"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 gown and petticoats 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 Action Girls, particularly Ladies Of War, Pretty Princess Powerhouses, 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. 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.
— Rule #7 on the Evil Empress Guide
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Anime and Manga
- Tohka wears one in Date A Live. It is even called an "Astral Dress". here◊ It changes when she taps here Super-Powered Evil Side... but it still fits this trope.
- In Soul Eater, Maka and the rest of the cast initially change out of their formal gear during a Ballroom Blitz. However later, Maka converts the Black Blood into armour in the shape of a ballgown.
- Some of the Barrier Jackets (customizable magical armor suits) worn by female mages from the Lyrical Nanoha series. Take Signum,◊ for example.
- Subaru wears this in-game in .hack//SIGN.
- As do Terajima Ryoko in the quadilogy game, being Subaru's pallette swap. Ditto Kaochin.
- Asuna shows up wearing this in several Mahou Sensei Negima! artworks soon after getting her artifact. Before long, she was wearing them in the series proper.
- See also the Adriane Knights in the Magic World, and thus by extension Yue.
- A Super Robot Power Armor version exist in Infinite Stratos in form of Uchigane◊, a Red Shirt training unit of sort. The shape is reminiscent of old-style Samurai Armor, but it has extremely feminine design (with open top for Fanservice reason). It's also listed as Defense/ Balance type.
- In Fairy Tail, some of Erza's numerous outfits are like this.
- 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).
- Hägar the Horrible's teenage daughter Honi tends to wear dresses made from riveted plates.
- 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.
- The Lady Inquisitor receives one of these in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird. It's actually a set of armor made from dragonskin, but the design causes her to delightedly describe it as "a battledress."note
- In the Walden Media film version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the White Witch wears a breastplate and a chainmail dress to battle, along with Aslan's shorn mane.
- Mary of Guise is shown wearing a fancy dress appropriate for a dowager queen under a sensible breastplate when she taunts the English after a battle in Elizabeth.
- Ironclad: When the enemy gets inside the castle, Lady Isabel changes into an elegant and surely custom-made dress incorporating armor, wearing it into battle without even tying back her long hair. It's not a practical design, there's no explanation of who made it for her, and such a garment never existed; it's just pure Rule of Glamorous.
- 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.
- The Girl in the Steel Corset: The eponymous steel corset is to be worn under a fancy dress, and it doubles as light armor.
A steel corset—thin, shiny bands with embossed flowers and leaves, held together with tiny hinges to allow ease of movement. Little gears and other decorative pieces of steel were soldered over some of the larger gaps between bands. The garment looked like an industrial metal flower garden. "The spaces are small enough that bullets and most blades won't be able to get through, and if someone hits you the bounder's going to break a knuckle or two."
- Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena's wedding dress in "Soul Possession" was both stylish, practical and pretty damn cool◊.
- Also this little number◊ from "Return of The Valkyrie".
- Game of Thrones: Cersei has a dress with a plate of metal in it as armor, which she sports in the last half of "Blackwater" although it's abundantly clear that it's all just for show.
- 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.
Mythology and Religion
- Greek Athena is typically depicted as wearing a helmet (as a cap so that it doesn't obscure her head) and a varying amount of armor over her dress.
- 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.
- Exalted has the artifact silken armor. It's ordinary clothing made out of a magical silk that offers the protection of light armor, allowing for this look.
- 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.
- The hoplite class in Etrian Odyssey III, pictured above, wears dresses that are loaded with armor plating.
- Chris Lightfellow of Suikoden III wears armor with a skirt.
- Vanillaware often uses this design for female fighters, especially those with heavy armor.
- SoulCalibur 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.
- 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.
- Alva's Set from Dark Souls II plays this straight to a tee, it's a knight armor with a red skirt. Unlike most examples, not only it can be worn by both gender, Alva, the owner of this armor was male.
- 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 has some rather recent examples:
- 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.
- The Shrine Maidens and Priestesses from Fire Emblem Fates wear◊ outfits◊ that look like a cross between this trope and traditional miko robes. It's further empathized with Princess◊ Sakura's◊ unique models.
- In Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the women in the Saint class wear long and puffy dresses◊ plus breast plates to battle. Their Over Class/Promotion, the Exemplar, take the trope Up to 11 by adding a Badass Cape and a golden shield.
- 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.◊
- Tactics Ogre, at least in the 2011 re-imagining of Let Us Cling Together, features this geddup◊ for its female knights.
- 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.
- Fallout 4 allows ballistic weave to be applied to some clothing including various sequined dresses. The weave makes the dress much more effective than most of the armor in the game and puts the wearer into high heals in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
- Some of the higher level tank armor sets in Final Fantasy XIV qualify as unisex Battle Ballgowns - such as the Valerian Terror Knight's set,◊ or the Orthodox Fending set,◊ combining heavy armor plating with long, flowing skirts.
- Phoebe from Battleborn a high-tech yet fashionable gown into battle that both aids her and makes her look fabulous.
- Princess Zelda in Hyrule Warriors is an active playable character and as such an active combatant. As such, wears a battle dress with plate gauntlets and greaves. See for yourself.◊
- The Taken Shape is the best armor available in Dragon Age: Inquisition, although it's only found in the Trespasser DLC. It's probably not intended to be this, since it can be worn by literally any character regardless of gender or race, but the nature of the design gives it a distinctly dress-like appearance.
- Saber of Fate/stay night has a regular Pimped-Out Dress, but when she heads into battle she adds an armor overdress to it.
- 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.
- The outfit Mamma Gkika of Girl Genius wears when she's introduced looks like it could probably deflect a battleaxe stroke.
- However, the outfit General Gkika wears is a lot more reasonable. Battleaxe included.
- Downplayed in Darken, where Duchess Jill d'Avron patronizes Miss Fifi's Boutique and Armory for Simple, yet Opulent dresses with plenty of discreet reinforcements.
Komiyan: You don't look like you're wearing armour.
Jill: Discretion is the better part of fashion.
- The Lorica Segmentata of The Roman Empire is a segmented armor placed on a red tunic, soft on the inside and hard on the outside. Being a tunic, it is already skirt-like even without the armor pieces.
- The Surcoat is a cloth piece placed on chainmail armor; it covers the metal parts from sunlight to prevent burning, as well as being decorative.
- Many regnant queens in Medieval Europe wore these at some point or another. As monarchs, their presence at the battlefield with armor on like their men was a great popularity boost and inspiration for the troops, but not wearing female clothing under (i.e. dresses) would have been a scandal. The problems derived from fighting with long skirts that could be easily grabbed and used to throw them off a horse weren't such because they never got into combat proper anyway.