"Red. Red. RED. RED, Charlie boy. Red is the color of sex! Burgundy is the color of hot water bottles! Red is the color of sex and fear and danger and signs that say, "Do. Not. Enter."Lady in Red is something of an old fashion trope, where The Vamp or the Femme Fatale was designated by having her wear bright red formal wear. The Lady in Red wasn't necessarily a slut, but she was strongly sexual, and often had a strong personality. In more prudish times the Lady in Red was considered almost dangerous. Red clothing is also associated with prostitutes, chorus girls and other dancers, and other women attempting to be sexy. This trope is about the character type, not the dress itself. A character wearing a red outfit does not always make her a Lady In Red. The Glamorous Wartime Singer is often a Lady In Red, as is The Chanteuse; sometimes, the dress will be a Happy Holidays Dress or Sexy Santa Dress. Unlike Woman in White, this trope is grown women only; for little girls, see Little Dead Riding Hood and compare Princesses Prefer Pink. A Lady in Red is sexy. She might be morally ambiguous but she mostly displays a form of sexual availability, a signal that she's ready to fulfill a guy's sexual desires. The Woman in Black may be sexy and enticing but, in sharp contrast to her crimson counterpart, she is also openly menacing and sexually unavailable, especially if her outfit covers her whole body. In any case, the Woman in Black clearly conveys that approaching her is not a good idea, whereas the Lady in Red means to arouse lust. Compare The Little Black Dress, Pink Means Feminine. Please note, that according to Chinese mythology, a woman who dies in a red dress, or commits suicide in one, is able to come back to haunt those who wronged her, which leads to a multitude of ladies in red dresses in Hong Kong horror movies. These ladies are not necessarily a Lady In Red. Additionally, in Bollywood and throughout Southeast Asia, red is more associated with marriage and love instead of sex. Thus, a woman in a red sari is almost never a Lady In Red. All of the ideas above come mostly from Western culture.
— Lola, Kinky Boots
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Anime & Manga
- Black Butler has Madame Red (her real name is Angelina Dalles-Barnett but it's a nickname she earned), Ciel's aunt. She's a free-spirited young widow who likes to have fun and is flirty with everyone she meets. She wears red because it's the color of blood: she is Jack the Ripper.
- Madlax wears a crimson red cocktail dress in the first episodes into battle. And even the man she's about to kill admits she looks gorgeous.
- Kaolinite from Sailor Moon. Interestingly, she changes to black after her apparent death and resurrection.
- Yumi Komagata from Rurouni Kenshin. Notably, she used to be an oiran before joining up with Shishio.
- Ranma ½: Played for laughs with Ranma Saotome's girl form. He's one of the most (if not the most) attractive women in the entire series. He knows it and plays it up for all the benefits he can possibly get, especially in the manga. Ranma's seductive ways are highlighted by his typical red shirt, his red hair in the anime, and, at one point, a red Qipao dress from some official art. Plus, in general, he's just seen in a lot of red clothing.
- Phantom Quest Corp.: Ayaka Kisaragi is stunning for a woman her age and is the series' resident fanservice character. Each episode opens with her wearing form-fitting red dress (also featured on the cover art), which has a low-cut back and a split seam to show off her legs, along with a matching pair of high-heels. It gives her the look of a lounge singernote , but she's actually an Occult Detective.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena:
- In the anime version of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Anthy wears a red dress during the Rose Duels as she's the bride and the prize of the tournament. The sexual and dangerous connotations become more and more apparent as the show goes on as it's realized that she's sleeping with her brother, serves as his Dragon and seduces and tempts various other characters (often at Akio's behest)
- Touga and Akio are a Rare Male Example. Touga is associated with red roses, has red hair and his outfit is lined with red. Akio wears red and drives a red sports car. They're both a bit of a manwhore, serve as the main Mr. Fanservice and use sex and love to manipulate and charm everyone around them.
- Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, in her first appearance in the DCU series 52. She's described as having "the kind of beauty that leaves you breathless," while wearing a brilliantly-red dress.
- Sin City: The title character in "The Babe Who Wore Red" is a beautiful Damsel in Distress whose striking red dress is the only object of color in the otherwise black-and-white noir story. She turns out to be a subversion of the trope, as she's actually a nun who considered forsaking her vows.
- Vampirella is a female vampire who wears a red sling-bikini and whose seductiveness is her trademark.
- Crimson had two prominent ladies in red: the resident monster hunter Scarlet Thinbaut X, who wore an all-red sexy combat suit evocative of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Lisseth, dressing in a long-red gown sporting some Absolute Cleavage. While both characters qualified as Ms. Fanservice, they fit the trope in different ways with Lisseth being openly seductive, while Scarlet serving as The Hero's Love Interest. Scarlet's ancestor Marraine also used to be one, wearing a red cape that marked her as off-limits to any lower louts and available only to noblemen.
Films — Animated
- Subverted, then the subversion is lampshaded by Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She's gorgeous and wears a very revealing long slinky shiny dress, showing some legs and lots of cleavage, but:
Jessica: I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way.
- Esmeralda wore red poledancing outfit in the "Topsy Turvy" number in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Ironically, in real life, red is considered bad luck for Gypsies, and Judge Frollo was watching her dance in public... Bad luck indeed.
- In The Swan Princess, the imposter Odette's dress was slinky red and black, as opposed to Odette's usual virginal white.
Films — Live-Action
- The Gene Wilder vehicle The Woman in Red features model Kelly LeBrock as the titular character, which was a Foreign Remake of Un éléphant ça trompe énormément and was riding on the success of 10. Best known for the Stevie Wonder classic "I Just Called To Say I Love You", which earned the film its sole Academy Award for Best Song. He also sings "The Woman In Red".
- Violet from Bound (1996) is a Femme Fatale who spends a good chunk of the film in a red dress.
- Inverted in Requiem for a Dream, in which an elderly woman destroys herself trying to fit into her old red dress.
- In the film adaptation of the Stephen King short story Umney's Last Case, the wife of the author who created the 1930's Private Eye protagonist dresses up in a slinky red dress in order to seduce him, acting like The Vamp character from one of her husband's books.
- The Thin Blue Line references the famous woman in red who shot notorious gangster John Dillinger. The movie then goes on to note that the woman was actually wearing orange at the time, it just seemed red because of the lighting. This ties into the theme of inaccurate memory.
- In Gone with the Wind, when rumors abound that Scarlett and Ashley have been caught in an illicit embrace (Scarlett is married to Rhett at the time), Rhett demands that she wear a red dress to Ashley's Birthday party.
Rhett: "I want you to look your part tonight."
- Early in The Mask, Tina shows up at the bank wearing a clingy red dress, distracting Stanley while innocently inquiring about opening an account and surreptitiously casing the joint.
- Swing Kids: After being called a "priss" and presumed to be uptight for the earlier part of the movie, Evey shows up at a swing party in a bright red dress. The look on Peter's face when he sees her is priceless.
- Frantic. Emmanuelle Seigner changes from her black leather look to a tight red dress when they go to an expensive nightclub; it's probably not a coincidence she dances uncomfortably close to Harrison Ford in this scene.
- In Wings of Desire French babe Marion wears a fancy red dress when eventually mets former angel Damiel.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, Peggy Carter (Steve Rogers' ally and love interest) wears a rather impressive red dress in one scene, which particularly stands out in a pub full of drab-uniformed soldiers, all of whom fall silent when she enters.
- In Inglorious Basterds near the climax Shoshanna wears red gown and lipstick.
- In Jezebel, Julie Marsden (played by Bette Davis) scandalizes polite society when she shows up to her débutante ball wearing a red dress instead of virginal white.
- The City of Lost Children: The woman in the bar who tries and comically fails to seduce One wear a red dress. At the time, he is devastated over the death of Miette.
- The Empress wears either red or black for most of Legend of the Black Scorpion. Scenes emphasizing her sexual dominance over the Emperor show her in, or surrounded by, red fabric.
- Ghost Ship: Francesca, the ship's former singer, was dressed like this. She reappears on the ship as a vamp-like ghost, and is later revealed to have participated in the original massacre, tempting one of the crewmen to kill the other conspirators for her.
- Deep Rising: This is Trillian's outfit for the first half of the movie, as she was a thief and conman on the cruise liner who used it to distract the captain so she could steal his keycard as part of her scheme.
- In Casino Royale (2006), Vesper Lynd is wearing this in her final scenes. Aside from the fact that her duplicity has just been discovered, the color helps Bond spot her as he searches for her in the crowd—note that absolutely no one else in that scene is clad in red. This was deliberately done by the filmmakers to make her stand out.
- West Side Story: Maria wears a red dress in the film's final scenes. Very symbolic as she's recently lost her virginity and regarding all the blood that's been shed up to this point.
- A different take in The Girl (1987), where the Fille Fatale wraps herself in a red towel when seducing Franco Nero's character (having already stripped off her blue dress).
- Fatal Instinct: Lola Cain, the Femme Fatale, appears in a red dress when she seduces Ned Ravine.
- Videodrome: When Max is on a talk show to defend his low-brow network, he notes that that the red dress of Nikki, one of his co-guests, is quite alluring. They strike up a relationship not long after.
- Downplayed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Hermione wears a red dress to Bill and Fleur's wedding and when she first appears wearing it, Ron can be seen gazing at her with a slight look of lust on his face. In the book the dress was purple and it was more of a She Cleans Up Nicely moment.
- Eve of Destruction: Eve steals a red leather jacket from a clothing shop, which she later uses to seduce a bar patron.
- Film/Hunk: The Devil's assistant, at one of the parties.
- The Matrix: The Lady in Red, intended to distract Neo during a simulation.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula: Lucy Westenra wears a red gown whenever she is attacked by Dracula, and each time these attacks are often sexualized.
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Diana is introduced wearing a red dress that certainly gets her noticed by Bruce even while she steals note a hacking device containing all of Lex's files from under his nose.
- In Declarations of War by Len Deighton, a woman traveling with the protagonist has two dresses, black and red. She declines to wear the red one in a small Latin American town, as it is pointed out that only one type of woman wears red in those types of towns.
- The Whore of Babylon or "Babylon the Great Harlot" in the Revelation of John is described as a woman wearing scarlet.
- In A Prayer for Owen Meany, the narrator's mother only dresses in black and white, except for a single red dress she wears to special, mysterious occasions.
- In Death: a number of female characters put on red outfits in the series. Eve put on a red outfit to seduce Roarke in Witness In Death and Magdalana wore a red dress early on in Innocence In Death.
- White as Snow: At the height of her beauty, power, and sexuality, Arpazia is seen wearing a particular red gown.
- Dora Wilk, a pseudo-succubus, puts a red dress on for a vampire party. Fittingly, she has red hair as well.
- Phèdre at the Midwinter Masque in Kushiel's Chosen, which she plays up by wearing a gown that exposes her entire back, letting all the peerage of Terre d'Ange know that she is returning to Naamah's Service; that is, going back to being a High-Class Call Girl.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Cersei doesn't always wear red, but she wears it enough that it's noticeable. Justified, because it's her family color. And Melisandre, who always wears red. Also justified: she wears red for religious reasons.
- Shaman Blues: Konstancja, Witkacy's Femme Fatale, always has most of her clothes and accessories red.
- Number Six from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. It's her default outfit. Tight, revealing, sexy. She's a Cylon and seduces Baltar.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In "Amends", Willow wears a tight red dress to show Oz she's Ready for Lovemaking. In the same episode, the First is trying to incite Angel into having sex with Buffy so he'll lose his soul; when Angel runs into Buffy in her bedroom wearing a blood-red dress that exposes her neck, he has to jump out the window to stop himself from jumping on her then and there.
- In "Surprise", Drusilla wears red in contrast to the virginal Buffy, Drusilla having already been 'corrupted' by Angel, like Buffy soon will be. In conjunction with her dark hair Red and Black, Keep Back also applies, given Drusilla's role as the killer of Kendra, and the wanton who turns Spike and Angelus against each other.
- In "Wild At Heart" sultry nightclub singer Veruca makes love to the microphone while wearing a red blouse and red lipstick, all the while locking eyes with Oz. Willow is not happy; quite rightly as it turns out, as Oz cheats with Veruca later in the episode.
- Glory, the Big Bad of Season 5, as befits her personality. She vamps everyone she talks to and is quite The Fashionista.
- Firefly: Inara Serra is a classy companion, which is something between a therapist, geisha and courtesan. Captain Mal Reynolds would describe her profession as whoring. She wore such a dress at the beginning of "Shindig". It is bright red and in two pieces, conveniently showing Inara's midriff. The skirt part is very long and rather slinky and tight.
- Daphne wears a stunning red dress in the classic Frasier episode "Moon Dance", where she and Niles dance a passionate tango and come within a hair's breadth of a Love Confession, after their UST gets ramped up higher than it had ever been before.
- Glee: This is what the local Ms. Fanservice Santana picks for her prom dress. Kurt even lampshades it, saying it goes wonderfully with her personality.
- In The Golden Girls, Blanche's wedding gown was red. Considering Blanche, it suited—she admits that even she would not have been able to keep a straight face had she worn a white dress.
- In C-drama The Holy Pearl, Mo Yin wears red throughout her Establishing Character Moment (sentencing the main character to death), marking her as a more sensual and passionate character than her Woman in White sister.
- Magnificent Century: Hürrem wears red noticeably more often than any other color. Sexiness aside, the red of her dress reinforces the red of her hair, and her role as a Fiery Redhead.
- Murdoch Mysteries: Late in "Twentieth Century Murdoch", it's New Year's Eve 1899 and Julia is slowly getting ready to accompany her husband Darcy to a private party hosted by one of his colleagues. Darcy chides her as she's fussing with jewelry to go with her dark, long-sleeved gown (they're long overdue at the party), then he tells her she should be with whom she chooses that night and leaves the room. She next appears at the constabulary's New Year's gala ball in an off-the-shoulder red dress with a beaded fringe, together with a red feathered hair ornament. After telling William about her decision to become a psychiatrist, he expresses doubt that she came there to tell him that, and she blurts out that she and Darcy have separated. Moments later, they're kissing, framed in a doorway with fireworks exploding in the sky around them.
- The Nanny: The opening theme lampshades that Fran is Lady in Red: "She's the lady in red while everybody else is wearing tan". In the pilot episode, she comes down the stairs to a party wearing a red dress while the piano player sings "The Lady in Red".
- Red Dwarf:
- Kochanski is Dave Lister's Love Interest and, most would agree, out of his league. In season 7, Kochanski's default outfit is a tight red shiny uniform which screams "sexy lady". In one episode, Lister gives Kochanski a beautiful red sparkly dress as a present, but she wears it only in Kryten's Imagine Spot where he imagined Lister and Kochanski as a couple who sent him away.
- Princess Bonjella, rescued by Ace Rimmer from Space Nazis in "Stoke Me a Clipper", wears a long tight red dress. There'll be time for explanations later. And hopefully, some sex...
- Robin Hood: In the series 2 episode "The Booby and the Beast", Marian wears a red dress to attract Count Friedrich at the insistence of the Sheriff.
- Jilly Kitsinger from Torchwood: Miracle Day, playing the temptress role for a convicted paedophile and murderer, no less.
- The X-Files. Agent Scully wears a red cocktail dress in "Triangle", where she's an OSS spy in 1939. It's notable that this is the first time Mulder kisses Scully, and quite passionately too, though she still gives him a Megaton Punch in response.
- There is a gem of a song from Allie Wrubel: "The Lady in Red, the fellas are crazy for the Lady in Red..."
- The Grateful Dead mention one in the song "Casey Jones".
"Trouble ahead, a lady in red!/Take my advice, you'd be better off dead..."
- The Beatles' song "Yes It Is" is about a man pleading with his lover not to wear red, because it would bring up painful memories of a lost love for him.
- Chris Deburgh's "Lady In Red"
I never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance
Looking for a little romance
Given half the chance
- Lorrie Morgan's "Something in Red." The red dress is what first attracted the singer's husband to her, and she asks for a similar dress decades later to rekindle their romance.
- The song "Red Dress" by The Radiators (US) is an homage to the concept:
The parking lot's busting out in fistfights—Such disturbance, just to catch her eye.
Myth and Legend
- In Edward Arlington Robinson's "Llewellyn and the Tree", the titular character escaped from a miserable marriage and excessive timidity by running off with a "scarlet" woman, who is described in terms of the roses, coral, and the rouge she wears. Since her effect on Llewellyn was positive, the connotations of red shift from the sin that neighbors impute to her to life and vibrancy instead.
- In the Book of Revelation of the Bible, the Whore of Babylon is described as wearing red (well, scarlet) and purple (which wasn't always distinguished from red in ancient times) robes.
- In Anyone Can Whistle, "Ze Lady from Lourdes" who comically seduces Hapgood is Nurse Fay Apple + red dress + wig + outrageous French accent.
- In Follies, Phyllis wears a fringe-skirted dress in flaming red for "The Story of Lucy and Jessie." The chorus boys' top hats and tails match her color.
- In the 2000 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, Mary Magdalene wears a slinky red dress.
- BlazBlue's Litchi Faye Ling. Red Qipao? Check. Stripperiffic and flattering? Due to Absolute Cleavage present, check. It's slightly sleeveless, revealing her shoulders, so semi-check on that. Reveals luscious legs? Check. Is she the resident Ms. Fanservice of the game? Hell yes.
- Princess Caeda from Fire Emblem Akaneia wears red and sometimes uses her very good looks to get what she needs. Her seductions save lives.
- The Witch Queen in The Matrix: Path of Neo wears a short hemmed, long-sleeved red, corset-topped dress with Show Some Leg.
- Kaileena in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within where she wears a revealing red outfit. Kaileena was designed by Ubisoft developers to be a sexually alluring temptress.
- The Sims: A vamp character in a red or black dress.
- Harvest Moon:
- Eve from Harvest Moon is the local bartender and a bachelorette. She is the "sexiest" of the bachelorettes and wears a red dress. Harvest Moon: Magical Melody makes her a Woman in White (and pink), which fits her Stepford Smiler personality as well.
- Muffy from Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is an expy of Eve. She's the local bartender and is flirtatious. If you marry her in the Updated Re-release version she will trade her skimpy red-and-black dress for a more conservative baby blue one.
- The Fox Sister: The Kumiho wears a sexy red dress when she seduces her first victim.
- In Love and Capes, Mark complains of how long Abby takes to dress until she appears in a red dress.
- Betty Boop used to wear a black dress because she was around before the invention of colour, then she switched to a skimpy red dress.
- From Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Gadget in the episode "Double 'O Dale" as part of her femme fatale costume, and one of the few times that she shows awareness of her own sexuality (though later she notes that it's all "part of the act").
- The singer/showgirl/stripper in Red Hot Riding Hood. She's even unofficially named "Red", probably as much from her hair as her costume (which is white in several of the shorts). In any case her clothing certainly draws attention.
- The music video for the Alvin and the Chipmunks song "Crocodile Rock" shows Alvin pining for a pretty female chipmunk with blonde hair in a red dress wearing heels. She doesn't look much older than Alvin.
- The late, great baseball personality Buck O'Neill had a stated fondness for women in red dresses; he once told his biographer, "Son, in this life, you never walk by a red dress." At his funeral, all the women wore red.
- Scarlet red in Kimonese stands for sexuality and vigour of youth, being a suitable background colour for a young girl's furisode or the wedding costume's overcoat uchikake, as well as accessories — however, red underkimono has been downright scandalous for many a decade, and the only people who get away with wearing such are geisha and such.
- Anna Sage became known as the Lady in Red for helping the FBI bring down John Dillinger.