Kicking Ass in All Her Finery
"Kim, deciding to be badass, tosses her hat into the air, and proceeds to unrealistically fly around with a series of kicks and punches despite,
again, wearing the big, flowing dress."
Who says that being an ass-whupping Action Girl
means you can't wear feminine, pretty, opulent clothes? In some works, the two can go hand-in-awesome-but-elegant-hand.
There's no Action Dress Ripping
either. These are Impossibly Cool Clothes
, that don't get in the way
while this lady is mowing down hordes
or blowing stuff up
. Conversely she is such a good fighter
that she is both aware of and able to overcome the disadvantages of her clothing. Not that there can't be Clothing Damage
, but expect the clothes to be fine by the next episode
(barring getting a new outfit next season
What weapons she uses can vary, from martial arts (even if a skirt would be too narrow or poofy to kick someone), to conventional weapons, to the more domestic weapons like Parasol of Pain
, Rolling Pin of Doom
, and Frying Pan of Doom
. Although with those latter three, she has to be directly attacking with them, not just conking a guy on the head.
The clothes could range from a Simple Yet Opulent
evening dress and jewelry
, to an ultra frilly Pimped-Out Dress
. It can even count if the dress is cut to move around, like a Mini Dress Of Power
, but it also has to be otherwise too fancy to fight in. May be the result of the villain trying to ambush the heroine at some sort of formal event that she was going to.
, Rule of Cool
, Rule of Glamorous
, Costume Porn
This trope often overlaps with:
Compare Badass in a Nice Suit
, Stylish Protection Gear
, Bling of War
, Agent Peacock
(the Spear Counterpart
), Beauty Is Never Tarnished
, Real Women Don't Wear Dresses
Examples need to describe the outfit(s) for context (providing pictures would also help).
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Anime & Manga
- Elizabeth Middleford of Black Butler is in very nice, prim and proper underwear when she mows down zombies with dual swords.
- Similarly, her mother, Francis Middleford of Black Butler is in a full, floor-length Victorian dress as she protects the passengers of the Campania alongside her husband and son and goes Back-to-Back Badasses with Sebastian.
- Shenhua from Black Lagoon is a deadly assassin who's very talented with kukris and kunai. The difference between her and every other woman in the show is that she kicks ass while wearing an elegant red qipao.
- Dominion Tank Police has a scene where the Puma Twins engage the Red Commandos in a shoot out, in an upscale museum, while decked out in fancy dresses. Annapuma's AK-47 was hidden in her parasol, while Unapuma had a tommygun tucked under her skirt!
- Shiki from Kara no Kyoukai usually fights wearing a simple kimono and a red jacket for warmth. However, in part five, she instead goes for a borderline Pimped Out Kimono during the climatic battle (not to mention that she also brings a katana to it instead of her usual knife).
- The eponymous heroine of Madlax is shown wearing simple but elegant and very slick cocktail dresses more than once while kicking ass. (And once she takes her dress off to distract her pursuers).
- The eponymous heroine of Murder Princess wears a voluminous white gown. This is really an interesting case, as she became a princess through a "Freaky Friday" Flip, and wasn't this before the flip.
- Most of the dolls in Rozen Maiden fit this, due to their ultra frilly dresses being still worn in intense battles.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist (manga only), when Alphonse is abducted by Greed and his chimera, Al's beloved alchemy master Izumi calmly strolls into the sewers and beats the crap out of anyone who gets in her way. Her chosen attire for the occasion is a slinky black cocktail dress.
- Wedding Peach for being a Magical Girl show about girls in wedding dresses has some moments where they fight in their full wedding dresses. This is deconstructed because there were the early episodes before Momoko learns the magic phrase that turns her pimped out wedding dress into a Minidress of Power. The unrealistic aspects of this trope is why she learned how to do this.
- In the One Piece tenth film Strong World, both Nami and Robin dress up as part of invading/infiltrating Shiki's base, as seen here◊ along with the men.
- Nami also does this during the Alabasta War, where she fights against Miss Doublefinger in a dancer's gown that doesn't leave much to the imagination. Vivi, as well, wears one, but she mostly keeps it concealed under a purple burka and fights while in said attire.
- Fujiko Mine from Lupin III has spent many a gun battle fighting in an evening dress.
- In Sailor Moon, unleashing her full power will require Usagi to transform into Princess Serenity, whose costume is a long (on a girl who doesn't even break five feet) white party dress.
- Deconstructed with Berserk's Farnese. She at one point tries to fight apostles while wearing a ballgown, and discovers it puts her at a disadvantage by constricting her movement.
- In chapter 3 of Chrono Crusade Sister Rose wears a slinky, sleeveless, off-one-shoulder dress and a pair of long opera gloves in order to sneak into a casino for a mission. (She even remarks that she never gets to wear clothes like that (she is a nun, after all).) Of course, she and Chrono end up fighting a monster. The only damage her outfit takes during the fight is self-inflicted- she tears a hip-high slit into her dress, presumably to make her thigh holster easier to reach and make moving around a little easier (and, maybe, a little fan-service in the form of stockings and garters).
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid has Olivie Sägebrecht, who in Chapter 52, snapped an airborne crossbow bolt in half with a somersault kick and killed the hidden assassin with a well-aimed rock, showing that being an armless little girl in a formal princess dress didn't stop her from being a deadly fighter.
- In Soul Eater, Maka is able to don a black evening gown through resonance with Soul. The dress is actually practical for battle, as it's formed of Black Blood, which hardens like steel armor when Maka is attacked.
- Princess Kougyoku of Magi – Labyrinth of Magic is probably the best dressed female fighter in the series, usually seen in her Pimped-Out Dress (such as when she beat down Ugo without her full djin equip) and noted to be particularly powerful◊. She lists fashion as her hobby and swordfighting as her specialty, after all.
- Wonder Woman was created partly to embody this. As Diana Prince, she had a lot of occasions to go out to dinner parties thrown by military brass in elegant evening gowns, jewelry, etc. She'd always have elbow-length gloves to cover up her bracelets. Sometime during the night it was guaranteed she would have to do some kind of ass kicking while still in her flossy attire. As Wonder Woman her original outfit included knee-length pleated culottes, which looked like a skirt most of the time unless she was doing something extremely active.
- Jean Grey can easily do battle in fancy dresses thanks to her Mind over Matter powers (although she will do an Action Dress Rip when more physical action is called for).
- Yoko Tsuno once pointed out a rifle at two guys after one of them freaks out and almost gets her best friend/prospect boyfriend Vic shot to death while wearing a very fancy pink kimono. And she managed to get them to back down.
Film - Animation
- Mulan dresses like a courtesan (along with three of her fellow soldiers) to infiltrate the invaded palace and together they curbstomp the villain's lieutenants.
- Shrek - Princess Fiona takes out Robin Hood and a squad of merry men single-handedly while wearing her signature green princess dress. She's quite put out when a single lock of hair is out of place after the dust settles.
- Anastasia, at the climax of the film, Anastasia defeats the Big Bad wearing a fine ballroom dress.
- In Epic Queen Tara runs through the forest in a leaf dress while commanding the forest to smack her pursuers around.
- In Frozen Queen Elsa fights and defeats the Duke of Weselton's bodyguards while wearing her conjured gown of ice.
Film - Live Action
- In the 1940 film My Little Chickadee , Mae West's gorgeous, fancily-dressed character, Flower Belle, is on a train when Indians attack. An arrow lands two feet from her, and she nonchalantly pulls it out of the wall, goes back to filing her nails... and when a second arrow hits, she responds by mowing them down with revolvers akimbo taken from a passenger who wasn't so lucky and a shotgun borrowed from the only other person defending the train... all while uttering one-liners in her signature alluring, devil-may-care voice.
- Princess Vespa spends the entire Spaceballs movie wearing a Fairytale Wedding Dress. She's handed a gun to fight with, and refuses until a laser blast singes the side of her hair. Then she mows down the bad guys.
- Star Wars: Padme Amidala doesn't fight in her Impractically Fancy Outfits, but her "battle gear" is still very fine-looking and stylish.
- And her decoy fights in a fancy royal outfit-and uses it to fool the Viceroy at a vital moment.
- Her daughter Leia continues the tradition by spending the entire first movie in a simple but elegant white dress. Even when she was shooting stormtroopers and leading a prison escape.
- Pam Bouvier wear a slinky, rhinestone blue dress - but enough to have a nice little pistol in her garter, in License To Kill.
- Pirates of the Caribbean zig-zags this with Elizabeth. In the first movie, she stabs Barbossa and smacks one of his cursed pirates with the ship's wheel while she's still in the red dress they've forced her to wear, then puts on a spare Navy uniform for her next fight scene. The second movie sees her in her wedding dress holding Cutler Beckett at gunpoint, but again she spends most of the movie in men's clothing. The third movie plays it straight; she spends most of it in practical, gorgeous, and very femme Chinese pirate gear.
- The Green Rider series deconstructs this to double subvert it. After a Gentleman Thief escapes her because she couldn't fight while in a dress and corset (and renders her a laughingstock as a result), Karigan makes her swordmaster teach her how to fight in finery.
- Kvothe in "Wise Man's Fear" likes cloaks so much, he learns how to fight in one. (Without spilling anything from all of his little pockets)
- At one point in Mercedes Lackey's Jinx High, Diana Tregarde takes on a much larger jock, who happens to be high on PCP, while wearing a silk formal dress. As the dress was specifically designed with a full enough skirt to allow karate kicks, and she was combining the karate with her Psychic Powers, the dress survived undamaged.
- Also from Mercedes Lackey—Talia Sensdotter's formal uniform—including her hairdo—is designed so that she could fight to protect the Queen and Crown Princess if she had to and still perfectly proper afterwards. (Skirt ankle-length rather than floor-length and no train, hidden slit in side-seam providing access to long dagger strapped to thigh, throwing-knives concealed in cuffs, etc.)
- Played with in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy. Heroine Vin's magical powers make her strong and mobile enough that she can fight in a fancy ballgown- if she's not averse to destroying it in the process, of course. In the second book, though, she visits a dressmaker who is accustomed to having female mistborn as customers and knows how to modify his wares to make them somewhat more practical to fight in without sacrificing elegence.
- Played with in A Song of Ice and Fire. Brienne of Tarth, who's usually accustomed to fighting in full armour, is forced into a dress as a form of humiliation and dis-empowerment, and then thrown into a bear pit by the band of mercenaries who are holding her hostage. She's able to fend off the bear until rescue arrives, but had things played out differently she would definitely have died because a dress is not armour and she was fighting a damn bear.
- The Exile's Violin: Defied. When Jacquie goes undercover as a socialite she picks a dress that is simple and has a knee-length skirt so this trope wouldn't be an issue.
- Cleverly averted in The Wheel of Time, the Seanchan Empress has a wardrobe of magnificent, extravagant dresses to put any wedding gown to shame... and under them she wears black combat pants and a tunic.
- Played straight with just about every Aes Sedai, though.
- Queen Cinder plays it straight in Chronicles Of Magic, shooting and hacking at her enemies with a sword while clad in an elaborate black gown. Averted when the gown (realistically) ends up slowing her down.
Live Action TV
- In the season 1 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy goes to fight The Master in her prom dress. Almost everyone (including the Master) likes it.
- Subverted in the Halloween Episode where Buffy's princess gown turns her into a Distressed Damsel. Although technically played straight at the end when the spell wears off.
- In The Vampire Diaries, Katherine is always dressed to kill... and the body count is most impressive. In Season Two, she attends a costume ball in a very slinky evening dress, complete with high heels, elaborately coiffed hair, and a lovely jeweled mask. Over the course of the evening she faced down witches, bodily dragged a fledgling vampire around, fought two more vampires to a standstill, and ripped out some poor girl's spine right in the middle of the dance floor. All without so much as tearing her dress or smudging her makeup.
- In Power Rangers RPM Summer ends up kicking ass in her wedding dress after Tenaya 7 and an army of Grinders attack her wedding. Unusually for this trope, Tenaya 7 stands on her skirt to try and stop her but Summer resorts to using the veil as a weapon too. She also did it again in the same episode in a flashback sequence - Venjix attack bots ambush her while she's still in her party dress.
- In the season two opener of Arrow Laurel Lance disarms a a bad guy and throws him down the stairs - all while wearing a gorgeous full length pink dress.
- While usually preferring practical-if-geeky clothes on the set of Mythbusters, Kari demonstrates◊ that she is quite capable of this to good effect.
- In an episode of Castle, Beckett is on a date in a fancy restaurant and wearing a stunning red dress when she gets interrupted to go make a bust. Outside the scene, she then hilariously pulls her gun from her purse (which is so small that it couldn't have held much else) and asks Castle to hold it for her while she goes inside to kick ass.
- Basically in every single episode of Agent Carter Peggy is kicking ass left and right in the finest 40's fashion, with the only notable aversion being the episode "The Iron Ceiling" when she dons combat gear for a mission to Russia.
- In Tricia Brock's "Good to Be a Girl", the singer was "fighting off the bad guys in heels and a dress."
- Before she became Molly Holly in the WWF, she was Miss Madness in WCW and regularly accompanied Randy Savage to the ring wearing an evening gown, heels, tiara and sash, but never let that from getting in the way of interfering in matches. She also did this as Lady Ophelia, her character in Memphis Championship Wrestling though the dress at least had a slit to help her fighting.
- Any woman who ever competed in an Evening Gown Match. These matches are technically subversions - as the goal is to strip the opposing woman out of her gown to win.
- WWE does have one or two instances of this trope being played straight - a battle royal where the Divas had to compete in evening gowns. Surprisingly enough some like Gail Kim and Kelly Kelly were able to pull off their normal moves just fine.
- Wrestlicious has Charlotte, a literal Southern Belle. Her costume consists of parasol, frilly sleeves, pantaloons and one of the poofiest skirts in existence. Yes she wrestles in it.
- While many female characters in Exalted can dress up and kick ass in an undeniably stylish manner, there are several martial arts that work extra well with finery. In fact, many of the higher-level styles do not work in armor, and one - Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style - specifically uses fans, sashes, shawls, and the like as its style weapons.
- Crane Style is based on beauty and grace, and one of its moves specifically indicates that a warrior wearing 'tall, flowing' garments (think robes or long-sleeved dresses) may add an extra point to their Defense, and such clothes will never be stained or torn while Crane Style is in effect.
- Cecille of Arc Rise Fantasia punched her way through enemies, while wearing a fancy blue dress. The sisters Paula and Luna use weapons, but still fancy clothes. Luna uses a very pretty Parasol of Pain.
- Rachel Alucard in BlazBlue wears a frilled up Elegant Gothic Lolita dress, in a Fighting Game.
- Dead or Alive: Due to the sheer number of unlockable costumes that are available either in-game, and as dlc, several of the characters exemplify the trope. Such as:
- Princess Rozalin of Disgaea 2 starts out as a Princess Classic, and always has her frilly dress with large bows, but as she learns to fight, she becomes deadly with firearms. And that's not even getting to the Superpowered Evil Side of her past life.
- Sapphire of Disgaea 3 has an outfit that's basically pants and a jacket (to help make it easy to fight as a Badass Princess), but still elegant and fancy enough to count.
- Entirely viable in much of The Elder Scrolls series. Find or buy a Pimped-Out Dress, pump it full of enchantments, and go to town. In games that let you enchant an item with an increase to the wearer's armor rating, the dress can even be made to function almost exactly like armor.
- The Prince class in Etrian Odyssey III has a princess option◊, and they tend to be strong fighters as well as opulently dressed.
- Peach from the Mario franchise. On those occasions when she does kick ass, like the Super Smash Bros. instance below, she is usually doing so in her iconic pink dress.
- The heroine of Princess Crown wears an armored, but fancy, gown.
- Ada Wong in Resident Evil 4 wears an elegant cheongsam dress, that has butterflies embroidered with gold thread, while kicking butt.
- The ladies of the Soul Calibur series often have elegant outfits. Special mention goes to Cassandra◊ and Amy◊.
- Rose from Street Fighter. Her standard outfit is an evening dress with pumps and a Scarf of Asskicking. It doesn't deter her in the slightest. (and in some Street Fighter IV ports, you can download even prettier dresses for her.)
- In the Super Smash Bros. games, Peach and Princess Zelda qualify for this trope, if rarely in their series proper. They battle in their standard series royal dresses.
- In the fouth game, Rosalina joins in, also wearing her trademark dress.
- Lady Jane of the TimeSplitters games runs around shooting at bad guys, while wearing an evening dress and fur-trimmed coat.
- There are levels in some Tomb Raider games where Lara wears formalwear. One particularly good example when she's at a party in Legend (which also averts Combat Stilettos; She removes them and goes barefoot).
- Many MMO s, especially free ones have wedding dresses and other finery for sale or craftable. Some examples are Final Fantasy XI's Wedding Dress Set or Star Wars: Galaxies Grand Ball Gown which can be worn anytime anywhere even when fighting. Some games like Eden Eternal this is largely the way they make cash selling fashion items like Maid Outfits and Fairy Dresses that even have stat boosts to help in combat.
- With Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Consular's (especially the Sage sub-class) outfits look like they came from Queen Amidala's garage sale, and you're crossing every kind of landscape and warzone laying waste to Sith in what amounts to a ballgown.
- In Fear Effect 2, Hana has to infiltrate a high-class party in order to find some information for her current mission. She eventually ends up in a gunfight while wearing her evening gown. Before she goes into the party though, her partner Rain questions her choice in attire, sarcastically asking why she doesn't just walk in naked. Hana responds by saying that she'd only have room to hide one gun if she did that. Let that sink in for a moment...
- A staple of the Tales Series, and not just for the ladies. Games with alternate costumes will often include fancy high-class outfits that the character(s) will not only walk around in, but continue to wear while kicking ass in battle. Examples include Symphonia and Legendia, both of which provide this option for almost every playable character (the latter only has the outfits in battle though; they wear their normal outfits on the field for some reason).
- When in Final Fantasy VIII you get Edea into your party, she'll be in her Pimped-Out Dress you know and love. This is downplayed in that her standard attack weapon is a some kind of weak telekinetic punch and her main weapon is magic.
- In Final Fantasy X-2 changing clothes gains new powers for the main characters. Two of these outfits fall under this trope. First is Lady Luck◊ which veers more towards Stripperiffic but still qualifies - though the weapons of choice are cards and dice. Second is Festival Goer◊ where the girls do battle in kimonos.
- In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, several of the garbs count as this. Particular mention goes to the Planetary/Color Titled garbs (Japanese and English version respectively) where Lightning battles in ankle-length ballroom gowns with wide, flaring skirts and elegant gloves. Crescent Moon/Midnight Mauve◊ is mandatory to wear during one scene in the game and some garbs, like Rising Venus/Champagne Gold◊ couple the dress with fur-collars.
- Karma's /joke emote in League of Legends. "This dress may have been impractical."
- Lilli from Tekken who kicks ass wearing a fine white dress.
- Anna Williams fights in a Qipao.
- In some of the Rune Factory games, though not restricted to just women. The player eventually gains access to the dresser, where they can choose to have their protagonist (an available female option being in RF2 and RF4) decide to fight monsters while wearing their (or their parents') wedding attire.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, the DLC Bride class is usable by all of the females in the game and lets them head to the battlefield in an elegant Fairytale Wedding Dress. They can either support with a staff, or demonstrate the trope to the fullest by fighting with a lance or a bow.
- In the Fighting Game Persona 4 Arena, Mitsuru wears a long, white fur coat, so overlapping with Pretty in Mink and Badass Longcoat.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, you can give Veronica a pretty dress. She is overjoyed and teaches you a special unarmed move in return. In the Dead Money DLC, you can obtain a slinky leg-showing cocktail dress(similar to a qipao) from Vera's suite.
- Aya Brea of Parasite Eve starts the game in a little black dress, platforms, and ... well, first playthrough, a police-issue sidearm. Second? She could be packing a rifle. Justified since she's on a date and intending to have a nice night at the opera, not kick ass. Afterwards, she changes into a more appropriate outfit.
- Ana and Paula in the Earthbound franchise, coupled with their pretty pink dresses.
- Solely for her appearance in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Fat Princess.
- Inevitable in Touhou, due to the Improbably Female Cast. Nearly all characters wear Lolita style frilly dresses. And they can all kick ass.
- Mass Effect:
- In the Umineko fighting game, the witches. Especially Beatrice, who's handing out Full-Contact Magic in an fancy, full-length ballgown.
- In Perfect Dark, Joanna wears a qipao during the Carrington Institute Defense mission. Justified, as she was about to attend a formal event there before they were attacked by the aliens.
- Aveline in Assassin's Creed III: Liberation wears a very fancy green dress and hat when in her "lady" mode. She isn't as skilled a fighter as in her "slave" and "assassin" modes, but she is still formidable, and can hide a fair number of weapons in her frills (including the series's favorite sleeve daggers).
- The Pokémon Gardevoir has a sleek and feminine form, with what resembles a long dress. Its Mega Evolution turns that 'dress' into a full-blown poofy ballgown; despite this, it gains speed as well as attack power.
- Champions Iris and Diantha both fight while wearing very expensive dresses. Iris was given hers by Drayden upon becoming Champion, because he thought it would suit her new position better than the outfit she wore in the previous games.
- Squigly fights in the clothes she was buried in, including an ankle-length hobble dress and a corset. Given the dress, she generally leaves "kicks" to Leviathan, her parasite, who uses his tail and fire breath, but can somehow manage a bicycle kick.
- Black Dahlia is an elder lady wearing a beautiful black dress along with a doilie-shaped half-cape and a Nice Hat. She is also a cold-blooded assassin working for the powerful Medici mafia and has a shotgun in place of her arm.
- In Tears to Tiara 2, of the two from Qart Hadast, Elissa wears a Battle Ballgown while Daphnis wears a maid uniform into battle. Doesn't slow them down in the slightest.
- Fantasy Life lets the player recruit other characters as combat companions, including a couple women whose lifestyle can be summed up as "Standing around in a Pimped-Out Dress by day, Action Girl by night.". Ask them to join you during the daytime part of the In-Universe Game Clock, and you get this trope.
- Elphelt Valentine from Guilty Gear X-rd Sign is a sweet and kinda ditzy Girly Bruiser who fights in this outfit.◊
- Saber of the Fate/stay night series likes wearing fine dresses, even if they are armored.
- Stella and Meryl as well as Rapunzel in Rose Guns Days don't need to wear ergonomic clothing to kick ass when needed.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- The Kyoshi Warriors wear long green dresses, gold headdresses, and feminine face-paint as part of their typical uniform◊.
- As their inspiration, Avatar Kyoshi herself fits.
- Mai◊ interstitially appears a long, elegant dress while throwing knives at people, but the trope is subverted in some scenes that seem to show the "skirt" of the dress is actually wide-legged pants.
- Inverted by Azula; while she always fights in what doubles as her formal attire (not counting while impersonating the above Kiyoshi Warriors), her "formal attire" is less Pimped-Out Dress and more standard Fire Nation army attire with a bit more style.
- Averted in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The fancy dresses that the cast occasionally wear are realistically fragile and impractical, and the characters will normally take them off before any real action starts.
- Star Butterfly of Star vs. the Forces of Evil is introduced in the first episode "Star Comes To Earth" beating up monsters and taming unicorns while wearing a frilly, turquoise Princess Classic dress.