Yao: Bet the local girls thought you were quite the charmerA character is acknowledged by other characters as being more attractive because they're dressed in some type of uniform. There's something about a person in uniform. It's not just due to Hollywood's inability to cast unattractive people; something about the cut, colors and symbolism of military drag can bump a person up a couple of points on the hotness meter. For one thing, uniforms are designed to look… well… uniform, so that troops look good en masse. Dress uniforms are deliberately tailored to create a neat-but-athletic look; tactically practical battle uniforms are less pretty, but have their own appeal… yes, even on females. It's the martial equivalent of She Cleans Up Nicely. Compare Fair Cop, Hot Men At Work, Hello, Sailor!, and Firemen Are Hot. While traditionally a result of a Female Gaze, that's rapidly changing. Doesn't have to do with OTHER kinds of "privates", although they may well possess them… Note that this is an in-universe trope, not about soldiers that you personally find hot.
Ling: And I'll bet the ladies love a man in armor
Ling: And I'll bet the ladies love a man in armor
—Mulan, "A Girl Worth Fighting For"
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Anime & Manga
- Conversed in Baccano!! 1931 - Another Junk Railroad. When Claire goes to Rachel for advice on what to get for Chane, she suggests clothes. Upon hearing this Claire immediately jumps to the conclusion that he should get her military uniform, the suggestion being that he believes anyone automatically looks sexier in a military uniform. Rachel manages to talk him down into getting her a normal dress, but not out of sewing knife-holsters into it.
- In Mafalda, Susanita gets excited about Manolito's brother returning from military service... until he tells his brother wasn't a cadet, but a recruit, something which disgusts her.
- In Albedo: Erma Felna EDF, Erma, furry Cat Girl officer, looks great in both her regular duty and flight gear, but put her in her dress uniform, a tight backless single piece of material with slippers and a cape to frame it, and she becomes a knockout who can stun any male.
- Child of the Storm has a few, Steve Rogers being the most prominent. There are others, such as:
- In Shell Shock, the sergeant is implied to be quite attractive, especially because he looks good in uniform.
- Similarly, in Relax, the protagonist is implied to look quiet good both in and out of uniform.
- The Barretts of Wimpole Street: Henrietta' suitor, Capt. Cook, is so handsome in his dress uniform that she insists he come in the house so her sister Elizabeth can see him in all his Bling of War. This leads to an ugly confrontation when Edward, their severely uptight, controlling father, returns unexpectedly and catches the three of them in Elizabeth's room.
- In Eyes Wide Shut Nicole Kidman makes her husband Tom Cruise jealous when she reveals that she has fantasies about a Naval officer in dress whites she met when their family was on vacation.
- Taking Chance: Discussed by a girl in the seat next to Lt. Colonel Strobl, texting about the "HOT Soldier" sitting next to her.note
- Ted: Lori and John discuss the night they met, with cutscenes showing their very different recollections of the event. Lori remembers John practically knocking her out with his spastic dance moves, while John's version contains choreographed dances, suave one-liners...and he's wearing Navy dress whites for some reason.
- An old joke states that the reason women are attracted to a man in uniform is very simple: It means he has a job. It doesn't matter what uniform it is, they don't really care. A variation specifically for military uniforms exists: It means he has a job and will follow orders.
- Hostile Takeover (Shwartz) has Commander Marc Davidoff, Space Marine and Ace Pilot. Though he's heir to one of the largest oligarchies in the galaxy, and as athletic as you would expect from a man of his job description, CC notes he's not really as handsome as her social-climber fiance. It's Davidoff's blunt manner, spiffy uniform and dedication to duty that make him so attractive.
- Pride and Prejudice: Some major sub-plots are driven by the arrival of the ___shire militia to Netherfield. Mainly, Kitty and Lydia go bananas trying to flirt with all the officers, and completely lose interest in any man not wearing a red coat.
- Wraith Squadron and later novels: The first impression that most people have of the Wraiths' Kell Tainer is that he'd look good on a recruitment poster.
- It isn't properly a military uniform, but one book in the Heralds of Valdemar series contains several paragraphs of discussion as to how everyone looks better in the white Heralds' uniforms.
- In George MacDonald Fraser's McAuslan stories, his Author Avatar Lieutenant Dand McNeill reflects on the power of the Scottish military uniform to attract women. He notes that not even American Air Force pilots or the U.S. Marines can compete with a man wearing kilt, sporran, and a ritual dagger down his sock-top.
- Invoked in Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, where the soldiers sent out to greet the citizens of Putnam's Landing in civilian clothes realize that they need to wear their uniforms to make any sort of impression on the girls of the town.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, Aral Vorkosigan is attracted primarily to military trappings while being flexible on the subject of gender. His home planet of Barrayar considers the military a men-only profession, though, and also strongly discourages homosexuality, meaning aside from a political marriage his major relationships had to be conducted in secret. (Though they were something of an open secret among the high Vor.) His second wife Cordelia came from another planet where the military was open to all sexes, and so became a best-of-both-worlds opportunity for him to, ahem, have his cake and eat it, too.
- In G. K. Chesterton's poem Lucasta Responds to Lovelace, a parody of/reply to Richard Lovelace's To Lucasta, Going to the Wars, Lucrasta says she finds Lovelace the soldier in his red uniform with gold lace, far more attractive than Lovelace the poet, mostly to lead to the punchline:
Yet this inconstancy forgive,Though gold lace I adore.I would not love the lace so much,Loved I not Lovelace more.
- In Warchild Series Jos mentions that Jets in uniform have an extra allure about them. Being asexual, he's immune.
- Ciaphas Cain mentions this as a routine problem he has to deal with as regimental commissar, apparently there's just something irresistible about the contents of a Guard uniform... and it looks even better on the bedroom floor.
Live Action TV
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Agents of the Initiative are quite handsome. Riley's Black Best Friend laments that they can't tell girls that they're demon slayers so they have to rely on their looks to get the girls.
- In "The One With The Chicken Pox" episode of Friends, a shore leave visit by Phoebe's submariner old flame gets the group discussing the appeal of a uniform. Inspired, Ross later treats Rachel by getting hold of some Navy whites and attempting the "An Officer and a Gentleman" carry out.
- Discussed later when she asks him if he still had the Navy uniform, he says no, but might have an old band uniform from high school. Rachel says to remember all the sex he didn't have in high school.
- Doctor Who:
- Rory Williams is Adorkable in civvies (or his nurse's scrubs), but totally badass in any uniform, be it museum security guard, modern combat fatigues or particularly his signature Roman centurion outfit. In "A Christmas Carol", he's dressed as the last one for his honeymoon, so clearly Amy loves it too.
- "Invasion of the hot Italians": For the record, Amy was dressed in her kiss-o-gram constable outfit. Obviously, Rory likes that too.
- In "The Curse of Fenric", Jean and Phyllis make comments along the lines of "I love men in uniform" to the soldiers they meet on the path to the beach. In the novelisation, the girls' lines stay the same, but are delivered mockingly because the soldiers are elderly Home Guard members.
- Acknowledged by General O'Neill of all people in Stargate Atlantis, upon learning that the incoming rescue mission is less than officially sanctioned.
O'Neill: So, am I to assume you are not surrounded by heavily-armed SG teams and young, strapping marines?
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Nemesis", a girl from the village says that the Defenders, which Chakotay has joined, "glimpse great" in their jungle combat gear. They're actually the villains of the story.
- Horatio Hornblower: When Horatio is promoted to Lieutenant and gets his new Navy uniform, he's praised by his tailor (obviously) that it's a great improvement, compared to his Midshipman look. Men aboard the Indefatigable tease him and Archie jokes that there is a complete stranger among them.
- Murdoch Mysteries: Not much is said about constables' normal uniforms, but when they play baseball, all the constables look great in their shirts. Drs. Emily Grace and Julia Ogden are especially impressed with Constable George Crabtree and comment that he looks dashing.
- Meredith Viera of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? totally loses her cool over a handsome sailor contestant. In her defense... golly, the guy looks gorgeous. See for yourself.
- In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), this is a Discussed Trope among the rather handsome Navy soldiers who are going on their weekend pass.
- Timecop: In "Rocket Science", when Jack Logan returns from his latest mission in a military uniform, one of his colleagues notes how attractive he looks. Purely tongue in cheek, since he was forced to wear a Wehrmacht uniform.
- Deconstructed in the fourth season of Blackadder. Discussing the soldiers' propaganda magazine, Blackadder describes it as a work of fiction since it does nothing to show how the soldiers actually are, and is better used as toilet paper.
Blackadder: I mean, the stuff's about as convincing as Doctor Crippin's defense lawyer. The British Tommies are all portrayed as six foot six, with biceps the size of Bournemouth!
- There is a Croatian song "All sisters want to kiss sailors."
- A once-popular English music-hall song "All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor".
- Double Subverted in Patience. None of the female cast are remotely interested in the Dragoons, instead swooning after the poets Bunthorne and Grosvenor, because aestheticism is all the rage. The soldiers wonder why their uniforms are no longer effective at conquering women, and they only start winning the ladies back when they start to dress and act like aesthetic poets. When Grosvenor gives up the aesthetic game, the women who were chasing after him have a sudden change in taste and go back to the soldiers to whom they were originally engaged.
- Quite a few web forums out there - there are least two military discussion forums that have dedicated threads on the subject (with only full-clothed pictures generally allowed) and one dedicated blog.
- Keisha Stevenson in The Salvation War is attractive enough an angel describes her as "comely", and note is often made of her enormous breasts.
- Played for laughs in a The Nostalgia Critic review, as a skit has him, Malcolm and Tamara playing soldiers who are more interested in looking good than anything else.
- Discussed in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, where Alex suggests to Marcus that they became pilots to impress girls, and Marcus replies that the only girls they know are also pilots.
- According to the Mickey Mouse (2013) cartoons, this is why Donald wears a sailor uniform (well, the top part at least). He's not actually a sailor; he just wears it for Daisy.
- Very much Truth in Television, to the point where much of men's fashion has its roots in military dress.
- One of the reasons why Putting on the Reich is so popular.
- There is a Polish saying, roughly translated: "all girls want uniform-wearing boys". No known female version probably due to the fact that war used to be a man's job.
- During Operation Desert Storm, the Today show featured a live interview with a U.S. Air Force Colonel (i.e. someone roughly Katie Couric's age at the time). When they sent it back to Katie and Bryant, Katie said, "Can you put the Colonel back on? Hubba hubba!"
- During Gulf War Cher came back from entertaining the troops to announce that America had the cutest armed forces in the world, including the girls!
- Serves as Fetish Fuel for a lot of tourists in Israel, as soldiers in uniform are to be seen practically anywhere, both male and female.