In fiction, many characters wear fur garments, just because it's luxurious and glamorous.
Although fur historically was worn for warmth in Real Life, it's also for centuries been associated with wealth and glamour. Thus some outfits have fur, just because it makes everything's more stylish, more grand.
In Europe, certain furs were so prized that for a time there were Sumptuary Laws about who could wear what kind of fur. Ermine was among the most prized, used to trim royal robes and line Pimped Out Capes (hence the reason the trope is named Ermine Cape Effect). While the poor also wore hides, it was for utility instead of decoration, so their clothes were made with common pelts like sheepskin and rabbit.
So this trope is also as old in fiction, but film is where it's most evident. It was used extensively in The Golden Age of Hollywood just for the visual splendor it brought. At one point furs were so common they didn't provide characterization the way they do today under the Hollywood Dress Code. The exceptions were very specific outfits, like the classic pimp coat. What fur was worn was generally chosen one of two ways. The first was reflecting whatever trends was popular for a certain demographic. The second was whatever the designer felt like.
Also, in video games, fur shading also makes a good reason to have characters wear fur. Any ads for furs would count as Up Marketing, as well as ads for other luxury products having the models wear fur.
These days furs are less common and tend to show Conspicuous Consumption. The trope now has competition from Fur and Loathing, where a woman in a fur coat is evil — the Rich Bitch, The Vamp or worse. Other characters who wear fur tend to do it for a single special episode.
Now since this is about use of fur to pretty up a scene, it's not just any instance of wearing fur. Even if a fur is worn for warmth, it also has to be an excuse to have a nice fur in the scene to count for this trope. Thus an Inuit parka usually doesn't count, unless the parka is designed to be stylish.
A Sub-Trope of Garnishing the Story.
Emba Mink did a variation. Instead of stars wearing fur, they would show stars snuggling up to pretty ladies wearing fur (might have been their wives or girlfriends). The slogan: "Wrap Yourself In Something Special."
Anime and Manga
In the opening of one of the Sailor Moonmovies, Minako is trying on different clothes, and ends with showing up in a purple fur coat (also with Artemis lying around her neck). The others aren't impressed, but more because of the silly way she's acting.
In a Sick Episode where Usagi is having a fever dream, she's on a date with Mamoru, and she's wearing a Pimped-Out Dress that has a neckline of white fur.
Emerald wears a couple fur coats, a black one, and a gray one.
Fay from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle wears a huge, luxuriant white fur overcoat—over at least two more full layers of clothing! Since he's from an ice-world, bulky fur is one of the few ways to glam up his appearance.
Re-L Mayer from Ergo Proxy wears a white fur jacket half the time.
In the second season of Spice and Wolf Holo is given a fox stole by a rival of Lawrence's. She sometimes pulls it out to play with, and during the credits it seems to pose like it's still alive. And a few times she pretends her tail is just a wolf fur she wears under her skirt.
Her mother also wore a brown mink coat when her parents first appeared.
In Danger Girl, Abigail wears a mink coat to infiltrate a party.
In Silver Age Superman comics, Lois Lane was constantly competing with Lana Lang for Superman's affections. In this cover from an old comic, Lois goes back in time to prevent Lana and Superman from forming a romantic attachment, and just because of this trope, she's wearing a fur coat.
The Squadron Supreme villain The Mink, whose costume is a fur coat and furry boots.
Black Widow of the Iron Man comics occasionally wears fur. Her first appearance was wearing a brown mink wrap. In a mid 90s comic, she met Tony on a trip to Russia and she wore a white mink coat and hat over a slinky purple dress.
In Frozen, Anna is forced to find some winter clothes after Elsa made an Endless Winter, and the only suitable clothes left at a store not only conveniently fit her (and are Stylish Protection Gear), but include a cape and cap each lined with white fur.
Suzie Q: In the opening, Suzie wears a white fur wrap on the way to a dance.
Elizabeth gets a fancy mink coat early in Christmas in Connecticut. This serves to contrast her true nature, an urban sophisticate, with the persona of a humble Martha Stewart-style Housewife that she assumes when writing magazine articles.
A Muppet Family Christmas sends this one up. Kermit tells Miss Piggy he got her a mink for Christmas, and she's thrilled until she meets the mink — a live anthropomorphic mink named Maureen. Piggy is about to karate chop Kermit into next week, but then Maureen exclaims that she is Piggy's biggest fan, and Piggy quickly warms up to her.
That Lady in Ermine is certainly just using fur for glamor. Despite the name, the title character seems to be wearing an ermine coat, just because. It could have been a lot of things for what the plot was about. The final scene of the movie has her descendant wear a different kind of white ermine coat, that more fit that era, version at least sort of, that also had a white ermine hat and muff. This outfit doubled as a Fairytale Wedding Dress.
That Touch Of Mink also uses this trope just for glamor. There is a mink coat, and... it has almost nothing else to do with the plot, but it's pretty.
Many of Sonja Henie's films has her wearing fur, either as a garment or as part of her dress, including an ermine-trimmed skating dress in One In A Million, which was a replica of her dress she wore at one of her gold medal winning events.
In American Dreamer, Kathy, thinking she's Rebbecca Ryan, goes on a shopping spree, which includes several furs, which also get plenty of screentime later on.
The Bad and the Beautiful has at least one fur in each flashback. Respectively there was an ermine jacket, a dress trimmed with white fox, and a white mink wrap.
Roberta and the remake Lovely To Look At. The first has Stephanie wear a spectacular fox-trimmed jacket at the climactic Fashion Show.
Easter Parade has several fur wraps, including a long white ermine stole that Don shops for, and Nadine wears later on.
All I Want for Christmas had a number of scenes of opulent people in New York at Christmastime, so there were a number of furs, including Hallie wearing a white rabbit fur muff when she goes to correct her wish to Santa.
In Stage Door, Socialite Terry Randall wants to break into show business, and stays at a boarding house for actresses. She does bring a lot of her clothes, including a lot of her furs. She even lets her roommate, Jean, borrow her short ermine cape with the line "You may as well go to perdition in ermine. You're sure to come back in rags."
Matilda the Hun of Death Race 2000 wore a white mink jacket, and even a biker helmet covered in white mink.
In the opening of the exploitation film Death Weekend, Diana, a fashion model, wears a lynx fur jacket.
In C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the wardrobe contains fur coats, so the children conveniently take them for warmth. When spring comes, they shed them. At the end of the book, they feel obliged to explain to Professor Kirk what had happened to his coats.
The Widow Of Desire is a Cold War spy thriller written in The Eighties, about how a Russian furrier living in the US is murdered, and his American wife learns it was because he was involved in trying to bust apart a Soviet coup attempt. A white Russian Lynx coat even ends up being a MacGuffin.
In Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly, the would-be bride is a movie star, Christine, who has a sable coat, and chinchilla coat, and a monkey-trimmed jacket. She gives her sister-in-law, Norah, the monkey fur coat, and Norah also gets to wear Christin's chinchilla few times (the clothing equivalent of loaning a Mercedes), which she actually is glad for when the nights get cold.
Christine also wears a fur wrap on two covers of the book. One has her wearing a chinchilla wrap, and the other has her wearing a white fur wrap.
The Discworld books don't hide where fur comes from, but it accepts it as a part of life in this pseudo-medieval world. One of the most popular glamour furs is the white fur of the Vermine. There are a few digs about it for the sake of humor, such as the line, "the fur is highly prized, especially by the vermine itself", in Sourcery.
Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs combines this trope with a heavy dose of domme and the title character's only duty as the narrator's Mistress being to swathe herself in sumptuous furs, regardless of the temperature. Played as a kink, but referencing the historical luxury and power overtones of wearing furs.
Whateley Universe example: Rich Bitch Solange in her custom-made furs in "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy". Kodiak even thinks about getting her to wear her fur and nothing else that evening...
In Neuromancer, furs are grown from tissue on a bed of collagen, because most animals have died out, making them relatively widespread for a dystopia.
The Roald Dahl short story Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat is about an adulterous woman trying to keep the mink coat she got from her lover without raising her husband's suspicions. It was adapted into an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
In Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, bratty rich girl Veruca Salt wears a mink coat to the factory. This detail appears in the 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in which she notes that "I have three others at home"; the actress's coat was specially made for her, since mink coats weren't commonly made in girls' sizes. (Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca, later claimed she was yelled at by the director in Real Life after accidentally ruining it after leaving it on a chair on set.)
The Bobbsey Twins: In the early editions of the very first book (published 1904), Nan Bobbsey — at age eight — says that all she want for Christmas is "a set of furs ... a beautiful brown set, just like Mamma's." And she gets them.
In the Xanth novel Centaur Isle, Princess Irene is given a silver-lined fur by the centaurs.
Example from Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster is unusual because the girl manages to be covered by skin-tight mink fur coat and be naked, making her all the more sexy. The natives of the planet Tran-ky-ky are described as "bats wearing mink coats". Most are tall and wide, except the petite (i.e. of human proportions) Rebellious Princess/Royal Brat Elfa. In the scene when she tries to seduce the protagonist Ethannote Being a proper gentleman and not wishing to anger her father Ethan threw her out of his room. (He only pushed slightly, but Tran are much lighter than they look.) Later she married one of his Tran friends.:
Her outfit was done up like holiday packaging by a clumsy six-year-old. The fact that the skin beneath was covered with light gray fur made it appear no less naked. Excepting the feline head and broad feet, and those piercing vertical pupils, she might have passed for a tridee starlet clad in skin-tight mink.
Live Action TV
Dallas has many, especially if it was thick and fluffy, like fox, lynx, or sable.
Jennifer Marlowe of WKRP in Cincinnati has some furs that she gets from giving rich men company (but not really sleeping with them, just being a dear friend). She has at least a black mink coat, a stole, and a white mink coat.
In the E True Hollywood Story episode of Tonya Harding, one of her friends mentioned that Tonya wanted a fur coat, like all the other girls she skated with, and her dad eventually saved up and bought her a little rabbit fur coat. While her friend talked about it, there was then a reenactment clip showing a girl lacing her skates while wearing a white rabbit jacket.
In Frasier, it's mentioned that Maris has an ermine lap robe, and her sister wore an ermine muff that she used to smuggle a chihuahua into an opera (neither is shown, because both characters were never on screen).
Mission: Impossible: Casey wears a mink coat over an extremely low-cut cocktail dress while playing The Vamp in order to get close to the main bad guy in "The Lions".
Adam Adamant Lives: Jones wears a white fox stole when she infiltrates an evil escort service in "Death By Appointment Only".
In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Halloween is treated just like Christmas, so in the first season episode, "A Halloween Story", the Spellman's attend a party held by Aunt Marigold, and everyone is dressed like it's a Christmas party, with Marigold wearing a cocktail dress with a fur neckline. Meanwhile on Earth, Harvey is throwing a regular Halloween party, and one of the guest is dressed as a 50s prom queen, topped with a white rabbit fur shoulder wrap.
Santa Claus's iconic outfit is typically trimmed in white fur, as shaped by newspapers and magazines throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Fashion Magazines, in at least one issue in an Autumn month, will have a spread about fur fashion.
Nouvelle Vague's video for their cover of "Eisbär" ("Polar Bear") features the singer laying on a polar bear rug. This is a song that goes something like "I'd like to be a polar bear, at the cold pole." Hmm...yes, so she says as she strokes the fur.
Anne Murray wears a silver fox coat for much of the video for her song "Now & Forever".
The Jenny Lewis song "Rabbit Fur Coat" uses it as a metaphor when singing about her troubled past, but at the end does sing about the symbolic coat favorably.
Monique Van Vooren had an album "Mink in Hi-Fi", and the cover was her in a white mink wrap, surrounded by a pile of other mink clothes.
Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground did the musical version of ''Venus in Furs", where masochism goes hand-in-glove with the right sort of fetish clothing:
Downy sins of streetlight fancies Chose the costumes she shall wear; Ermine furs adorn the imperious, Severin, Severin, awaits you there
In the video for the Big Bang song "Forever With You", the girl wears a white fur jacket and hat, and the two guys wear fur-trimmed jackets.
Miley Cyrus wears a full length white and gray fox coat in the music video for "We Can't Stop", and has also worn it in several live performances since, such as her Jingle Ball performances in the winter of 2013.
Gypsy: In most versions, there is a white rabbit coat and hat June wears for one of the acts, and a mink coat Gypsy wears that she lets her mother wear at the end. The first film version even had Gypsy wear a dress with a skirt covered entirely with white fox.
Many of Barbie's outfits have fur, from the white fur wrap on the "Enchanted Evening" outfit, to holiday dresses having fur trim.
As do many variants of the Disney Princesses' dresses, such as a set of winter merchandise in 2005 and 2006 which showed the princesses in dresses trimmed with white fur, and carrying white fur muffs.
As do some of the outfits in the Princess Maker games, including the "rabbit princess" ending in 3 being a white Fur Bikini.
One of The Sims many expansion packs contains fur coats.
Jizzy, a pimp in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, boasts of mink fur being used almost casually in his home, as carpeting, and wallpaper. One of the streetwalker NPC models in Las Venturas wears a mink jacket.
Guild Wars: The Norn Armor sets are largely trimmed with white, black, or brown fur. See here, and here.
Cate Archer wears a fur trimmed coat in both No One Lives Forever games, the second being a winter coat with chinchilla cuffs and a hood.
Fate/stay night: Gilgamesh combines this with Fur and Loathing, and expresses the Rich Bitch part to the hilt. In later incarnations without his pimping coat, he's not as flamboyant, dangerous or, quite frankly, stylin'.
Arc Rise Fantasia: Adelle's outfit has white fur trim, and some white fur puff balls.
Ruby of Alundra 2 wears a mini dress trimmed with white fur.
Ashei, the lady knight, wears a mink costume on Snowpeak Mountain in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It's justified in the sense that she's incognito as a yeti, but when she takes off the head of the costume, her expression of surprise (at meeting Link) makes her fit this trope in an adorable fashion.
Another lady is complaining about the cold when Zora falls froze over, and says she misses her fur coat.
Gaia Online being a dress-up site, naturally there are fur items. Even a few whose descriptions acknowledge where the fur came from... sort of.
Leopard Couture: Don't be concerned for the leopard. His license said he was a donor.
Legends of the Hunted is a compilation of various point & click adventure games, and like other similar compilations, the games have little to do with the title, and their covers show scenes not in any of the games. In this game, the cover scene is a snowy forest with a wolf next to a woman in a long, white cape trimmed with white fur.
In the opening of Valhalla Knights 2, a goddess tries to destroy humanity, but she's defeated by a priestess in a fur-trimmed robe.
Knights Of Buena Vista is a Campaign Comic covering Frozen, and during Elsa's coronation it turned out that her cape was supposed to be lined with ermine, which Elsa sold for loads of cash. She justifies it by claiming it was too warm in the year to wear all that, and Anna's player mentions that she likes to wear her furs in summer. Anna later re-buys the ermine from Oaken for lining her winter outfit, which includes an ermine petticoat under the skirt just to help her freezing lower half.
In Idiotsitter, Billie and Gene don oversized fur coats during "Happy Birthday", while they are also whacked out on peyote. The image of them in their coats and sunglasses, in-doors, is also a promo image for the series.
Goldie Gold and Action Jack: Goldie Gold's standard outfit included a white fur jacket. She also has a winter outfit with an ermine-trimmed parka.
Beverly Hills Teens has some, usually as a fur rug draped over chairs. Bianca's most common fur is a brown fox wrap with her party dress. She also wears a renaissance-era Pimped-Out Dress with a fur neckline when auditioning for a play. Nicky has a white fur coat and a skating dress trimmed with white fur.
A few in The Cleveland Show, including a coat Donna wore in a Blaxploitation film she did years before, and Rallo got in trouble for wearing nothing but a mink coat and underwear for a school picture.
In one episode of The Jetsons, George and Mr. Spacely were in a competition where the prize was a mink coat, which each man wanted to give to his wife. They ended up in a tie and had a tug-of-war with the coat itself, causing it to tear. This worked out, since one wife ended up with a mink jacket and the other used the bottom half as a mink stole.
Queen Elizabeth II got a mink wrap as a gift for her wedding. She wore it, and other fur wraps, quite often going out (probably because they were light compared to all the regalia she wore). This might have influenced how the fur wrap became such a common style of fur in The Fifties.
Princess Diana even had a white mink jacket she wore a few times.
Is a common decoration for a Pimped-Out Dress throughout history, whether trimming, edging, lining, or covering.
Take this description of a dress from 1742:
My lady 2 ' was in dark green velvet trimmed with ermine, and an ermine petticoat — a present from her son, but it would have better suited the slender-waisted daughter Fanny, who had a scarlet damask...
Ermine petticoats, as well as other fur petticoats, were actually a popular accessory for centuries, like in this picture from 1694, or this outfit from 1957.
Mae West loved wearing furs in her films and real life, and bought a white rabbit, cape, and muff with her first paycheck from stagework. She also could wear dresses with thick fur at the hem, and move around fairly easily.
Robert Mondavi started his famous Napa Valley winery after he was fired from the nearby Charles Krug Winery by his own mother and brother (the Mondavi family owned and operated it). Why was he fired? He bought a mink coat for his wife after they were invited to attend a state dinner at the White House. His brother Peter accused him of embezzling money from the winery to pay for the coat, and dispute was so intense the two middle-aged men eventually got in a fistfight over it.