It might not look like much, but how much did all those yards of silk and lace cost? And what about all the work to make the dress?
"6,000 dollars? It's not even leather!"
Simply put it's when anything cost a lot of money, but doesn't bling itself out. It could be something that looks like an everyday thing but was made with high quality materials and workmanship, or it could be something that is clearly expensive (or at least clear to people at the time
) but doesn't load itself with extra things. So it's still Conspicuous Consumption
, but not "In Your Face" conspicuous.
Take a Bentley or Rolls-Royce. The look of those cars clearly shows that they are luxury cars, but they (usually) aren't tricked out enough to count as a Pimped-Out Car
(but would certainly count as a Cool Car
Or take many evening dresses from at least The Thirties
onward (or dresses of the late 18th and early 19th centuries). Many are free of the frills and trimmings that were typical of evening dresses, so wouldn't qualify as a Pimped-Out Dress
, but still are made of high quality fabrics, so they would still cost a lot.note
Men's fashions often fall into this even more. The difference between a bespoke suit and an off-the-rack one that costs a fifth to a tenth as much is mainly: The bespoke suit probably has better fabric (hard to tell without touching it), and it fits really, really
well. If you don't know what to look for, you don't know there's anything fancy about the suit—the man wearing it just looks really good.
Or how a Big Fancy House
can be light on the fancy and big, but have just enough to count as a mansion.
In fiction, this is done for three reasons:
- To reflect Real Life styles and trends. Like Minimalism for example.
- To contrast Old Money characters buying things this way with Nouveau Riche characters buying flashy cars, gaudy houses, and Impossibly Tacky Clothes (like the above point, this also is Truth in Television).
- Simple cost saving, especially in animation. A ballgown with lots of trimmings would be a lot more to draw than a dress with clean lines (same with such an outfit in a video game, with or without No Flow in CGI). Or a house that has simpler decor makes simpler backgrounds.
A Sister Trope
to Modest Royalty
, Mundane Luxury
, Little Black Dress
, Sharp-Dressed Man
(as such a nice suit wouldn't be cheap), Ominous Opera Cape
(as the cape used to be a sign of a high class gentleman), Opera Gloves
Compare Simple Yet Awesome
, More Than Meets the Eye
, Worthless Yellow Rocks
(something is only opulent to some cultures).
Contrast Impoverished Patrician
(who can't afford even these things), All That Glitters
(which looks grand but truly isn't), Ermine Cape Effect
(opulent and obvious, to show one's power).
Compare / Contrast Costume Porn
Anime and Manga
- In Azumanga Daioh, Chiyo-Chan's house isn't loaded with fancy decor, but is still quite impressive (especially with how much land costs in Japan).
- In Interstella 5555, Stella wears a fancy dress to an awards show, but aside from the frills (including edging the Showgirl Skirt), it's this trope.
- Lady Oscar's dress in Rose of Versailles is both this and a pimped out dress, because it's got some trimmings, but it's not nearly as frilly as the other noble ladies' dresses featured in the story.
- The moon queen and princess dresses in Sailor Moon are actually simple dresses, especially compared to the Frills of Justice outfits in the series.
- In both the first Slayers opening, and an Imagine Spot, Lina is wearing a simple looking frilly dress.
- In Voltron, Princess Allura's and Princess Romelle's dresses aren't particularly grand, but are still grand enough for a princess.
- Played for Laughs in Ouran High School Host Club: the guys of the Host Club find the Fujiokas' simple apartment to be far below their standards and in desperate need of improvement, but they know that Haruhi will object strenuously to any attempt they make to give her luxurious things or make what they consider appropriate upgrades to her living space. They hit on the idea of secretly renovating the apartment while Haruhi and her father are out, replacing everything from floor to ceiling with replacements made to look exactly the same, down to replicating the scratches on the windows, but with higher-quality materials and craftsmanship. They've only just begun enacting their renovations when Haruhi returns home early and they're forced to abandon the project with only a single door replaced, leaving Haruhi to later wonder in bemusement whether or not that doorknob was always that nice-looking.
- In Heat Guy J, Clair wears very simple-looking, unfussy clothes, a long shirt and a pair of pants. The shirt appears to be made of silk, and the pants appear to be made of leather, two materials that are costly now and likely even more costly Twenty Minutes into the Future.
- Scrooge McDuck of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe is largely The Scrooge (as he was named), but he does have some expensive things, like his mansion and limo, but they aren't that ostentatious (just old fashioned, as he would have had them for years).
- Jean Grey's wedding dress in X-Men, which just has a mermaid dress, gloves, and a long hooded cape.
- In Anastasia, Anya's dress for the opera is a simple long, sleek column of sparkling navy blue with white opera-length gloves.
- The Disney Princess main dresses are mostly this. Although some count as pimped out dresses as well, most are also simple. This includes Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, and Rapunzel (as in her princess dress at the end).
- In the film version of The Fountainhead, Dominique wears a Little Black Dress and hooded cape that are only trimmed with white ermine at the neckline and hood respectively. Otherwise the outfit is just a long evening dress and cape.
- In Working Girl, Tess's friend, Cynthia, is shocked that a dress would cost $6,000, despite not being made of obviously expensive things.
- In the Firefly episode "Shindig", this is how the Alpha Bitch can tell Kaylee's dress was from a store, as it was extremely frilly compared to the other moderately frilly dresses (that didn't save them from getting appropriately put down by an older gentleman).
- Frasier played with this when Martin's favorite chair is destroyed, and Frasier ends up paying a small fortune to recreate it, due to how out of date the materials were. Thus the new chair became the most expensive thing in his apartment.
- In Dragon Quest VIII, Princess Medea's dress and cape aren't too grand, but still more grand than the peasant women's dresses.
- Ada's red evening dress in Resident Evil 4 doesn't have much decoration other than the butterfly embroidery, but it doesn't look like an off-the-shelf dress (not to mention she likes Kicking Ass in All Her Finery).
- In the manual for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Zelda's pink dress has enough trimmings to be a pimped out dress (the puff sleeves and the ribbons on the poofy skirt), but just a few, so the dress looks mostly simple.
- In ancient times, simply wearing clothes that had colors other than shades of brown or grey was a sign of wealth. It's why colors known by such names as "Royal Blue" and "Royal Purple" exist: those colors hardest to come by were worn most famously by the royalty.