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Battle Ballgown

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Who says walking tanks can't be elegant?

"My slinky sorceress' robe will have a chain mail foundation garment, at minimum."
— Rule #7 on the Evil Empress Guide

A dress that is lightly to heavily armored, and thus would fit in both a social gala and an epic melee. The form of the dress can range from a frilly gown and petticoats also accessorized with armor and/or weapons, to basically a suit of armor with a skirt.

The point of this dress is a combination of Rule of Glamorous and Rule of Cool, as such an outfit will almost always be Impossibly Cool Clothes. In fact, skirts of armor such as mail or segmented plate were historically used (and mostly for men at that) as it was an easier way to protect the hips, buttocks, groin, and upper legs without restricting one's range of movement. The main differences from the examples in this article are that undivided skirts didn't often extend past the knees — at a certain point you'd need splits in front and back in order to mount a horse — and they would have avoided adding too much heavy fabric or low hems that could snag on the ground or trip up the feet.

Naturally the ladies wearing these kinds of dresses are almost always Action Girls, particularly Ladies Of War, Pretty Princess Powerhouses, or other tropes related to Silk Hiding Steel (although this trope makes the "hiding" moot). If any other girl ends up wearing this, expect her to fall over almost immediately, if she can even move.

A Sub-Trope of Pimped-Out Dress and Costume Porn. A Sister Trope to Lady Legionnaire Wear, Kicking Ass in All Her Finery.

Compare Stylish Protection Gear, Scary Impractical Armor, or Powered Armor. Contrast Chainmail Bikini, Stripperiffic.

Remember that this is an armored dress, not simply a fancy dress worn in battle; that's Kicking Ass in All Her Finery.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Matoi's exorcist ninja suit is an elaborate variation of the style of chainmail bodysuit Matsuri wears. It has an open back, a midsection with only "dress" flaps covering the underlayer, tight leggings, Combat Stilettos, High-Class Gloves, a sash attached to both gloves, and a fur neck wrap.
  • Downplayed with Noelle's Valkyrie Armor in Black Clover. Its literal romanization from Japanese is "Valkyrie Dress", and the skirt and wing-like ornaments add to the armor's feminine aesthetic without making it a full-on armored dress.
  • Tohka wears one in Date A Live. It is even called an "Astral Dress". here It changes when she taps here Superpowered Evil Side... but it still fits this trope.
  • Subaru wears this in-game in .hack//SIGN.
    • As do Terajima Ryoko in the quadilogy game, being Subaru's pallette swap. Ditto Kaochin.
  • In Fairy Tail, some of Erza's numerous outfits are like this.
  • Fate Series includes several examples
  • A Super Robot Power Armor version exist in Infinite Stratos in form of Uchigane, a Red Shirt training unit of sort. The shape is reminiscent of old-style Samurai Armor, but it has an extremely feminine design (with open top for Fanservice reasons). It's also listed as Defense/ Balance type.
  • Some of the Barrier Jackets (customizable magical armor suits) worn by female mages from the Lyrical Nanoha series. Take Signum, for example.
  • Asuna shows up wearing this in several Negima! Magister Negi Magi artworks soon after getting her artifact. Before long, she was wearing them in the series proper.
    • See also the Adriane Knights in the Magic World, and thus by extension Yue.
  • Log Horizon: Coppelia wears heavy plate armor that's specifically designed to look like a maid gown.
  • In Soul Eater, Maka and the rest of the cast initially change out of their formal gear during a Ballroom Blitz. However later, Maka converts the Black Blood into armour in the shape of a ballgown.

  • The woman depicted in Sandro Botticelli's Fortezza wears a plated armor underneath her robes.
  • Paintings of Joan of Arc often show her in armor with a skirt (even though one of the ways the English got her nailed for heresy was her insistence on wearing pants (both because of practicality of riding and to prevent rape while imprisoned).

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • At the end of Under the Bridge, Widget Hackwrench wears a wedding dress made of Kevlar. The fact that Widget is a mouse makes it even more remarkable.
  • The Lady Inquisitor receives one of these in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird. It's actually a set of armor made from dragonskin, but the design causes her to delightedly describe it as "a battledress."note 
  • The Winx Club Plays Dungeons and Dragons: Played for Laughs when Musa invokes this trope in relation to Stella’s angelic character, who is initially dressed in a yellow, Greek-like robe and only wears metallic bracelets and leg protections as armor.
    Musa: I am not gonna help you if you get shot in the boob.
    Stella: Ugh! [produces a collarbone-to-waist golden breastplate and metallic shoulder pads] This better?

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the Walden Media film version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the White Witch wears a breastplate and a chainmail dress to battle, along with Aslan's shorn mane.
    • The film version of Prince Caspian has Susan actively participating in more battles than the book, wearing chainmail, leather, and a long skirt, and making her a fully-fledged Lady of War.
  • Mary of Guise is shown wearing a fancy dress appropriate for a dowager queen under a sensible breastplate when she taunts the English after a battle in Elizabeth.
  • Ironclad: When the enemy gets inside the castle, Lady Isabel changes into an elegant and surely custom-made dress incorporating armor, wearing it into battle without even tying back her long hair. It's not a practical design, there's no explanation of who made it for her, and such a garment never existed; it's just pure Rule of Glamorous.

  • The Chronicles of Narnia mentions this trope in that Narnians don't really have a distinction between clothes you can look good in and clothes you can fight in.
  • In Elvenborn, the protagonist's mother has a dress made of a million bazillion tiny metal plates with diamonds over them. Though she isn't shown fighting in it, it is implied to be very old and comes from a dangerous time. The protagonist, who is a military expert, theorizes that "it could turn a blade."
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset: The eponymous steel corset is to be worn under a fancy dress, and it doubles as light armor.
    A steel corset—thin, shiny bands with embossed flowers and leaves, held together with tiny hinges to allow ease of movement. Little gears and other decorative pieces of steel were soldered over some of the larger gaps between bands. The garment looked like an industrial metal flower garden. "The spaces are small enough that bullets and most blades won't be able to get through, and if someone hits you the bounder's going to break a knuckle or two."
  • Heralds of Valdemar: In Queen's Own, Talia wears a formal outfit to Elspeth's investiture as Heir that looks elegant, but has been subtly modified so that she could fight in it, and has several concealed weapons.
  • Honor Harrington's tunics and tabards are made of a material with (limited) anti-ballistic properties. Mostly because Nimitz likes to ride on her shoulder and his claws would shred any lesser material. It has saved her life on one occasion, and her bodyguard's comfort in knowing she wears them is repeatedly mentioned.
  • In the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, the main character, Vin, is fitted for ball gowns that are designed to allow for a range of motion, silent movement, and with hidden pockets. She still prefers not to have to fight in them, since they tend to wind up destroyed if she does, but being Crazy-Prepared she's just more comfortable if she has the option open.
  • In The Rise of Kyoshi, Kyoshi herself wears a long elegant dress with chainmail lining the inside.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Queen's Shadow explains that all the dresses worn by the queens of Naboo are at the very least treated with resin to make them blaster-resistant. There are also other forms of armour hidden inside the dress as much as possible, and jewelled brooches concealing recording devices or personal shields. Padmé continues to wear the same kind of clothing when she becomes a senator.
  • In "The Sleeping Beauty" of the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, the princess wears dresses with plated corsets, leather collars, and special pockets for weapons.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Nynaeve, in a moment of insecurity in Tel'aran'rhiod (a place where clothing can change at a whim), wears an impossible dress made of armor plating.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Cersei has a gown with a plate of metal in it as armor, which she sports in the last half of "Blackwater", although it's abundantly clear that it's all just for show.
  • The White Queen: Margaret of Anjou wears a brown breastplate over her dress when leading an army to conquer England.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena's wedding dress in "Soul Possession" was both stylish, practical and pretty damn cool.

  • From Infinity Game most of the female warrior NPCs from the previous game had this as a uniform, such as D.D. who still wears hers in combat.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Greek Athena is typically depicted as wearing a helmet (as a cap so that it doesn't obscure her head) and a varying amount of armor over her dress.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the art for the Everquest pen & paper RPG book, the studded leather armor is drawn like an armored dress.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, the "glamered" enchantment allows armor to appear as normal clothing, which can be used to achieve this effect.
  • Exalted has the artifact silken armor. It's ordinary clothing made out of a magical silk that offers the protection of light armor, allowing for this look.
  • In Unhallowed Metropolis Mourners wear mourning garments that have been styled to include battle corsets (armored), and pocket-slits in the skirt part for drawing their blades.
  • Bujinki Amaterasu, of the Bujin archetype in the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG is wearing Bujingi Peacock as a skirt, and she has the highest attack out of the Bujin.

    Video Games 
  • Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City: The Hoplite class, pictured above, wears dresses that are loaded with armor plating. Comparably, the Princess class has a lighter armor dress, with tiaras, frills, and fur trim paired with metal boots, gauntlets, and one dress with a breastplate.
  • Chris Lightfellow of Suikoden III wears armor with a skirt.
  • Vanillaware often uses this design for female fighters, especially those with heavy armor.
  • Soulcalibur IV, Ashlotte's outfit.
    • Soul Calibur III offered this as an option for female-created fighters, whether mix-and-match or complete armoured outfit.
  • Wild ARMs XF has Alexia, who wears a Pimped-Out Dress accessorized with plate mail into battle.
  • Samurai Shodown's Charlotte goes tank on top, skirt on bottom.
  • Touhou Project has Yukari Yakumo. While her battle dress looks normal, Hong Meiling's victory quote against her implies that Yukari has some sort of armor underneath her gown, saying "I felt some odd resistance. What are you wearing underneath your clothes?" Being both a supernatural being and a Reality Warper, it could very well be that Yukari's skin and/or bones are incredibly tough, so much so that it feels as hard as armor.
  • Most of the armor sets for the female avatars in the Monster Hunter games are either this or Stripperiffic(a few have managed to be both). One of the most famous examples is the Rathian (Blademaster) set.
  • Mabinogi features several sets of female armour that qualify as this, with skirts ranging from knee-length to full-length, like Leminia's Holy Moon Armor for female characters. It's pretty much the male version with a skirt and is the most expensive armor buyable from NPCs.
  • In Chrono Trigger, the Prism Dress is the strongest armour, and can only be worn by women.
  • Lenneth, Hrist, and Silmeria from the Valkyrie Profile series all have outfits that fit this trope.
  • Special mention goes to Dark Souls. While there are "gown"-looking armor in the game, there's usually no reason to equip it except for the (now-patched and nerfed) Antiquated Skirt, which has disproportionately high defense compared to the rest of the set. Coupled with real armor for the upper body and a female character, and you have this trope.
  • Dark Souls II:
    • Alva's Set plays this straight to a tee, it's a knight armor with a red skirt. Unlike most examples, not only it can be worn by both gender, Alva, the owner of this armor was male.
    • The Throne Watcher, one of the final bosses of the vanilla game, has a long, white armored dress/overcoat that fits even better. Her set can be acquired and for fashion purposes, it goes with almost anything.
  • Sengoku Rance has Uesugi Kenshin, who wore her kacchu styled Japanese armor over her hakama/gii and a hat.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia gives the heroine Shanoa the option of wearing either heavy armor or dresses into battle. The armor usually has the higher defense, but the dresses tend to increase other stats in addition to defense. Her standard outfit is a high-slit Sexy Backless Outfit, a sturdy breastplate, and plated thigh-high boots.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, characters can reproduce this effect by wearing their armor with a robe or skirt, which will hang out over any trousers or leg armor.
  • In the Japan-exclusive game Sigma Harmonics, one of Neon's possessions has her wearing one of these. With multiple swords built into the dress.
  • Fire Emblem has some rather recent examples:
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening introduced the War Cleric class, a female-only class that promotes from the standard Cleric and Troubadour classes. The outfit War Clerics wear consists of a normal dress covered with leather armor, gauntlets, a helmet, and a metal farthingale-like structure around the skirt.
    • The Shrine Maidens and Priestesses from Fire Emblem Fates wear outfits that look like a cross between this trope and traditional miko robes. It's further empathized with Princess Sakura's unique models.
    • In Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the women in the Saint class wear long and puffy dresses plus breastplates to battle. Their Over Class/Promotion, the Exemplar, exaggerate the trope by adding a Badass Cape and a golden shield.
    • In Fire Emblem Engage, Princess Céline wears an actual ballgown when going into battle, although one with an open front for ease of movement. Marni takes this to an humorous extent, going to war in what appears to be a lolita-style dress covered in frills and ribbons, despite belonging to the heavily armored General class... until a closer look reveals that most of the dress and cute decorations are actually solid metal. Even her tower shield is shaped to look like it's got big pink bows on it.
  • Lady Aribeth de Tylmarande in Never Winter Nights wears an ankle-length long skirt over her armor, tucked under her breastplate to give this appearance. However, this is only in character portraits, promotional art, and cutscenes, her in-game model lacks this long skirt and shows her armored boots and greaves which would otherwise be underneath it.
  • Some of Refia's outfits in Final Fantasy III, like the Knight and Dragoon, have a short skirt attached to the armor, perhaps to set her apart from her male companions.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, some of the generic female job classes have this look, particularly heavily armored classes like the Knight and Dragoon.
  • Fate/Grand Order has too many examples to list, from those appearing in other works like Mordred and Artoria, to newcomers like Tomoe Gozen.
  • Tactics Ogre, at least in the 2011 re-imagining of Let Us Cling Together, features this geddup for its female knights.
  • Fallout: New Vegas DLC 'Dead Money' introduces Vera's dress. An armour rating of 2 is nothing to boast about when you have access to 18 to 25 later on, but it's still an armoured Little Black Dress. With the right build (and accessories), you can have a very satisfying time assaulting Caesar's Legion wearing this thing.
  • Fallout 4 allows ballistic weave to be applied to some clothing including various sequined dresses. The weave makes the dress much more effective than most of the armor in the game and puts the wearer into high heels in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
  • Some of the higher level tank armor sets in Final Fantasy XIV qualify as unisex Battle Ballgowns - such as the Valerian Terror Knight's set, or the Orthodox Fending set, combining heavy armor plating with long, flowing skirts.
  • Phoebe from Battleborn a high-tech yet fashionable gown into battle that both aids her and makes her look fabulous.
  • Princess Zelda in Hyrule Warriors is an active playable character and as such an active combatant. As such, augments her usual elegant princess dress with plate gauntlets and greaves. See for yourself.
  • The Taken Shape is the best armor available in Dragon Age: Inquisition, although it's only found in the Trespasser DLC. It's probably not intended to be this since it can be worn by literally any character regardless of gender or race, but the nature of the design gives it a distinctly dress-like appearance.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a variant of this trope. Many NPCs wear unarmored pants in their leg armor slot, even if their other slots are occupied by actual armored pieces of equipment. On female characters, those pants are rendered as a long skirt, making them look exactly like women wearing an armor including a gown.
  • World of Warcraft: a great number of (plate) Paladin and (mail) Shaman armor sets fit the bill, the Judgement Armor being one of the first and most well-known examples in the game. Since the end of Cataclysm, it's possible for players to give pieces of gear the appearance of said armor sets, via transmogrification.

    Visual Novels 
  • Saber of Fate/stay night has a regular Pimped-Out Dress, but when she heads into battle she adds an armor overdress to it.
  • All 6 contestants in the Princess Waltz, whose dresses (being comprised of magic and being of varying designs) are their armor. Particular note goes to Angela, who flawlessly accents her dress with a breastplate.


    Western Animation 
  • The Kyoshi Warriors' uniforms from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The outfits they were are meant to resemble the garb of Avatar Kyoshi.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Groundskeeper Willie explains that traditional Scots garb in battle was not the iconic tartan kilt, but rather full-length ballgowns covered with sequins.
  • Steven Universe: Rose Quartz often wore a pale pink Pimped-Out Dress both on and off the battlefield. It wasn't armored, but that's justified in that, as a Gem, she could take a lot more physical punishment than a human. She was also secretly Pink Diamond, and was one of the hardest Gems to poof (injure).

    Real Life 
  • The Lorica Segmentata of The Roman Empire is a segmented armor placed on a red tunic, soft on the inside and hard on the outside. Being a tunic, it is already skirt-like even without the armor pieces.
  • The Surcoat is a cloth piece placed on chainmail; it covers the metal parts from sunlight to prevent burning (it was especially useful for Crusaders), as well as being decorative.
  • Many regnant queens in Medieval Europe wore these at some point or another. As monarchs, their presence on the battlefield with armor on like their men was a great popularity boost and inspiration for the troops, but not wearing female clothing under (i.e. dresses) would have been a scandal. The problems derived from fighting with long skirts that could be easily grabbed and used to throw them off a horse weren't such because they never got into combat proper anyway.
  • Lady Gaga wore a red and black dress at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The dress itself was lined with bulletproof fabric and is a very modern example of an armored dress.