Whoever had designed the dress didn't known when to stop. They'd put lace over the silk, and trimmed it with black vermine, and strung pearls anywhere that looked bare, and puffed and starched the sleeves and then added silver filigree and then started over with the silk.
Esme Weatherwax buys one of these in Maskerade to blend in with an opera crowd.
Defied by City Watch Commander Samuel Vimes (formerly a lowly Night Watch captain, then knighted and later made Duke of Ankh against his will), who goes out of his way to avoid wearing his hated official ducal outfits as much as possible. These consist of a velvet cloak and hat, a red shirt with silly baggy sleeves, tights and puffed shorts, a "tiny shiny breastplate" and a helmet with feathers in it. Yet Vimes's stubbornly proletarian soul prefers a honest policeman's outfit (leather knee-breeches, leather cloak, sandals or sturdy boots, a dented breastplate and a helmet blessedly free of any silly feathers), the sartorial conflict is preprogrammed.
The wizards of Unseen University love ornate and grand robes. They have shown a magpie-like (if magpies were a bunch of fat old nicotine-addicted men in beards) fascination with glittery accessories and tend to pimp out their robes and broadbrimmed pointy hats as much as possible. Or at least the older and more conservative wizards do. There's no use in being important if commoners cannot see how important you are, they argue. A fine example was the sentient Archchancellors' Hat, which had, among other things, a ring of blazing octarine stones affixed all around its rim which gave it "a rich and sinister tastelessness". Even more elaborate are their festive costumes, as seen during formal occasions such as the wizards' procession:
There were a lot of them [wizards] in the hall, in all their glory. And there was nothing finer than a wizard dressed up formally, until someone could find a way of inflating a Bird of Paradise, possibly by using an elastic band and some kind of gas.
Even the incompetent Rincewind the Wizzard, in his threadbare moth-eaten red robes and flip-flops, dreams of a new wizarding hat with fresh sequins and "those, you know, like glass chandelier things? Lots of those all round the rim" and its inscription Wizzard spelled with three Zs.
In Kushiel's Legacy, Phèdre spends a while waxing lyrical about her dress before every fête, ball, masque or other special occasion. The red and black dress for her first assignation comes to mind, and the gown she wore in Kushiel's Avatar to murder the Mahrkagir with her hair-pin. And when she wears a gown with a low back, that shows her tattoo, she means business.
Alexander Pope, when writing The Rape of the Lock, knew better than to insert lavish descriptions of Belinda's outfits... however, considering that her petticoat alone, with its fifty-sylph guard of honor, is described in terms of which Achilles himself would have been proud, it simply follows that the dress that goes over it is equally sumptuous.
Esme Squalor in A Series of Unfortunate Events wears a bizarre and disturbing variant — a huge dress that looks like a fire, complete with black lace for smoke, which crackles when she walks.
Esme Squalor loves this trope in a twisted way, as she is always wearing something ridiculously pimped out because it is "In," including stiletto heels that are actual stiletto knives.
Qilue in Silverfall by Ed Greenwood came to the masquerade (for some business, not to show off) in such "[un-]dress" that everyone automatically assumed it's a "princess" costume:
Simylra: a lady... and not quite naked. She's wearing some black leather straps—here and there, you know.note plus buttock-high boots with silver heel spikes and elbow-length gloves of the same material, plus a handful of two of silver and gems hanging from those straps They must bear some powerful spells; her disguise is nearly perfect. Cathlona: Her disguise? Simylra: A drow princess. ...Gods, how can anyone compete with that? Cathlona: (looking for herself) Simmy, either get me a drink—a very large drink—or let me go home... Dumathchess Ilchoas "the Dauntless": ...A woman, did you say? You mean you're not really a drow princess? Qilue: A drow princess? No...
"a gown of ivory samite and cloth-of-silver, lined with silvery satin, with long dagged sleeves that were almost touching the ground, the bodice slashed almost to the belly, the deep vee covered over with a panel of ornate Myrish lace in dove-grey, long and full skirts and very tight waist; tight slippers of soft grey doeskin; a costly maiden's cloak, meant for a wedding ceremony, made of velvet heavy with pearls, embroidered in silver, and fastened by a silver chain."
Parodied in a short story wherein a designer makes dresses so elaborate and ridiculous that they completely obscure the woman inside. At the end of the story, the men at a garden party start to notice that the women at the party are weirdly unresponsive, because they are just talking to empty dresses. It turns out that the women are all hanging out inside the house in their underwear..
In Mark Twain's "The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton" he gave a detailed description of the dress Rosannah was wearing when she first spoke to Alonzo (over the telephone), tongue-in-cheekishly calling it "subdued attire" in the paragraph which followed:
Her gown was of a simple magenta tulle, cut bias, traversed by three rows of light-blue flounces, with the selvage edges turned up with ashes-of-roses chenille, over-dress of dark bay tartalan with scarlet satin lambrequins; corn-colored polonaise, en panier, looped with mother-of-pearl buttons and silver cord, and hauled aft and made fast by buff velvet lashings; basque of lavender reps, picked out with valenciennes; low neck, short sleeves; maroon velvet necktie edged with delicate pink silk; inside handkerchief of some simple three-ply ingrain fabric of a soft saffron tint; coral bracelets and locket-chain; coiffure of forget-me-nots and lilies-of-the-valley massed around a noble calla.
Since Mistborn: The Original Trilogy has a bunch of Dances and Balls, the heroine wears a number of these at various points. Several get ruined during the first book when Vin gets attacked during the balls and has to rip off her dress to fight effectively. In the second and third books, she gets around that by finding a dressmaker who specifically makes dresses that aren't such a bother to fight in.