You've just entered your country's military force. And everyone seems to have great dress uniforms. Really fancy, with actual silk and gold.
What? Those are combat
Yes, some fiction has characters wearing combat uniforms that are more appropriate for dress uniforms.
History does make this Truth in Television
, like the Prussian military uniforms, but in combat it still counts as an Impractically Fancy Outfit
. But they look nice, so artists love to use them whenever they can, especially in anime
, and Video Games
. (And not to mention paintings and relief scultures, this trope is very much Older Than Dirt
!) The design of the clothes determines if it falls into Impractically Fancy Outfit
or Impossibly Cool Clothes
In literary genres, where we do not actually get to look at them, these are generally the mark of aristocrats
, the Miles Gloriosus
, the Armchair Military
, and the Glory Hound
. On the other hand, the serious soldiers are more practical and drably dressed, and certainly regard looking splendid as a much lower priority. Only their dress uniforms embody the trope — if then.
Their personal weapons may or may not involve Bling-Bling-BANG!
. The hat
is often a Commissar Cap
. Officers and senior enlisted may carry some stick or baton indicating their rank
, and expect their chests to be covered in various jangling medals
. Futuristic settings can even have Powered Armor
or Humongous Mecha
in this style.
This can overlap with Impossibly Tacky Clothes
, when the work is making a Take That
to this trope, or dealing with cases where the uniforms are purely for showing off wealth rather than conveying a kind of aristocratic dignity. Historically many successful mercenaries have tended to dress in elaborate and expensive ways, given that this was one of the few reliable status symbols they could spend their money on, and such get-ups are much more likely to be regarded as tacky and unsophisticated.
A sub trope is one where an individual disdains the awarding of such medals and ribbons and refuses to wear them. This is always an indicator that the person in question is a real badass, especially in comparison to the Fake Ultimate Hero
(who will usually play this trope straight).
There is a surprising degree of Truth in Television
and even Fridge Logic
in this. Note that in real life, Uniform Regulations are serious business, and in many militaries it is an offence not to wear what a person is authorised to do so. note
Also, as the Real Life
section notes, from ancient times to even recent history this trope was the standard for high ranking military officiers. This was partly out of pride, but also because a highly decorated commander does tend to bolster his men's confidence, and makes a trusted commander easy to locate and rally to in battle. The fact that this makes it easy for snipers to figure out who to shoot at is making even this a Discredited Trope
, however, and instead turning it into
a sign of Suicidal Overconfidence
in a commander. While modern uniforms tend to be more subtle, the stylishness and tailored fit of uniforms is still considered, as this can be a powerful Magic Feather
. Looking in the mirror, the wearer sees a good looking soldier. They wouldn't go to that much trouble making a nice uniform only to send the wearer on a suicide mission. Maybe he does stand a chance of pulling of that stuff he bragged about wanting to do in boot camp
of Costume Porn
Compare Ermine Cape Effect
, Costume Porn
, Pimped-Out Dress
, Stylish Protection Gear
, Highly Conspicuous Uniform
, Gold Makes Everything Shiny
, Kicking Ass in All Her Finery
See also Custom Uniform
, Modest Royalty
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Anime & Manga
- Last Exile does reserve them for officers.
- As just about all the Gundam shows.
- There are even a few Humongous Mecha examples from Gundam, like Dozle Zabi's Zaku II or M'Quve's Gouf. Taken to an extreme with the Zabi Family Custom Big Zam, which is basically a Big Zam with the same gold etching as Dozle's Zaku.
- However, it should be noted that these are not actual combat models but more of a ceremonial design. It also did not appear in any of the anime or manga, just All There in the Manual.
- There is also the higher-ranking officers of "The Sleeves" that have the nice uniforms and rather decorative embellishments on their mobile suits, especially◊ the Sinanju.◊
- This is what you get if you have lots of gold but no one willing to sell you actual military supplies.
- Subverted with the Hyaku Shiki from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and the Akatsuki from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. Both are painted in brilliant gold, (in fact, the Hyaku Shiki is the trend setter for gold mobile suits in Gundam,) but there are good reasons behind their colors. The Hyaku Shiki's scheme is a result of being covered in Anti-Beam Coating, as well as acting as a middle finger to the Titans (i.e. try and touch this), made possible through "Quattro Bajeena" being the pilot. Meanwhile, the Akatsuki takes its predecessor's special feature Up to Eleven, in that its gold armor is actually an advanced beam reflection system.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has the mobile armor Alvatore; its gold plating may be plain compared to the aforementioned designs from the other series, but it also has lavish pop-up window designs in its cockpit viewscreens! Also, it has been noted that the Alvatore's mobile suit component, the Alvaaron, has the Corner family crest on its chest. Strangely it does not show on any of its depictions.
- The Black Order uniforms from D.Gray-Man. Fanciness partially justified though, as the Exorcists intentionally make themselves targets.
- The Britannian military in Code Geass probably counts — Cornelia and the Knights of Rounds' uniforms in particular. To be fair, though, most of the time they fight inside mecha, and wear appropriate suits while doing so. Footsoldiers have appropriately helpful attire.
- Haruhi and the SOS-Brigade wore those◊ in the Deep-Immersion Gaming scenes of "Day Of Sagittarius". Fancy!
- That's relatively tame for the high-ranked naval officers they were played as. On the other hand, it would still be more practical to wear a spacesuit, battle damage and all.
- The Headliners of The Five Star Stories wear fairly elaborate costumes, unsurprising considering the manga is basically Mamoru Nagano's giant love letter to weaponized bling. No as crazy as some of the other examples, though as the Headdliners mainly serve as pilots for Humongous Mecha. The ordinary ground troops typically wear more sensible uniforms with design elements borrowed from recent real-life military gear.
- The Mortar Headds themselves◊ also fit this trope to a T.
- In his and (of all people) Kunihiko Ikuhara's collaborative two-volume light novel Schell Bullet, however, his love of bling manifested itself rather more spectacularly (it helps when your co-author is also a fashion model). Junior Navy officers wearing capes as a part of an everyday uniform? Infantry grunts with an Italian Renaissance-inspired headgear? Quilted body armor? True, modern body armor has quilted layers, but they are usually concealed, as quilts present a weak points. Knee-high boots? Two-inch heels (for men, mind you)? What are you smoking, man, really?
- Averted — barely — in Trinity Blood, by virtue of the fact that the members of the AX are not technically soldiers (although they are a paramilitary organization. Some of the female members of the team might better qualify as wearing Impractically Fancy Habits (see also Nuns Are Mikos and Girls with Guns).
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, even the lowliest foot soldier apparently gets outfitted with one of those snazzy uniforms, and they're not just for show — in the 2003 anime adaptation, we see Amestris soldiers going into battle wearing them.
- What about France from Axis Powers Hetalia? Even his own allies tell him "you're too flashy, moron!"
- Apparently the guiding principle of The Empire in Legend of the Galactic Heroes; its highest-ranking admirals sport full capes (in unique colors!) and field marshals' batons.
- Their insignia is literally embroidered on the uniforms. In real silver thread. It goes from rather simple patterns for junior officers to the ornate tapestries just short of the flak vest for admirals. You see, the Empire really dug that ceremony thing.
- Just about every important military character in Glass Fleet, though Michel and Vetti's are the most noticeable. Justified in that Glass Fleet is the French Revolution in space!
- Not exactly war, but Revolutionary Girl Utena clearly has this in mind with the duelist outfits. Hell, half of the time Anthy uses her powers is to add frills and tassels to Utena's Custom Uniform and just generally make her look more awesome.
- In line with historical practice around the time of the French Revolution, Rose of Versailles features some fancy uniforms, especially on the lead character. Even the 'dregs of the army' (the French Guard, which Oscar commands at the end of the series) gets their share of bling.
- Also features in the sequel Eikou no Napoleon: Eroica. It backfires spectacularly on the Mamluks, the most blinged one by virtue of wearing large amounts of gold jewels when going at war, when Napoleon tells his men that, just for once, he'll recognize their right of sacking and why the Mamluks are so shiny. The Battle of the Pyramids ends in a French triumph.
- Somewhat justified in One Piece. A lot of the really blinged out Marines in the series have Devil Fruit powers which turn both them and their clothes into some kind of element. The one that doesn't, Sengoku, drops the bling when using his powers (though said powers provide a whole different bling).
- Played both straight and subverted among the Time-Space Administration Bureau aces and specialists. While their personal Barrier Jacket occasionally has blings, frills or spikes, they also have modestly designed regular military uniforms.
- Takuto from Star Driver really knows how to dress in combat, as demonstrated here◊. Please note, that's not an exaggeration, that's really what he wears during combat.
- In Ghost in the Shell: Arise Batou's JMSDF dress uniform looks significantly more blingy than the Major's JGSDF one, though the latter probably just didn't go all the way (like Kurtz with her Absolute Cleavage).
- Thor: Loki's green-and-gold armour is magnificent to behold. It's more stylish than Thor's or Odin's, which is not surprising considering that Loki is a master of deception, so appearances are important to him.
- Squaring the Circle, the true story of the Polish uprising of the 1980s, had a Polish general trying on an ornate dress uniform and asking his secretary, "Do you think it looks too... South American?"
- Most of the Star Trek: The Original Series movies featured a relatively restrained form of this, a tailored and padded maroon-and-black uniform with gold and silver insignia, adding up to a vaguely nineteenth-century look. Again, this wasn't handled too crazily — enlisted personnel wear an eminently functional jumpsuit, Starfleet is overwhelmingly a "naval" force, and the few times we see authorized ground combat, officers exchange the heavy, stiff jackets for a black sweater similar to some Real Life military cold-weather gear (specifically, the much-missed "woolly pully" of the British Army). In an amusing postscript, Star Trek: The Next Generation reveals that the "monster maroons" lasted for over seventy years, while most Starfleet uniform designs are only in service for ten to twenty. Perhaps they were good for pulling Green Skinned Space Babes?
- TOS' dress uniforms are in the three primary colors but lavishly trimmed with gold braid and cute little triangular decoration ribbons for extra bling.
- Averted in Star Trek Into Darkness. Starfleet's dress uniforms are simple and utilitarian; even their rank insignia has a matte finish. The closest they get to bling are the black uniforms and sky blue sashes of the honor guard.
- Parodied in the Three Stooges short "You Nazty Spy!" where Curly, playing Field Marshal Gallstone, is covered in medals, including one on the back of his pants.
- Just before the Battle of Cowpens in The Patriot, the French Major Villeneuve puts on his elaborate white, sky blue and gold uniform (which we had never seen before). Benjamin Martin gives him a look, and Major Villeneuve says, "If I die, I will die well-dressed."
- In Sergey Bondarchuk's Waterloo (1970), we see only the flashiest-dressed troops, including Polish Lancers of the Guard, carabiners and Prussian cavalrymen, even though their historical presence in the campaign was smaller or non-existent at the actual battle.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Deputy Commissioner Foley wears his full dress uniform while leading the police charge against Bane's forces.
- In The Alamo (2004) Davy Crockett lampshades this aspect of Santa Anna at one point, calling him a peacock.
- The Jaffa on Stargate SG-1. Lampshaded when an actor on Show Within a Show Wormhole Extreme asked why the good guys wore camouflage but the bad guys didn't. O'Neill's response: "Maybe that's why they're dead."
- A few episodes later in the series, it was specifically noted that Jaffa weapons and armor are designed more for psychological intimidation than actual effectiveness, the better to cow primitive populations into accepting their new "gods". If you're trying to impress people, you don't want to hide your troops with camo...
- Also worth noting is that their uniforms were armor effective against just about anything they'd face short of their own weapons (steel plates and chain mail will stop most bladed weapons that resisting peasants will have). When they first came to Earth in the pilot, small arms fire just bounced off — one Jaffa was killed, but that was after a considerable amount of gunfire. It wasn't until the SGC became a recognized defensive asset that needed better weapons and got them that the armor became obsolete.
- Those were Serpent Guards, not Jaffa, those guys are elite troops and thus get the best armour.
- The Centauri in Babylon 5: sort of Roman meets Napoleonic. Initially you think that those are just the palace guards, but then some guy on a covert mission to grab G'Kar shows up dressed like that...
- In a later mission they wore obscuring robes to hide their identity. They were found out because they had the full uniform, including unit insignia, underneath.
- The human officers on B5 have fancy grey dress uniforms with braid on the shoulders for ceremonial occasions, and boring blue-and-brown uniforms for everyday use. However, when B5 breaks away from Earth Alliance and Delenn produces spiffy new black uniforms for everybody, those uniforms appear to be used for both dress and combat... though, to be fair, it would be asking a lot of poor Delenn to supply two separate uniform designs on such short notice.
- The separatist uniforms are an aversion, as they aren't inherently impractical for what the characters are doing.
- Though we do find out in a later episode that each of these uniforms is meticulously constructed from special materials that, according to Lennier, are a great honor to wear. So it seems that from the Minbari perspective the separatist uniforms are still very much Bling of War. It's just that the Minbari idea of Bling of War is very subdued.
- We also see in "Gropos" that Earth Force has a dedicated marine corps used for ground-based combat. Their uniforms are a functional olive-green. And even their commander, Gen. Franklin, exchanges his dressier uniform for a more cover-friendly green outfit while his forces are engaged in combat. In other episodes we also see that B5 security has an all-black SWAT-style uniform they use for more dangerous situations.
- Minbari have robes and carve their headbones according to a system of heraldry associated with their culture(which justifies Delenn's headbone looking like a circlet). Delenn has really fancy robes and being the proper Lady of War that she is, goes through Space Battles without causing a wrinkle.
- Goldar and Scorpina of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers wear gold-coloured plate mail.
- In Game of Thrones, The Kingsguard uniform is incredibly fancy, in striking contrast to the utilitarian armour worn by the Stark household guard. Lampshaded by Ned Stark, who comments dryly to a member of the King's Guard, "Very handsome armor. Not a scratch on it."
- It's revealed in this featurette that King Renly Baratheon's armour (which included velvet fabric) was the most complicated costume created for the first two seasons of the show.
- Ser Loras Tyrell has even more glorious armor, with small flowery patterns covering every inch of it. Makes sense, given that he's as camp as you can be while still being a badass knight.
- Compare the above entry for the source material, A Song of Ice and Fire. The series tuned it down considerably.
- Star Trek: Enterprise. In the Mirror Universe episode, the standard blue jumpsuits of the Enterprise officers are adorned with medals, epaulettes and Sam Browne belts, as Starfleet is the militant arm of an empire bent on conquest.
- In Original Star Trek the male Mirror Universe uniforms aren't that different (except maybe for Kirk's) but the women's uniforms include a bare midrif - and a ceremonial but very effective dagger for any male crewman who crosses the line.
- Both played straight and subverted in Warhammer 40,000.
- The Imperium of Man (or should I say PIMPerium) pretty much defines this trope. See for yourself: The God Emperor of Mankind,◊ who might just as well be the avatar of Bling, his own Adeptus Custodes Terminators,◊ and a Space Marine Venerable Dreadnought,◊ which is basically enshrinement taken literally. The SpaceMarines and Grey Knights have all kind of skulls, eagles and junk on their Powered Armor. Supposedly, some of them are "blessed" to be useful. And the Chaos Space Marines seem to have a spike fetish, but they kinda use them, at least. Sanguinius excels all others in this respect as he is described in the Horus Heresy series, wearing his fancy armour with a web of jewelled chains on his head and wings.
- At first glance, the model of Ultramarines Second Company Captain Cato Sicarius makes you think, "Wow, that's a lot of bling, looks pretty gaudy to me." Then you read his fluff, and you realize that he earned every single piece of that bling on the battlefield. Then suddenly his bling is less gaudy and more badass.
- Parodied with Marneus Calgar of Ultramarines aka Papa Smurf, the biggest pimp in the galaxy as can be seen here.
- With the Imperial Guard, it tends to be a mishmash. Take the Cadians for example. They wear practical body armour in camouflage colours, and tend to resemble contemporary soldiers. But they're quite likely to be fighting alongside a chap looking like this◊ or this◊.
- Done by the Mordian Iron Guard regiment, who wear fantastically gaudy dress uniforms into war. Many enemies have been fatally surprised to discover that the flashy uniforms are being worn by fiercely disciplined and competent soldiers. The concepts of coloured uniforms helping morale similar to their use in Napoleanic Warfare's smoky battlefields likely applies to the Mordians as well, amplified by them frequently fighting the bowel-voidingly disturbing forces of Chaos and how the side of the planet Mordia everyone lives on (the other side being burning and over-lit) is without sunlight.
- It's not limited to armor either: Commissar Yarrick owns a pimped-up Baneblade called the Fortress of Arrogance.
- The Imperium as a whole has a tendency to try and make anything bigger than a jetbike resemble a cathedral. And we're not talking about a subtle, restrained cathedral here, it's the full Notre Dame effect.
- Orks bling it up, too. It's just that instead of skull moldings and gold, they go for...skulls. And helmets. On sticks. As a way of honoring a worthy opponent.
- Of course, defined by the Bad Moons clan, and the Flash Gitz in particular, who believe the richer and flashier they are, the more powerful they are. They even have their gretchin talk big about them just to make other, less fortunate orks jealous. Of course, instead of rising to any kind of position of power in their clans, they instead get booted out for being too self-absorbed in their wealth. They usually end up as mercenaries for various xenos species in the galaxy... or as Korsairs.
- Imperial Bling of War works against humans when fighting orks: since to the Large and In Charge-following orks, all humans are the same size, they figure the 'umiez solve the "who's in charge" problem by giving their leaders bigger and awesomer hats (which is true to an extent). Which is why many a Commissar Cap has been removed from its owner's head (and the head from the body as well) to be put on an ork warboss as a symbol of authority.
- Eldar are mostly relatively restrained, just going for functional bling like magic gems that increase their magic power, but Eldrad goes a bit over the top.
- Well, sometimes,◊ at least.
- Eldar can go either way largely because each of their Aspect Warrior castes have specific uniforms. This ranges from the dark and intimidating Dark Reapers who seem to be aiming for a "Death in armour with a missile launcher" look; right the way up to the Fire Dragons who, true to their name, wear bright orange armour with yellow helmets. Special characters, as so often happens, turn this way up; Asurmen being a great example with blue and gold armour, an enormous red helmet with a crest and a huge flag on his back.
- Eldar always go into battle with spirit stones, which are small gems that are made to capture the souls of the Eldar when they are killed so they can be retrieved later. Otherwise their souls will end up in the warp where it will be devoured by daemons, especially Slaanesh.
- All high level commanders in the 40k universe are guilty of this trope. This is made especially apparent in the Dawn of War series, particularly in Dark Crusade when your respective commander gains all of the available wargear. That's when they look REALLY fancy.
- Except Tau, who are more pragmatic and whose commanders look little different from their other mecha, and the Tyranids, whose commanders' bling is Squick.
- The Sun Armor artifact from GURPS: Dungeon Fantasy glows brightly, is made of orichalcum and decorated to look like a sunrise. But it's as functional as it is gaudy, the cosmic armor cannot be bypassed by anything short of a God.
- In Exalted, If it is an Solar artifact, It will by blingy, From Power Armor and Weapons to Warstiders and the Solars themself.
- Hell, most armor for the Exalted is pimp as all hell. Solars get the best use out of oricalchum (magical gold), Lunars work best with magically-infused moonsilver, and the Dragon-Blooded get lots of mileage out of jade (which comes in six different colors, no less). The only magical material that isn't automatically suited for bling is starmetal, and that's because it's so hard to obtain that it's used in the most utilitarian of fashions.
- Magic: The Gathering has the plane of Bant, where this is standard dress for soldiers. It's justified in that war in Bant is so heavily tied to a code of honour that no one uses ambushes or sneak attacks - Bant soldiers don't even wear armour on the back of their bodies because no one ever dares to sneak up on them from behind.
- The Glitter Boys from Rifts have this for a practical reason: The ultra-bright mirror finish of their chrome-plated armour is an unmatched defence against laser weaponry.
- Techno Wizards have armor and weapons that sparkle with various gems, which serve to magically empower them.
- The better to go with all the Gorgeous Period Dress, some productions of Elisabeth have this for the male royalty. (Especially Takarazuka productions — Rudolf looks alarmingly like a Disney Prince. In a good way.)
- In a similar gag to the Three Stooges one above, a production of The Pirates of Penzance had the Modern Major General bragging about the medals on his chest: "Yes, I got these on the frontier. I had a couple on the back 'ere *indicates coattails* but they fell off."
- The formal SeeD uniforms in Final Fantasy VIII were decorated with brocade, the female version involves a rather impractical-looking skirt, and generally look like what would happen if a member of The Ginyu Force traded fashion tips with Hugo Boss. The student uniforms, on the other hand, are a practical-looking ensemble that can be best described as combat fatigues crossed with a Japanese school uniform. Of course, it's also worth noting that the uniforms are apparently only worn either on-campus or when necessary to "show the flag," and indeed the protagonists never wear the uniforms at all after two sequences in the beginning.
- The enemy◊ generals in the Archanea and Jugdral series of Fire Emblem games often wear a long◊ extravagant◊ Black◊ Bad Ass Long Coat complete with a High Collar of Doom.
- From the Custom Robo series, the A.I.R.S. robo. It's an Army-Issue Ray Sky model, whose specs and equipment have been drastically increased for military use. It is also gold-plated from head to toe.
- Also, the aptly named Carat robo from Custom Robo Arena. It's an enhanced Little Sprinter model with military-grade specs and parts, but extremely gaudy and diamond-encrusted. Something of a subversion though, as it is a Rich Bitch's custom design for her personal use (see Screw the Rules, I Have Money!).
- The Nemesis Army in City of Heroes work for a 200-year-old Mad Scientist, and dress like they're about to fight Napoleon. With their blunderbuss-like (but very effective) rifles and bright-colored uniforms, the fans have nicknamed them "The Marching Band from Hell".
- The Imperial Legion's armour◊ in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. You really can understand why they tuned it down for Oblivion.
- The scary part: that's the grunt's uniform. Higher ranking soldiers have an even fancier getup, while the leader wears the Lord's Mail, a rather tricked-out breastplate originally worn by a founder of the Empire, and wields a Flaming Sword.
- Oblivion's Legionnaires are genuinely pretty subdued, but some of the city guard outfits are less so, like Bruma's bright yellow. This trope is played entirely straight, however, by the big pimpin' Watch Captains◊ in the Imperial City.
- Lyude from Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is an ambassador connected to the Imperial Army, so he can be somewhat forgiven for his extravagant military-esque outfit and apparently brass-plated gun-horn - although his brother and sister, actual soldiers, have no such excuse.
- Players of Battlefield Play 4 Free who pre-ordered Battlefield 3 were rewarded with a fancy beret for one of their player-characters which was unavailable any other way.
- Bionic Commando: Rearmed features the 1st and 2nd division, led by an officer in fancy dress - complete with so many medals that he's bulletproof from frontal attacks.
- The Terran representative from Space Empires V.
- The Imperial Generals of Valkyria Chronicles wear them in combat; gold trim, cords, epaulettes and an ocean of gold buttons abound. Gallia's military officers wear a much more modest (if not less elaborate) uniform. Imperial Prince Maximilian, while not wearing a uniform, wears an entire suit of elaborately decorative silver plate mail with gold accents, including a golden laurel crown, as part of his garb of station, even when just sitting around.
- King Cailan Theirin from Dragon Age: Origins is decked out in massive gold armor. Sophia Dryden's armor might count as well, considering how fancy and decorative it looks.
- Sebastian Vael, from Dragon Age II's "The Exiled Prince" Downloadable Content, is a Prince who wears bright white chain-mail with lots of gold. It was custom made for him when he was shipped off to join the clergy, both for being a troublemaker, and being Spare To The Throne. His codpiece is a golden emblem of Andraste's face (think Jesus crossed with Joan of Arc).
- Link's Magic Armour in Twilight Princess features golden armour that requires a constant supply of rupees or it will change to iron and become too heavy to move around in.
- The Mass Effect universe is generally pretty restrained (or at least low on the sparkle), but some of the Krogan armour certainly qualifies, especially the Warlord-class◊ and Battlemaster-class◊ lines. A Justified Trope in this case - the krogan don't really care about cover, they're naturally incredibly tough, and they certainly want their enemies to see them before they die.
- In Spore: Galactic Adventures you can design your own captain to play in adventures. The most expensive and powerful armour you can attach to your captain are covered in gold and sparkly gems.
- In Minecraft, you can forge gold armor and weapons, but in a subversion, they're nearly useless as anything other than a display of wealth, since iron is much easier to find and the resulting equipment is twice as strong.
- Diamonds can also be used to make armor and swords, but unlike gold, anything crafted with diamonds not only looks pretty, but they are also extremely durable, requiring at least over 1000 uses before the tools break.
- Protoss in StarCraft II suddenly developed a taste for flashy decorations, and that is after they were shown walking around almost naked in Brood War.
- This is actually due to improvements in technology allowing the Zealots' and High Templars' golden body armor to show on their in-game models. The big yellow segments were always present in the original's and BW's concept art.
- While Gears of War is a little too Grim Dark to get into this full-tilt, elements appear, especially in the third game. All the Gears have uniforms adorned in strangely useless blue LED lights that serve little point other than to make it impossible to hide in dark corners (particularly odd, since most of the fighting in Gears 2 takes place either underground or in decaying buildings). Gears 3 ups the ante by adding in a whole host of cosmetic weapon skins for multiplayer, including bright pink, a glowing aura in appropriate colors (blue for COG, red for Locust) that changes appropriately if an enemy picks the weapon up, and even a liquid metal skin. A few are unlocked by in-game achievements, but most are bought a la carte — getting all of them costs about $40, 2/3 the price of the entire game.
- The Palace Guards of Gears of War 3 play this trope completely straight, having counterintuitively ornate (and heavy) helmets and coats. They're not quite on the level of bling found in most of these examples, but Locust designs tend toward brown, being an underground species.
- While there's a bit of this all over the Assassin's Creed series, Cesare Borgia of the Papal Army is pretty notable. His silver breast-plate has cherubs embossed all over it.
- The Papal Guards have some really fancy armor, but not even Cesare's armor can top Ezio's Armor of Brutus.
- Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow has Joyeuse, a sword made of pure gold. When Reality Ensues the player will notice that being made of gold it's very weak and best for either showing off or being sold.
- World of Warcraft justifies this, to an extent, with the gems and glowy enchantments that both add bling and magically increase an item's power.
- Unique armors in Neverwinter Nights 2 fall into this quite a bit.
- Prince Tolten from Lost Odyssey is completely kitted out in gold armour (with gold sword). Not only that, the armour is encrusted with diamonds.
- The Sheredyn of Endless Space have gold-plated Powered Armor and gold-plated prows on their starships; even the decadent United Empire can't match the bling of of the Sheredyn.
- The various military forces in Girl Genius are generally practical — by the standards of the mid-19th century. And they usually include a Nice Hat.
- In fact, the Jägermonsters ARE this trope in spades. Originally, in their "generic monster" days, they wore uniforms that actually were uniforms, but it's pretty much unknown these days to see two wearing the same outfit.
- The uniforms worn in Schlock Mercenary are quite modest compared to a lot of these other examples, though they're definitely not camouflaged and the floating epaulets (shaped like stars, lightning bolts, planets, or simple metal plates depending on rank) are kind of conspicuous. Even if the epaulets are concealed grenades (or antimatter bombs in Commander Kevyn Andreyason's case).
- This Hark! A Vagrant illustrates the lack of practicality in this form of battle dress.
- Pturrd's casing in Second Empire is clearly meant to evoke this, as well as his overt General Failure Armchair Military characteristics.
- 'The side with the best uniforms always loses.'
- Generally averted in modern day military. Bling attracts snipers - therefore field officers do not wear rank insignia nor Sam Browne belts.
- In the age of "gentlemanly" warfare, bright uniforms were used to actually help soldiers stand out amid all the smoke (it wasn't until just over a century ago that smokeless gunpowder was invented). This was actually a morale booster, as soldiers were assured that their fellows were still around amid the chaos. Blingy uniforms could also help to show troops, subordinate officers and couriers where the commanders were to aid in battlefield communication.
- The logical extreme would likely be the uniforms worn by Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which he had to be sewn into in order to get the right fit. This fact is often credited as being one of the reasons doctors were unable to save his life after he was shot in 1914.
- Some old-school French units would take their full-dress uniforms into the field in order to put them on (white gloves and all) on the day of a battle. This was most notably the case with Napoleon's Old Guard. Also, some commanders would put on extremely fancy uniforms and often dress their aides-de-camp in specially designed ones. Joachim Murat, one of Napoleon's marshals and king of Naples, was famous for gaudy, brightly coloured get-ups which to some seemed more appropriate for an opera production than the battlefield. With all that bling among his marshals and generals, the best way for Napoleon to stand out was to dress very plainly, usually in an undecorated bicorne hat, an undress uniform and over that a simple grey greatcoat.
- British liaison officers working with the Spanish irregulars would ride around through the war-torn Spanish countryside in full dress uniform so they couldn't be hung as spies (which was their job, mostly making maps). They didn't worry about getting seen because they had really good (and hideously expensive) horses.
- The most extreme example would be Hussar uniforms (the cavalry uniform with the cross-bands on the chest, short fur hat, and jacket on one shoulder). Originally worn by Hungarian units. Everyone copied the look (especially officers) for most of the 19th century, despite being an absolute pain to wear. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's winged hussars added wings and leopard skins.
- Apart from their winged hussars, Polish-Lithuanian nobility, who claimed a descent from the ancient Sarmatians, also liked a good scale armour. It was more expensive, heavier, and offered worse protection than regular armour, so it was good only for parades - but it just looked so Sarmatian.
- Swiss mercenaries had a reputation so Bad Ass that they wore outrageously multicolored outfits to make sure everyone on the battlefield knew who they were dealing with. The German landsknechte imitated their fighting style as well as fashion sense. To this day, the Swiss Guard◊ wear brightly colored uniforms when performing ceremonial duties as the Papal bodyguard. Guardsmen wear more practical uniforms when they are actually working, however.
- The Landsknechte generally tended to exaggerate and embellish their uniforms even more than the Swiss, with massive puffed and slashed sleeves and huge feathered hats becoming common. Landsknechte were generally mercenaries of very low social standing, and their costume was at once an advertisement of how wealthy and successful they had become to prospective employers and two fingers up to the more restrained sartorial tastes of most Europeans of the day. It was deliberately intended to be shocking, garish and outrageous to show how little the Landsknecht cared about social conventions - often to the point of oversized phallic codpieces. Given that they were generally wandering soldiers of fortune, rarely had dependents to support and might die at any time, elaborate clothing was one of the few status symbols they could reliably spend any money they had left over from drinking and whoring on.
- The Nazis. Let's face it, despite the notoriety of their deeds, those dudes were fashionable.
- Small wonder because their uniforms were designed by Hugo Boss.
- Dress uniforms, especially that famous black SS uniforms with lots of leather and silver braid — yes. But common feldgrau was usually as ill-fitting, baggy, stained, torn and generally unappealing as most combat fatigues in the world.
- In practice, the most impressive dress uniforms in terms of bling were those of the Kriegsmarine, out of all arms, due to them sticking to the tradition of the Imperial Navy. An naval officer had at least 2 service dresses (blues / whites), a full dress◊, a parade dress◊ (frilliest of them), a walking-out dress for city wear and an evening dress uniform (which could have also had a lot of decorations and a ceremonial dagger for even more formal events). They subverted the trope by wearing mostly the service dress or civilian jumpers and leather coats aboard ship.
- Averted, interestingly enough, by Hitler himself, who wore a simple party uniform, in part to portray himself as a man of the people, in part because he had been a lance-corporal in WW1. Even though he could cover his chest in medals, he made a point of only wearing what he legitimately won in battle.
- Oh, the uniforms of Reichsmarschall Göring. They couldn't even be called "uniforms" because they, well, weren't uniform. Perfectly tailored and designed by him, to reflect his unique position, self-aggrandizing titles, and the amount of loot he stole along the way. He also loved medals. His Staff of Authority was also superior to the regular officer's baton. There was a joke in Nazi Germany: "What is one gör? It's the maximum amount of metal a man can wear on his chest without tipping over."
- There's a (possibly apocryphal) anecdote about Göring and Hitler going to inspect ships under construction at a naval yard. Göring arrived first and went aboard a ship; when Hitler showed up the Reichsmarschall put his head through a porthole to watch Hitler's arrival. When Der Führer saw this, he mentioned to an aide, "Now he really has gone too far — he's hung an entire battleship around his neck!"
- Regular officers of the Wehrmacht did not carry batons. The baton was the symbol of rank of Field Marshals. Goering, at his own urging, was made Reichsmarshall by Hitler, the only one ever, and thus his baton was gaudier then that of a mere Field Marshal. "Der Dicke" (the Fat One) did love his rank, power, and bling.
- Goring for the record was a WW1 fighter pilot and a legitimately successful one (he was the Red Baron's squadron XO). The Luftwaffe under his command achieved several great successes. So, with the caveat, his bling would have been impressive enough had he just kept the medals he had legitimately earned, but for some reason, he went excessive.
- Golden-Age of Piracy pirates liked to wear their treasure, making it harder to steal. Bartholomew Roberts wandered around with a giant, diamond-studded cross on a chain around his neck.
- Real-Life Inspiration for the page pic Fleet Admiral Togo Heihachiro.
- Imperial Russia and Britain.◊
- In William Manchester's biography of Douglas MacArthur American Caesar, MacArthur regularly wore all of his medals on his uniform, even in combat. Given that this was MacArthur, it was a lot. He only stopped the practice when he learned that General Joseph Stilwell didn't wear any medals or decorations at all, except for the tiniest rank insignia. Annoyed that Stilwell was showing him up in the "Less is More" department (as well as the Glamour 12-Point Accessory Guide) Mac Arthur soon switched to the minimalist look that he had for the landings at Leyte.
- Except for his hat, which sported, according to Fleet Admiral Bill Halsey (another unpretentious practitioner of the "less is more" school of military dress), "more gold braid than I thought it was possible to put on a hat".
- General George Patton started the blingy trend during peacetime training, with his ivory-handled handgun, tailored uniform and his tank in the colors of the American flag, and he proposed for his tank troops a deep green uniform with gilded helmet and buttons (which got rebuked by the press).
- General Winfield Scott ("Old Fuss And Feathers") lost the Whig nomination for President to Zachary Taylor ("Old Rough And Ready") due to an image problem related (in part) to the care taken with his uniform. In fact his clothing alone took up six horse-drawn carriages. General Ulysses S. Grant, on the other hand, took to the field with the clothes on his back, a hairbrush and a toothbrush.
- Leonid Brezhnev was so fond of the Bling of War that he awarded himself loads of improbable awards, including World War II awards as late as the 1970s (including the Order of Victory, a diamond-and-ruby affair awarded only in the single-digit range to a few top commanders, which Brezhnev could hardly count himself among), and the coveted Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of Socialist Labour awards for such momentous achievements as his birthday (Brezhnev was one of only two individuals — the other being Marshal Zhukov, the conqueror of Berlin — to receive four Hero of the Soviet Union medals). This eventually got to the point where a a common Soviet joke of the era was about Brezhnev needing chest expansion surgery to accommodate an ever-increasing number of medals. After his death, a number of award regulations were changed to specifically exclude the awards being granted for things such as birthdays, and his Order of Victory was outright revoked.
- Idi Amin, who, like Brezhnev, had to have the length of his tunics extended to accommodate his absurdly large collection of awards.
- Napoleon Bonaparte: "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.".
- Samurai armor and helmets. Some examples can be seen here. The extravagant ones all come from the Edo period — with its absence of wars — and are the equivalent of European Parade Armour, such as this example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Moammar Qaddafi, the real Liberace among Northern-African dictators.
- During World War I, the German army was distinctive in that its combat uniforms were (at least at the start of the war) just camouflaged versions of dress uniforms. Hence all the spiked helmets: those were part of the dress uniform of all German armies, and so they kept those in the combat version; same for double-breasted cavalry outfits and so forth.
- Technically they were field-grey versions of the coloured (mainly blue) uniforms that were worn for peacetime service, which however had come in different grades of "bling" depending on whether it was worn e. g. for garrison drill or parades. And the spiked leather helmets at least could be said to have provided a little more protection than the cloth caps and hats worn by the other armies before the introduction of steel helmets.
- The Australians in WWII, unable to afford more than one type, also used a single uniform for all occasions - combat, sleeping, formal wear, everything. This led to annoyance when Americans in prettier leave-uniforms got all the girls.
- Pretty much all armies started World War I with well-decorated uniforms. The exceptions were the armies from the Commonwealth (continuous wars had made them realize that wearing bright red was a bad idea when facing accurate weapons, so they had switched to khaki), the US Army (that had fought a war in tropical climates at the end of the XIX century wearing blue wool uniforms, and started introducing alternate materials with khaki colour immediately after), Japan (that had started switching from blue to khaki before the Russo-Japanese War and switched faster after they saw how accurate the Russian riflemen were) and the Royal Italian Army (usually plagued by incompetence among officers and Obstructive Bureaucrat but praised for their elegant dark blue uniforms, the Royal Italian Army suddenly switched the home country uniforms to their trademark grey-green after a civilian who had read about the battles of the Russo-Japanese War pointed out the blue uniforms made them easy targets and experiments confirmed it. They had previously adopted khaki for colonial service due the issues in wearing blue under the African sun). The Russian Army adopted khaki uniforms in 1907, after using dyed khaki uniforms in the Russo-Japanese War. Accurate rifle fire and sniping of officers made everyone adopt more sensible uniforms.
- While the Aztec jaguar warriors actually had quite useful armor for their climate and time period, they probably didn't need it to be covered in feathers, gems, and war paint as well.
- From the 2010 Moscow Victory Day Parade, compare the uniforms of the soldiers from Turkmenistan◊ and Armenia◊. The Turkmen general even wore a Custom Uniform and rode on a white horse, while all the Armenians, even the leaders of the column, wore regular uniforms and simply put their medals on. (Turkmenistan, of course, is the country that was ruled by Saparmurat Niyazov, a crazy dictator if there ever was one.) And Armenia is one of few CIS nations with real military experience.
- The Mess Dress uniform (the one worn for dinners, parties and balls) for the Honourable Artillery Company (UK), to the point where privates from those unit get more bling than a lot of commissioned officers from other units.
- The British Royal Guards are a relatively subdued example, but there's a reason we stopped making our squaddies wear bright red jackets for anything but peacetime ceremonial duties.
- The British military only gives out medals for campaigns and exceptional acts during battle, so most British servicemembers only wear one or two campaign medals/ribbons on their uniforms and even those with several years of service will only have one row compared to the chestful of medals their American counterparts can accrue even in a short career.
- A rather ironic subversion is the evolution of the "casual" subculture amongst football hooligans in the UK during the The Seventies and The Eighties. Because football firms had very distinctive styles of dress (stereotypically skinheads and Doc Martens), the police could easily identify hooligans and contain them. Liverpool and Everton fans brought back European fashions and designer labels from their away games, and their firms began wearing them to their games. Other fans initially laughed at this "poncey" new trend, until they realized that the Liverpudlian firms were never getting arrested because the police didn't immediately identify them. Soon, everyone was doing it, but for a time, the football fans' Bling of War actually served to camouflage them rather than make them stand out.
- Since the late 18th century the number of orders and decorations increased dramatically as many countries instituted new ones; the 1780s and 1790s also saw the introduction of decorations for combattants below officer rank and the end of the Napoleonic Wars that of campaign medals, i. e. decorations not just for those who performed deeds of valour or that were exceptional in other ways, but to everybody who had been part of the forces in the field. Thus the chests of military men became decorated with a lot more ribbons and pieces of enameled metal than before. This was also reflected in painted portraits, where an officer usually would be shown wearing all his decorations to the point that it was quite common that orders or medals awarded after an officer had sat for his portrait would be painted in additionally later. How many of his decorations an officer would actually wear every day was an entirely different matter, but of course these portraits often were used as reference by the makers of historical movies and television series, leading to slip-ups where people are shown wearing decorations that they only were awarded long after the year a film is set in.
- This becomes particularly glaring when not only the decoration is shown too early in time for that particular person, but becomes "impossible" in general terms. This troper for instance recalls a British TV series about the life of Edward VII in which Otto Von Bismarck (born 1815) was shown wearing an Iron Cross in the 1860s and Wilhelm II (born 1859) was shown wearing one in the late 19th century. The original Iron Cross was awarded exclusively during the Wars of Liberation (1813-1815), its second incarnation exclusively during the Franco-German War (1870/71) and the third one exclusively during World War 1 (1914-1918).
- There is an old anecdote that right before a battle with Rome, Antiochus III asked Hannibal Barca, who was a guest of his at the time, whether his army will be enough for the Romans. Hannibal took a look and said "Yes. They are very greedy, but it'll be enough."
- Germanic warriors loved this. They would frequently have inlaid and Gem-Encrusted weapons (usually on sheaths and hilts for obvious reasons), and some swords had holes drilled into the hilt or guard to hang rings which had a mystic significance because their circularity represented eternity and were often used as military decorations.