The widely held belief that Roman Catholic school girls are sexy and/or promiscuous by their very nature. (After all, how else do you end up with all those Naughty Nuns?) Any accurate resemblance to reality is purely accidental.
As Roman Catholicism teaches that sex is to be strictly reserved as part of marriage, it is widely believed that children in Catholic families are not taught about sexuality in a way that promotes an informed understanding of themselves and their world. This feeds into an idea that since they supposedly know nothing of these things, seducing them would be a lot easier than seducing more 'enlightened' girls who 'know better'.
Alternatively, even those who know differently may feel that a Catholic girl striving to be innocent is a desirablevirgin, who is a greater challenge to seduce, and thus a "greater prize" if she caves under pressure. Or else there's the notion (sometimes Truth in Television but more often wishful thinking, given the fetish-fantasy nature of the trope) that a seemingly chaste schoolgirl may only be going through the motions of chastity and religiosity for the benefit of parents and teachers, similarly to another trope somewhere around here, and is just itching for a chance to reveal her less-than-religious side the moment no one's looking. All that repression leading to a simmering cauldron of typical teenage hormones just looking for a chance to boil over in a plethora of exciting ways in an attempt to rebel.
And of course for some there's good old nostalgia, as plenty of Catholic school alumni can fondly remember their own hormonal teenage years. Alternately, those who actually attended a Catholic school may be much less prone to this trope: seeing a uniform (especially one involving skirts and dress shirts) on both attractive and unattractive girls, possibly even one's own family members, for years on end tends to make one lose interest in the uniform rather quickly.
Regardless of the (admittedly squicky) reasoning behind it, the trope has led to the fetishization of the standard "school girl uniform", Catholic or otherwise, frequently modified to Stripperiffic specifications. This outfit usually consists of a button-up shirt, sometimes worn with a tie (in more exploitative media, the shirt is worn without a bra, and knotted so high up that the girl in question is simultaneously baring her midriff completely and showing off a lot of cleavage); usually a blazer or jacket of some kind, frequently a couple of sizes too small; a short, pleated skirt that may or may not be in some kind of plaid; knee-high socks or stockings; and often pigtails. Expect panty shots to be a frequent occurrence (if she's wearing any). Needless to say, any girl who actually shows up to class like this would be thrown in detention faster than you can say "Jailbait." The uniform will sometimes be depicted as being worn even outside of school.
When this outfit shows up in films and TV shows, it's almost always done through Dawson Casting. Likewise, when it's done by fully-grown women, it's almost always a case of Fanservice in action.
In Britain, where the trope is not associated with Roman Catholicism to the same extent (due to uniforms being much more common in both public and state schools), this look is known as the "St. Trinian's Girl", after a series of Boarding School movies by that name. Related, but not identical, to the sailor-suited Japanese schoolgirl fetish, Joshikousei. This is slowly becoming a Discredited Trope now.
Slowly becoming part of the "once common but no longer generally required" subtrope of Hollywood Dress Code, since many real Catholic schools have changed their uniforms to unisex khakis and polo shirts, especially as more schools realize that what looks pure and innocent on a 9 year old takes on a different context (whether intentional or not is irrelevant) when worn by a 17 year old after the "summer growth spurt."
Compare and contrast the Preacher's Kid.
A subtrope of Adults Dressed as Children.
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Hayden Panettiere shot a photo spread for Candie's. First she dressed as a cheerleader, then a Roman Catholic schoolgirl◊. All she needs to do now is play a hooker and she'll have the trifecta.
A promo for the appropriately named programming block Lollipop from Animax which showcases girls in both sailor-collared and catholic girl uniforms.
The Kentucky Fried Movie: This is the entire point of the Show Within a Show parody sexploitation film Catholic High School Girls in Trouble. The clothing doesn't actually make an appearance. Because there is very little clothing involved.
D.E.B.S.: The entire point of the movie (well that and Girl on Girl Is Hot), a tiny-budget film that follows this trope. A blurb for the film: "Plaid-skirted schoolgirls are groomed by a secret government agency to join an elite cadre of spies."
Cruel Intentions: Both Sarah Michelle Gellar and Reese Witherspoon do the Catholic Schoolgirl thing.
Scary Movie 3: Has Pamela Anderson and Jenny Mc Carthy in schoolgirl outfits.
Kill Bill : Chiaki Kurayama as Gogo Yubari really was the perfect naughty Asian schoolgirl. It's a shame she had to get stabbed in the brain with two nails.
The St. Trinian's series is set in British Boarding Schools for young ladies. While all the younger students are crazy-evil the sixth formers (aged 16-18 (legal age in the UK being 16)) all wear their uniforms as small as possible.
Harry Potter: in the increasingly rare moments when the girls in are actually in their uniforms.
Referenced in A Life Apart: Hasidism in America when one Hasidic woman says that the Hasidic school uniform skirts extend at least four inches below the knee and claims that the longest Catholic school skirts are five inches above the knee. She's obviously ill-informed.
Diane, in Trainspotting. Subverted in the fact that Renton has no idea she's underage when she picks him up (out of uniform, natch) at a club.
Mallrats: Tricia Jones, the 15-year-old sex researcher, dons a schoolgirl uniform.
Dogma: Salma Hayek as Serendipity is wearing a schoolgirl uniform and working as a stripper when the protagonists first meet her.
Bedazzled (2000) (2000) Elizabeth Hurley's Devil wears a schoolgirl outfit, as one of a whole series of Fanservice-type costumes.
5ive Girls : This SyFy original movie revolves around "sinners" who are sent to a Catholic reform school and are forced to wear naughty schoolgirl outfits. The events of the movie turn two of them into lesbians for somereason. Bizarrely, this may even be justified, since everyone involved is either part of a conspiracy with a demon or being manipulated by someone who is, and the girls are being groomed for sacrifice.
Referenced in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, when Scott admits with a certain scandalized pride that Knives is an actual Catholic schoolgirl, with the uniform and everything.
"Catholic school was great! I mean, the teachers kind of sucked, and they were supposedly way more strict, but you could get away with murder."
In the opening of Transporter 2, Frank is unsuccessfully carjacked by a Zettai Ryouiki girl in a pleated tartan skirt. After wiping the floor with her carjacking gang, he suggests she's got some homework to do. She runs off.
Wild Things gives Denise Richard's character a non-plaid variant for the threesome scene. It's not there for long.
The posters for Jennifers Body featured Megan Fox in Catholic schoolgirl outfit, although she doesn't wear that costume anywhere in the film.
The teen girl protagonist of the Mexican film Amar Te Duele, is shown to be attending an exclusive all-girls Catholic school, as expected, in other scenes, her classmates are shown drinking heavily and doing drugs.
The Craft: The girls all attend a Catholic School, and their uniform seems to be worn quite conservatively for the most part, but when Bonnie's scars are healed, she drops the tights (in favour of a Grade C Zettai Ryouiki), tie and blazer to invoke this on purpose.
A bus from a Catholic School for girls crashed, killing all on-board. They gathered up at the pearly gates and Saint Peter came out with a bowl of holy water. He asked the first girl if she had ever acted inappropriately with a boy, and the girl said she had kissed one once. St. Peter said she merely had to dip her lips in the water and she would be free to enter. The next girl had touched a boy once. St. Peter said she merely had to dip her hand in the water and she would be free to enter. Suddenly there was a ruckus at the back of the line as a girl pushed her way forward. Saint Peter said "There is no hurry, everyone will get a turn." The girl responded "I just want to gargle before Cathy has to put her butt in it."
In Simon R. Green's Hex and the City, a Nightside novel, John Taylor sees the succubus Pretty Poison dressed in a girl's school uniform. As succubi appear differently to each individual, as fits their personal sexual fantasies, John Lampshades this trope by musing that he must've seen too many St. Trinian's films as an adolescent.
In the Kate Daniels novel Magic Strikes, Kate asks Raphael if he has a costume kink: nurse, French Maid Costume, et cetera. He responds instantly with "Catholic schoolgirl". He then starts imagining his crush wearing a Catholic school uniform and tunes out of the conversation with Kate.
In Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis, one of the main characters, Pete Riley, remarks that Catholic school girls give the best handjobs; he's changed his mind about a lot of things, but that's not one of them.
In Wicked Lovely, Aislinn and co go to a Catholic school. It isn't gone into much, given that the series tends to be pretty cynical/dark/serious in tone, but Leslie definitely fits this stereotype. At least until she was raped. The guys who harass Aislinn in the first book also comment on this, pulling on her skirt, etc.
Alias: Jennifer Garner dressed as a Catholic schoolgirl.
The Big Bang Theory: In the episode "The Anythng Can Happen Recurrence" it's mentioned that Bernadette sometimes dresses up as a Catholic schoolgirl for sex with Howard. In the end of the episode, Amy tries to make up with Sheldon for lying to him by dressing as one herself - unsuccessfully.
Mischa Barton did it in The O.C.. Not surprisingly, it was Sweeps Week.
On The Office (US), Michael comments on the hot picture of a Catholic schoolgirl hanging near Stanley's desk.
Stanley: "That's my daughter. She goes to private school and I'm taking the picture down right now."
Grange Hill: Mostly averted. The students (except for the sixth form, 17 & 18 y/o) all wear school uniforms, but as they're played by actual school-aged children, they dress appropriately in actual school uniforms. A few of the 15 and 16 y/o girls do seem to get away with wearing high-heeled Mary-Janes, but that's the extent of it.
The school teaching staff, however, held a sponsored "teachers dress in your old uniform" day to raise a little extra money for essential equipment. Two of the three female teachers wore their old school uniforms, of which one actually looked too little girl and cutesy to count for this trope, but the second was practically was a textbook definition of the trope. (The third female teacher came in her old-fashioned "cap and gown" teaching attire from when she started in an old Grammar School.)
Darla, a vampire who's at least four hundred years old, dresses as a Catholic schoolgirl because she is taunting Angel for being in love with teenage Buffy, despite the fact that Sunnydale High doesn't require uniforms. Darla's also wearing that outfit to get boys. As in 'to get dinner'. Check out the opening sequence of the pilot episode, when she's wearing that same outfit to lure a leather-jacket-clad tough guy into a place where she can bite him. It's a great take on the usual Death by Sex scene in slasher films. If you don't know Darla's a vamp, it's got a huge HSQ.
21 year-old Buffy dresses in a plaid skirt while dressing younger in order to seduce 17 year-old jock RJ in "Him".
Similarly, in its spin-off series Angel, Lilah dresses as a schoolgirl to jointly seduce Wesley and mock him for being in love with the bookish geek girl, Fred. She succeeds in seducing Wesley, but when he tells her to leave the glasses on, the expression her face suggests he may as well have said Fred's name during the height of passion, it stung that much.
In the season 8 comics, one of the slayers wears one to lure a vampire to get information from him.
Doctor Who had Time Lady companion Romana wearing a very St. Trinian's style uniform in the "City of Death" serial. Lalla Ward, judging by interviews and the production notes, came up with the idea and had no concept it was a fetish.
Kate states that she spent twelve years at Catholic school. Tony asks her if she still has the pleated skirt. She's also wearing it when Dinozzo imagines her, post-death.note If you want to get technical, she's wearing the outfit of Gogo When Dinozzo's imagination has an imaginary wind blow the imaginary skirt up around her imaginary waist showing her imaginary, and very skimpy, panties, imaginary-Kate is not amused!
Abby has also been known to dress up like that.
Gossip Girl: most of the girls have a very...unique...take on the Constance Billiard uniform. One reviewer commented that the St Jude's boys must feel like they're on the set of a porno every single day.
Subverted by Molly Shannon's "Mary Katherine Gallagher" character. Mary Katherine is a Catholic schoolgirl, all right, and wears the standard uniform, but though she may at times imagine herself to be hot, the other characters (and the viewers) certainly don't.
Although Hogwarts, of the Harry Potter franchise, is obviously not a Catholic school, one memorable SNL sketch spoofing the Potter series featured guest host Lindsay Lohan as Hermione and played up the uniform fetish aspect.
Alexei Sayle, in his show 'Stuff' once said that his Jewish secondary school was next door to a catholic girl's school 'Or, as we called it, the Virgin Megastore'
Kids in the Hall once had a sketch where a diner was next door to a Catholic high school, and the two guys working there were always ogling the girls who came in, that is, until one of them, played by a pre-fame Neve Campbell, is arrested for killing her teacher...for ogling her.
The Athenian Academy uniforms in Caprica. Technically, they're not Catholic but Greek polytheists but in virtually every other way it applies. Plus, at least two of the girls were monotheistic, though not Christian, much less Catholic.
On As Time Goes By, Sandy goes to a policeman's ball where the women dress as St. Trinian's girls and the men as policemen. Jean and Lionel find this squicky until they see that that Sandy has decided to dress as a fourth former, and the policemen are dressing as Keystone Kops.
Glee is set in a public school, but Rachel Berry tends to favor this kind of attire. And is routinely mocked for it.
Defied in Degrassi. First Clare wore something approaching your standard schoolgirl uniform. But it was played as childish, not sexy. Fiona's time in a New York prep school included her attempt to redesign them to be this, but we never got to the end point on that. When Degrassi itself experimented with using school uniforms they were designed to be as unflattering as possible. This Truth in Television; as is the fact that the girls seem to have wasted no time figuring out how to shorten the skirts without permanently doing so.
In Grounded For Life, Lily has to go pick up uniforms as part of her school's switch to a uniform dress code. As Lily tries on a uniform and shows it to her dad and his brother, she laments "Who's gonna find me attractive in this?" Sean and Eddie look at each other as if they're both thinking "Don't say it. Let it drop!"
In The X-Files episode 'Signs and Wonders', Mulder and Scully go to a church that practices snake handling and the following conversation takes place...
Scully: Snake handling... didn't learn that in Catechism class.
While not Catholic, the school uniform in Deep Love is very similar to this and one of johns in the first episode was very adamant when he said Reina and Ayu had to be in their school uniform.
Played for laughs between Danny Reagan and his partner in Blue Bloods:
Jackie: I used to wear one of those. Christian Leadership Award four years running. Danny: What happened? Jackie: I discovered boys. Then I was hiking up that short skirt... Danny: Great, now I have to think about you in that uniform all day.
In one episode of Boy Meets World, Shawn gets excited when he finds on the subway a group of Catholic schoolgirls who "ditched their nun" (and yes, they were wearing the uniform).
The Sweeney. DS Carter makes some lurid comments about the attractiveness of girls in school uniforms in "Taste of Fear". On another occasion Jack Regan is meeting an informant in the park when a couple of schoolgirls walk by and one of them bends over to pick something up. Seeing how Regan is Distracted by the Sexy the informant quips: "I could be arrested for doing what you're thinking!"
Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" is a partial subversion, in that Roman Catholicism could be seen as a stumbling block to the singer getting the goods. But only partially, because that stumbling block only makes the girl more attractive to the singer.
Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler first appear in Roman Catholic schoolgirl uniforms in the video for Aerosmith's "Crazy". Later in the video, they appear in less. Aerosmith is led by Liv Tyler's father, Steven Tyler.
Every female human being under the age of 22 is dressed in a Roman Catholic schoolgirl uniform at the beginning of the video for Britney Spears' "Baby, One More Time...". Not so coincidentally, every female human being of any age had an automatic Halloween costume that year. Thanks, Britney!
The otherwise bewildering and impenetrable video to the Blue Oyster Cult single "Joan Crawford Has Risen from the Grave", which features a lot of Catholic Schoolgirls in various stages of demurity, semi-dress, and vampirism, pursued by a seedy pervert with a stunning resemblance to keyboards man Allen Lanier.
The BOC also use this trope in the album track "Unknown Tongue", in which a devout Catholic Schoolgirl pursues the mysteries of the Stigmata.
The Cocky Sticks' minor club hit "I'm a Catholic Girl, Of Course I Swallow."
Stacy Kiebler showed up on the runway wearing a Roman Catholic schoolgirl uniform. Her appearance was the height of hotness. The reactions from the middle-age-or-older men around the runway were the height of terrifying.
WWE has put on several "schoolgirl" matches, which give their female wrestlers an excuse to dress like this and beat each other with school-themed weapons like yardsticks to the delight of the audience.