thigh-high boots.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, characters can reproduce this effect by wearing their armor with a robe or skirt, which will hang out over any trousers or leg armor.
  • In the Japan-exclusive game Sigma Harmonics, one of Neon's possessions has her wearing one of these. With multiple swords built into the dress.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening introduced the War Cleric class, a female-only class that promotes from the standard Cleric and Troubadour classes. The outfit War Clerics wear consists of a normal dress covered with leather armor, gauntlets, a helmet, and a metal farthingale-like structure around the skirt.
  • Lady Aribeth de Tylmarande in Never Winter Nights wears an ankle-length long skirt over her armor, tucked under her breastplate to give this appearance. However, this is only in character portraits, promotional art, and cutscenes, her in-game model lacks this long skirt and shows her armored boots and greaves which would otherwise be underneath it.
  • Some of Refia's outfits in Final Fantasy III, like the Knight and Dragoon, have a short skirt attached to the armor, perhaps to set her apart from her male companions.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, some of the generic female job classes have this look, particularly heavily armored classes like the Knight and Dragoon.
  • Fallout: New Vegas DLC 'Dead Money' introduces Vera's dress. An armour rating of 2 is nothing to boast about when you have access to 18 to 25 later on, but it's still an armoured Little Black Dress. With the right build (and accessories), you can have a very satisfying time assaulting Caesar's Legion wearing this thing.

Visual Novels
  • Saber of Fate/stay night has a regular Pimped-Out Dress that she wears armor over when she heads into battle.
  • All 6 contestants in the Princess Waltz, whose dresses (being comprised of magic and being of varying designs) are their armor. Particular note goes to Angela, who flawlessly accents her dress with a breastplate.

Western Animation

Webcomics
  • The outfit Mamma Gkika of Girl Genius wears when she's introduced looks like it could probably deflect a battleaxe stroke.


Mink Becomes This Index MostOpulent OutfitsCool Crown
Adaptational AttractivenessRule of GlamorousThe Beautiful Elite
Balls of SteelTropes in Shining ArmorBeehive Barrier
Action Dress RipDresses, Gowns and SkirtsBlood-Splattered Wedding Dress
Bare Your MidriffCostume TropesBattle Strip
Badass LongcoatRule of CoolBlade Run
Etrian OdysseyImageSource/Video GamesVideo Games
Bathtub BondingAdded Alliterative AppealBattle Boomerang

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