I Dream Of Red!
"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 a 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
In terms of concept and symbolism, this trope is the polar opposite of the Woman in Black
. 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
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Anime & Manga
- Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, in her first appearance in the DCU series 52. She "has the kind of beauty that leaves you breathless," and she wears the hell out of that dress.
- The titular Woman in Red, a character who debuted in 1940, called by some the first female superhero.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- 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.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Melisandre of Asshai always appears in a red dress or robes that mark her as a priestess of R'hllor. She's a particularly interesting example, as she first appears to be very morally ambiguous, but later proves to be ''ruthlessly'' determined to fight off the Others, who very possibly trying to end humanity. Her itinerary includes introducing a fanatical new religion to the Seven Kingdoms, seducing Stannis after he declared himself king, being fond of making sacrifices of the unfaithful, and proving to be something of a slight temptress to the men around her, not always deliberately.
- 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.
- Imabelle, the Femme Fatale in A Rage in Harlem, wears red throughout the story.
- Hadith Sarim, the first time Rayojini meets her in Burying the Shadow.
- 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.
- Rose Cross in the League Of Magi stories wears exclusively red and is even known as the "Red Lady."
- iCarly: Miss Ackerman. Carly calls her hot, Freddie goes "Woah" 5 times (and this is the Season 1 Freddie who hasn't really hit puberty yet).
- Number Six from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. It's her default outfit. Tight, revealing, sexy. She's a Cylon and seduces Baltar.
- Oswin Oswald in "Asylum of the Daleks".
- Jilly Kitsinger from Torchwood: Miracle Day, playing the temptress role for a convicted paedophile and murderer, no less.
- 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".
- In the first episode of Ashes to Ashes, Alex Drake arrives in 1981 in a short red dress. She later comments that she wants to get out of the dress before Chris de Burgh writes a song about her.
- In The Golden Girls, Blanche's wedding gown was red. Considering Blanche, it suited.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 virginal Woman in White 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.
- 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.
- 666 Park Avenue: Olivia buys Jane a very expensive red dress as a welcome present (and an incitement).
- 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.
- Murdoch Mysteries: In "Twentieth Century Murdoch" note , Detective Murdoch's on-again-off-again Love Interest Dr. Julia Ogden wears an off-the-shoulder red dress to the New Year's ball in 1899. They look very modern and sexy, especially compared to other ladies' outfits.
- 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...
- Glamorous Wartime Singer Greta Müller from Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter.
- Evil Is Sexy example from the Upstairs Downstairs revival, Lady Persie; she's a selfish and petulant but alluring young aristocrat... and a Fascist and Nazi sympathizer. She likes flowing red gowns.
Myth and Legend
- Kuchisake-Onna, a vain, murderous, and (mostly) extremely attractive youkai, has gone from a red kimono to a slinky red dress, with a surgical mask to hide her mouth. In some modern retellings, she even drives a red sports car.
- In Cactus Canyon, Rosie the saloon bargirl is wearing a low-cut red dress.
- Trixie, the mafia Moll in Capcom's unreleased Kingpin, wears a sexy red dress that emphasizes her cleavage and legs.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wakfu's Evangelyne appears in a red dress and dances in a dream sequence.
- According to legend, John Dillinger was betrayed to the FBI by a woman in red. In actuality, she (Anna Sage, a Romanian immigrant who was trying to get a visa by handing over Dillinger) was wearing orange, which she did to signal the FBI she was with Dillinger, but the light made it look red.
- 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.
- Wearing red dresses in funerals is the ultimate insult to the deceased and means the lady in red is happy the deceased has died. It is akin to saying out loud "good riddance, schmuck!". This is referenced in the movie Moonstruck where Cher's character threatens to wear such a dress to Johnny's (the man who jilted her) funeral once he dies.