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Ermine Cape Effect

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"What do you mean I'm not properly dressed for this job?
I've got the hat, haven't I?"
Mort: I'd quite like to see a real king. They wear crowns all the time, my granny said. Even when they go to the lavatory.

Royalty and nobility always wear and have their Requisite Royal Regalia. Always. This may include a crown, fur-trimmed cape, sceptre, ring, and throne. These items are part of the ritual of symbols that adds pomp and formality to the royal person's appearance.

In Real Life, in many places it was a requirement for people in certain positions to always appear "in state" whenever they went out in public. That meant dressing like this — "in state" refers to whatever symbols and accessories were associated with the position. This could mean, for example, a crown, for kings and queens, or the red robes of cardinals ("princes" of the Catholic church). Formal dress is designed to do to the human eye what trumpet Fanfares do to the ear. (You'll still hear the phrase "in state" used when an important person dies. Often, the body will "lie in state" for the public to pay their respects).

The Ermine Cape Effect does not require an ermine cape, or even the fur of the ermine. The ermine cape is so common, and such a clear sign of royal or noble status, this trope is named for it. What it does require is that if, say, a young countess is wearing something like an ermine cape, she is wearing it even while doing activities which would be impractical in that garment, but it works just fine.

This effect is deliberate, which is why it is used even by writers who know it doesn't hold in Real Life. It just doesn't seem right if the king dresses like a slob while he is being his royal self. How can you put your faith in the divine right to rule when the king walks around in a tattered bathrobe and fuzzy slippers? No, the king must create the image of majesty whenever possible.

So, any time a lot of commoners would get a good look at the king or queen, either through a public appearance or a portrait that would last for ages to come, the royals and nobles put on the works. Just browse around The Other Wiki for European nobility and royalty.

This leads some to believe being royalty is primarily about wearing pretty clothes. It is a major factor in the mysterious appeal princesses have. This is also why the Rebellious Princess will get rid of her fancy clothes when she is rebelling — she is trying to reject her status, and go unrecognized if this is desired (if people think of the princess as her regalia more than her face). Yet these new commoner clothes somehow become more beautiful, especially if the wearer is Princess Classic.

Because royalty often hold military ranks (earned or honorary), this can overlap with Bling of War.

With royalty becoming less distant these days, this is largely becoming a Discredited Trope, save for nations that still have absolute monarchies. Tragically, in most modern European monarchies such as Monaco and Britain, the royalty seems to generally favor the Western suit-and-tie businessman look (although one certainly cannot deny that those suits are very often very sharp),note  as do the Japanese Emperor, the King of Jordan, and the King of Morocco (although he'll occasionally don a traditional djellaba). In the Gulf Arab monarchies, the custom is to wear traditional dress (which even when luxurious looks surprisingly plain and simple for a region famous for Conspicuous Consumption), although the ambassador to a Western country might wear a suit. The kings of Bhutan and Cambodia generally wear traditional dress, while the King of Thailand seems to prefer his blinged-out military uniform.

In fiction, this means that any royalty is as likely as not to wear fancy clothes as everyday wear, no matter how impractical, although it is rarer these days. Is still commonly seen in Decadent Courts.

It should be noted that even when an ermine cape is worn, this trope rarely overlaps with Fur and Loathing.

Wearing one's hair in Regal Ringlets style, or its Japanese derivation Ojou Ringlets, can be a subtler form of this.

When a royal person wears otherwise unassuming clothes but retains a crown or similar garment to mark them as royalty for the viewer (even when it doesn't make sense in-universe), this is Dress-Coded for Your Convenience instead. To tell them apart, check if other characters who don't already know the character is royalty notice the regalia.

Now although this trope is strictly about royalty and nobility, it should be noted that anyone who could afford to have his or her portrait painted would put on the works. Even the poorest naval clerk and his wife begged or borrowed the fanciest outfits they could find because it was Just Not Done to sit for your portrait wearing your day clothes. In medieval times people rich enough would probably wear the most expensive and ostentatious thing they could manage as much as was possible, as you were expected, even required, to maintain your place in society by proving you belonged there through displays of wealth.

Sister Tropes, all of which this trope makes use of, include:

Compare 24-Hour Armor, Hollywood Costuming, Kicking Ass in All Her Finery.

Contrast Royals Who Actually Do Something, Modest Royalty, Impoverished Patrician, Simple, yet Opulent.

Compare/Contrast Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Rose of Versailles and Le Chevalier d'Eon follow this trope mainly due to Limited Wardrobe. Literally the only sign the royalty was showing off for ceremony was an ermine cape over the clothes they constantly wore anyway (save for an ermine-trimmed dress Marie Antoinette wore just before she arrived in France).
  • Gundam:
    • Averted in Mobile Fighter G Gundam, where Princess Marie Louise can be seen in normal clothes quite often.
    • Relena from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing zig-zags this; during the period where she's Princess of her own nation, she swaps between a fancy Victorian outfit and the same school uniform worn by the students she teaches. When she gets made Queen of the World by Romefeller she's only ever seen in the same dress, but this could be seen as an Enforced Trope since she's supposed to be a figurehead.
  • The Five Star Stories gets this one right, too. While the androgynous God-King Amaterasu is known for making public appearances wearing unbelievably elaborate costumes, when he's hanging out with his closest associates at his floating palace it's not uncommon for him to be seen in nothing more than jeans & a wifebeater. In fact, most characters who are expected to wear some sort of regalia at formal events are rarely seen in it the rest of the time, & sometimes they even neglect to wear it when they're supposed to. One particularly memorable example is when Sir Voards shows up at a banquet in cargo pants & a black t-shirt.
  • In Code Geass, the Britannian royal family (excepting Cornelia since she wears something more like military dress) are always dressed in this way. Interestingly, in the final episode's flash forward to the happy future , Schneizel is shown wearing what looks pretty much like a normal business suit, though that could be because he's now serving Suzaku and no longer part of the imperial family.
  • Averted in Howl's Moving Castle - the king shows up wearing a relatively basic military dress uniform.
  • Even in her uniform or jumpsuit, Princess Fala (Allura) of GoLion (Voltron) still wears her dainty crown.
  • Somewhat averted in Tears to Tiara. Arthur only wears a full red ermine cape and crown during his coronation in the last episode. But the fact that he wears a fluffy fur collar as part of his outfit for the entire series hints that this coronation would be coming. Also, his name and any basic knowledge of mythology.
  • Subverted in One Piece. King Cobra Nefertari invites the Strawhat crew to his bathhouse, where he bows deeply to them and thanks them for all they've done. His aide, Igaram, tries to stop him, as "a king should not bow his head to anyone," but Cobra responds, "Power is worn over clothes; a king is never naked."
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Hetalia makes the genderbent version of Liechtenstein wear a crown and cape over his regular clothes.
    • Hutt River is shown wearing his purple cape, which makes Sealand proclaim him to be an important person.
  • In Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, the King and Queen chess pieces on both sides of an erotic chess game (consisting entirely of women) wear ermine capes over their otherwise very revealing outfits.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1 & Sensation Comics: During the Golden Age Diana was constantly fighting or saving various princesses and queens, frequently from other hidden magical civilizations like her own people or from other planets, and every single one of them besides Maru/Dr. Poison constantly wore some kind of crown usually paired with other elements of their regalia. Diana and her mother are no exception.
  • King Smurf of The Smurfs comic book story of the same name (and its Animated Adaptation) wears both a crown and an ermine-styled red cape along with his gold-colored suit when he makes his entry into the castle that the Smurfs had built for him by his order. He wears this up until the rebel Smurfs demand him to surrender, at which point he ditches the crown and cape and wears a Roman warrior-styled Smurf hat in its place.

    Comic Strips 
  • Alley Oop: Guz, king of Moo, always wears his crown – a simple one that could fit in his mouth.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Queen of Hearts, Queen Elsa always wears her crown in public. The day she forgets her crown and opts to have breakfast with Hans' brothers without her crown, it's very unusual. Elsa had a bad night after finding out that she might be a Chocolate Baby, so the next morning she's too disheveled to do anything but dress in the bare minimum.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen: This trope is mostly averted.
    • Princess Anna does have a Pimped-Out Dress—but it's solely for a coronation and the following formal ball, and she changes out of it at Wandering Oaken's Trading Post & Sauna. Her other dresses are nice, but not elaborate.
    • Queen Elsa's ice dress is gorgeous but it's not terribly formal. Like Anna, she does dress-up sometimes, but usually only when the occasion calls for it, such as for Anna's birthday in "Frozen Fever" (though even then it was just a relatively simple summer dress makeover, turning her ice dress green and also adorning it with flowers) and her extravagant Christmas dress in "Olaf's Frozen Adventure". She's only seen with her Requisite Royal Regalia, including her crown, on her coronation day. In Expanded Universe material, including tie-in comics and books such as Anna & Elsa, she almost always wears her signature blue ice dress, be it for formal occasions or just walking around town.
    • Although it is played straight by their parents, who are shown to be grandly dressed whenever they're on screen (even if their first scene has them being woken in the middle of the night). They're also shown grandly dressed during a night-time scene in Frozen II.
    • Frozen II shows Elsa wearing a Simple, yet Opulent purple dress and a violet nightgown. When she, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf set out from Arendelle, she refines her ice dress into something still striking, but not clearly regal, with leggings under her dress and a longcoat. Meanwhile, Anna sports Sami-based attire at several points and wears a green nightgown during family game night. None of these looks include crowns or other Requisite Royal Regalia. The only time we see a crown is in the epilogue, when Anna attends a formal event in her new capacity as queen.
  • In My Little Pony: A New Generation, Queen Haven initially wore her crown all the time, even in unusual circumstances, from showering to taking a dive in the swimming pool. After she escaped the dungeon after her subjects dethroning her and ended up outside of Bridlewood, she appears sans crown.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, the fairies put Aurora in her fancy ballgown after they tell her she's really the princess - even though they have her walk to the castle through the woods while wearing it. Presumably this trope is the reason she doesn't just wear her peasant dress while walking to the palace, and change once she's there.
  • All the Disney Princesses will wear a fancy gown or two in their movies, like Belle's apparently gold lamé dress (either that or it had a really good dye job, which would also cost a lot of money in those days), but in The Merch, those gowns are worn all the time, and sometimes they have dresses that are even fancier versions of those. This seems to have something of a justification at Disneyland. Belle can come out in her peasant garb (which she wears for the vast majority of the film) and be completely ignored by guests, then come back out in her gold dress and get mobbed. Many guests seem to be unable to recognize the princesses without their regalia. Jasmine gets hit the hardest by this trope. In the movie, she wore: her princess quasi-harem outfit; her slave outfit (the same thing only red, with a bigger tiara and tighter pony-tail), her "common" outfit which consists of a hooded robe over her princess outfit; and the more "formal" outfit when she's flying off with Aladdin at the end, a pinkish affair that has shoulders and finally covers her midriff and has a cape. Her standard blue will be shown fairly often, occasionally the "formal" attire from the end, but in at least half the books/cards/bags/whatever, she's depicted wearing a very European style dress not found anywhere in the movies or TV show.
  • Parodied on Shrek the Third. Shrek and Fiona are forced to wear ridiculously confining finery for a ceremonial dinner. Shrek has to get some poor servant to scratch his bum for him... and wouldn't you know it, that's when the curtain is raised. To top it off, the buckle on his belt pops, leading to Disaster Dominoes.
  • Played with in The Swan Princess:
    • Odette spends a lot of the movie wearing a fancy gown...because she was kidnapped while wearing it. She was in the middle of travelling when she was kidnapped and the dress is more suited to the palace visit she first donned it for (unless she left immediately after turning down Derek's proposal and thus didn't make time to change). The sequels avert this by giving her a much simpler outfit that's worn whenever she's doing more down at the heels work.
    • Derek has two outfits - one which he wears for most of the movie (including hunting and archery practice) and another for formal occasions. He fights the villain wearing the latter...because he ran out of the ball as soon as he realised what was happening.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Films in The Golden Age of Hollywood were rife with this trope, such as the movie Diane. Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici walk around in dresses far more extravagant than they would have worn normally. It gets to the point that the queen is sitting for a portrait, and Diane shows up from out of town in a dress just as fancy.
  • In The Lost King, the ghost of Richard III appears wearing an ermine-trimmed cape, that is, when he is not wearing his armor.
  • George II in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
  • The Other Boleyn Girl is a clear contrast. Anne and Mary's dresses are fancy but far simpler than those worn for portraits or ceremony. Henry also doesn't really show off his everyday clothes, save for a few fur collars on his gowns (which is what those jackets were called at the time).
  • The Queen inverts this and instead goes with Elizabeth II's affection for big raincoats and wellies. Although in Real Life that has been Flanderised by the press, she's still made no secret of her dislike for dressing up in the full regalia. Mostly because it's very heavy; for instance, the royal crown apparently is so heavy that it will give the wearer a headache if it is worn for too long.
  • The Queen of Naboo in Star Wars always seems to be wearing some ridiculously complex outfit, each item of which is supposed to represent something from Naboo's history. The useful consequence is that she is completely unrecognizable in plain clothes and she uses this to go incognito as one of her handmaidens. This does mean some poor woman might be the target of any assassinations.
  • The eponymous heroine of That Lady in Ermine wears nothing but an ermine coat, save for one scene.
  • Lampshaded in A Royal Night Out. Margaret is about to go out on the town apparently 'incognito' - only for one of the guards to point out that she probably shouldn't go out wearing her tiara. Even so, earlier in the film when the princesses were casually lounging around the palace, Margaret is dressed in casual 40s wear and Elizabeth is in her military uniform.
  • Averted in the The Chronicles of Narnia film adaptations. When the Pevensies change out of their civvies into Narnian clothes, a distinctive difference is shown between those worn in the camp and those at the coronation. The coronation outfits are much more elaborate and fancy.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: In the prologue, En Sabah Nur and his Four Horsemen are decked in elaborate gold headdresses and fancy robes as they head towards the pyramid surrounded by rows of peasants bowing to them.

  • This practice was given something of a Shout-Out in the book Snake Agent by Liz Williams. High-ranking demons in hell got to wear beautiful cloaks of human skin, so finely made one could count the capillaries, topped off with blond human hair where humans would wear ermine.
  • Discworld:
    • Lords and Ladies parodies this two ways. Verence gets along with a shirt and trousers with his arse hanging out of the top. His fiancée (later wife), Magrat's, clothes however are depicted as insanely convoluted with all manner of bodices and corsets and whatnot. Now this may be, as the books says, simply the way round things happen. Or it may be that Verence made another mistake by over-reliance on the knowledge in books.
    • Lampshaded and averted in other books in the series: Sam Vimes refuses flat-out to wear most of the traditional symbols of Ankh-Morpork nobility, tights especially—though his wife forces him to nonetheless when he's appearing in his capacity as "The Duke". The rest of the time, he wears his Watch uniform, and she wears boots and tweed, being rich enough not to have to look rich. His job (Commander of the Watch) and her hobbies (breeding dragons) carrying a near-certainty of daily Clothing Damage may also have something to do with it.
      • Played especially straight in regards to Vimes' boots. He could wear huge thick boots designed to last several generations, but goes with the cheapest ones he can find, not out of stinginess but because he's patrolled the city for so long he can tell where he is by the type of cobblestones he's standing on (if the sole is thin enough).
  • The autocratic Governor of The General Series wears about twenty pounds of gold embroidery every time he gets out of bed and the dress uniform of the Governor's Guard makes hero Raj Whitehall feel like a revue dancer.
  • The Flashman book Flashman and the Great Game references this at the beginning when Flashman is invited to Balmoral by Queen Victoria. He comments how she was one of the first monarchs to be open about not always wearing royal clothing most of the time, but instead dressing like a typical (upper class) housewife (although in this case she is dressed in Scottish clothing). This trend has continued to the present to the point that it is actually difficult (at least for Americans) to think of any occasion on which Queen Elizabeth II wore a crown and jewelry.
  • Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV in the Dune miniseries wears very elaborate outfits even when he's just working in his study or meeting with his advisors. This is different from the book, where Shaddam preferred to wear an ordinary Sardaukar officer's uniform with no decoration other than a silver helmet even at official state functions. This was stated to not have been the traditional formal dress, however, merely being an affectation of Shaddam, as he felt that his power was based entirely upon the fear of the dreaded Sardaukar.
    • In the prologue to Dune (1984), José Ferrer flamboyantly shrugs off his cape before meeting with the Navigator. He wears standard military attire in all other scenes.
    • Male monarchs usually wore their military uniforms with varying degrees of embellishment (Wilhelm II of Germany and Nicholas II of Russia wore uniforms studded with medals despite never being in combat, whereas Franz Josef and Karl of Austria wore considerably less elaborate ones) from the 18th century until after World War One.
  • In James Thurber's The 13 Clocks, Prince Zorn disguises himself as a minstrel, but the wicked duke has a spy find his clothing, which shows he's a prince, and then insists that the prince wear it.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, completely inverted. Antoni's official portrait is stowed away because she thought it made her look too glamorous.
  • Averted in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar novels. While the monarchs of Valdemar do have formal gowns and a crown for extraordinary court occasions, normally they dress in a more expensive and slightly less practical version of Herald day uniforms — the most notable difference being that a queen will wear a divided skirt instead of trousers. And the official Crown of Valdemar stays firmly locked in the treasury until the rare occasions it's needed, with a thin (comfortable!) gold circlet substituting most of the time.
  • Rhian uses this a lot in different situations in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy. She wears jewels and brocades as well as hunting leathers when she needs to kill people who don't like her.
  • Sansa from A Song of Ice and Fire. Nearly every description of the clothing of the other courtiers by her is described this way. Justified because she apparently views the world this way. Rarely are clothes "simple".
  • Inverted in The Kestrel, the second book of Alexander Lloyd's Westmark trilogy. When the prince of the invading army is captured he goes completely unrecognised because he insists on wearing the uniform of a common soldier, having earned nothing more.
  • In the second book of Mistborn, a Terris Keeper comes to help Elend with just this problem, as no one takes him seriously as king because he's a slob who cares more about governmental theory than dressing nice. The keeper forces him to learn that in order to earn the respect he deserves as king that he must play the part. As he puts her lessons into practice, it works.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy this is used to contrast the constantly blinged-out Calormene nobility with the simpler-dressed (yet somehow still more regal) Narnians. Finally it is averted with King Lune appearing in everyday clothes.
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, the ship crew (who conquered the earth when they brought back antimatter) always wear an imitation spacesuit, in special cloth, and a bracelet of red.
  • Theodora in Belisarius Series is never seen without her regalia. Justified in that she was once a street girl and wants to assure herself that she can Never Be Hurt Again.
  • Alys Vorpatril in Vorkosigan Saga is the expert on this for the Barrayaran court.
    • Emperor Gregor is noted to wear different clothing based on his needs at the moment. If he wants to make a deal, he'll probably wear a politician's business suit. If he's acting mainly as Count Vorbarra, he wears his house livery. Commander-In-Chief? Service dress greens.
  • Discussed in The Malloreon when Emperor Kal Zakath, absolute ruler of half the world, leaves the Requisite Royal Regalia behind and spends an afternoon riding through his own capital city without being noticed. He tells his companions that without them, he's "just a man in a linen shirt", even though his face is on all the coins.
  • Mentioned and exploited in the Mary Tudor POV novel Mary, Bloody Mary. Mary mentions that she doesn't care for the glittering jewels or finery, and often goes without them at court. At one point she's wearing a rather plain dress with no ornaments and is able to eavesdrop on a group of female courtiers — who assume that the girl kneeling by the fire is just a servant, rather than the princess.
  • Averted in A Tale of... the Wicked Queen. Unlike in the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it's shown that Snow White and her parents don't usually dress formally. The Queen dresses up the most but that is simply personal preference. At his wedding, the King actually wore his military uniform.
  • Memoirs of a Geisha: Hatsumomo is constantly seen dressed up, with full make-up and hair in ornaments. In this case, it's said that her vanity wouldn't allow anyone to see her dressed down. Sayuri only sees her hair down when she departs the okiya in disgrace.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted, then played straight in the The Beverly Hillbillies episode "His Royal Highness." The deposed king is at first dressed in an ordinary suit. This is much to Jethro's disappointment ("He doesn't look like the kings in my Big Blue Book of Fairy Tales"). Later, on Mr. Drysdale's suggestion, he dresses up in ermine cape and crown to court Elly May. Elly May rejects him as she doesn't take kindly to him putting on airs.
  • Averted in Downton Abbey. It is noticeable that, while the girls dress up for formal dinners and all of their clothing is fancy, they have simple, practical outfits for daily wear, plus hunting regalia. Although hunting gear and riding tweeds were a form of this at the time, albeit a more practical form. Only the very wealthy would need them, after all.
  • The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg (aka Power Rangers IN MYTHOLOGICAL IRELAND) really fell for this by trying to deconstruct this trope, by commenting on how as royalty, they'd spend all their time getting in and out of their clothes. Since that is a comment on the illusion and not the reality, it's actually a misaimed deconstruction.
  • Two subversions in one in Babylon 5, in which Emperor Cartagia abandons the traditionally impractical clothes and hair of royalty in favour of something (relatively, we are talking about the Centauri) quiet and practical. The second subversion is that this is traditionally a trait of sympathetic Royals Who Actually Do Something who are Nice to the Waiter, whereas Cartagia is a megalomaniacal sadistic psychopath of planet-threatening proportions.
    • Played straight by Delenn though not to the point of impracticality. Not unreasonable as she is an Ambadassador and a Badass Satai.
  • Sort of subverted/modernized on Kings, where the royal couple, despite being an absolute monarch and his wife, dressed as one would expect a real-life modern U.S. President and First Lady to dress.
    • This is played somewhat straight with their son, Jack, who despite wearing a suit on most occasions, always seems to be wearing one made out of some kind of very shiny and very gorgeous-looking fabric.
  • Played with on The Kingdom Of Paramithi: The king and queen only wear their robes for their royal duties. They will otherwise be shown wearing formal attire.
  • An ecclesiastical variation in Father Ted: whenever a bishop is shown they're always "bishoped to the nines" (as described by writer Graham Linehan). In reality, Roman Catholic bishops wear clothing similar to the average priest when not taking part in services.
  • Merlin:
    • Morgana continues to wear her elaborate finery even when she regularly sneaks out into the woods to see Morgause, only covered by a light travelling cloak.
    • Played with in one episode where Gwen gets kidnapped and passed off as Morgana. As the latter's personal attendant, her dress is less grand than Morgana's finery but presumably doesn't tip the kidnapper off.
    • Morgause doesn't have the powers of teleportation, but she's always able to sneak into Camelot wearing a fancy gown. She even somehow packed one in her debut episode when she walked in wearing men's armor.
    • Also played straight with Princess Mithian, who arrives in Camelot wearing what is frankly a massive white ermine coat and crown-like headband. If that does not say "princess"...
  • Zigzagged in Once Upon a Time. It is literally a fairy tale world, after all.
    • King Leopold walking around on the beach in fine silks and furs in one episode, with his crown on his head.
    • In "Skin Deep" Belle spends a couple of flashbacks wearing her gold ballgown when she is imprisoned in Rumplestiltskin's castle - even being implied to do a few chores in it. It's not until later that she changes into something more practical.
    • Elsewhere averted when Princess Abigail helps Charming escape the kingdom - she's wearing practical travel clothes. Also Snow White wears a more practical outfit in the war against Regina.
    • The Camelot season also shows Guinevere wearing fancy gowns when at court, but more practical casual clothes when on a mission that takes her into the wilderness.
  • Brazilian telenovela Caminho das Índias (which translates, roughly, as "The Road to India" and is set partially in Rajasthan) got some flak for unrealistically having its Indian characters always wearing fancy, colorful, "Indian-looking" clothes, that are in real life only used in special events. It would be roughly equivalent to portraying Brazilian women as always wearing Carnaval attire in their daily lives.
  • Charmed's episode "A Knight To Remember" features Paige's medieval past life. The prince goes to see the Evil Enchantress wearing his full suit of armor, while his fiancee is wearing a very grand-looking gown (she was admittedly summoned in a hurry). The Evil Enchantress shows that she wants to be queen by wearing a grand medieval gown throughout the whole episode. Presumably as she can rely on her magic, she doesn't care about mobility.

  • The French play Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo was criticized for having the Queen in full regalia when she confessed her love to the titular character. Since it was a climax, he got away by invoking the Rule of Cool.
  • The 2009 revival of Exit The King plays around with this a lot— the three royal characters wear fur capes so ludicrously long that they become physical comedy props.
  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto — the older characters, almost all of whom are cardinals in the corrupt and decadent Renaissance church, have this when not in their red robes (which are pretty luxurious themselves). Rodrigo Borgia is the most fabulous with it, wearing fur and a golden collar. The younger generation are 16 years old and in school, but they are aware that how they present themselves even there will have an effect on the reputations of their families and their home countries, so they dress up too — Giovanni's silk robes have sleeves that almost touch the floor, and Cesare wears jackets that are obviously quite fine and detailed even in solid black. Likewise, the students insist on use of titles for the sake of reputation.
  • Averted in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead — in the film version the Queen's already pulling off her fancy earrings after the royal audience is over and preparing to put on more serviceable day-wear (for medieval times, anyway).
  • Used twice in King Charles III, when the members of the royal family are trying to look exceptionally royal.
    • Attempted by Prince Charles when he moves to dismiss the members of Parliament - he's wearing a very large ermine cape & fancy crown, and wielding a scepter.
    • And again at the coronation — the capes worn by William and Catherine are several meters long, and require an attendant to carry them into the church. (Though the actual length varies depending on which production one has seen, the effect is meant to be the same.)

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Unless it's an absolute emergency, Zelda always wear royal dresses, even when in hand to hand combat. She dresses to the nines even when she's just hanging around town in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap or in the royal gardens as a child in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Even when a ghost, Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks wears her regalia. There are very few exceptions, such as when she was disguising herself to hide in Ocarina Of Time, or a descendant who doesn't even realize she's a princess in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Averted in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as she wears royal dresses at ceremonies, and pants and boots when traveling around Hyrule.
  • Princess Peach and Princess Daisy almost always wear their royal attire in Super Mario Bros. If they're not, then they're probably playing golf or soccer or something. Peach does occasionally wear a less puffy dress though, such as her vacation/warm weather dress in Super Mario Sunshine. In the post-game quest of Super Mario Odyssey, Peach fully averts this, as on her vacation to the various kingdoms, she wears various attire appropriate for the setting, including a casual dress.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Emperor Uriel Septim VII wears his ermine-collared, gold-brocaded purple robe and jewel-encrusted amulet while wading through a sewer system to escape assassins. His heir, Martin, does the same at the end of the game in a warzone, though he was on his way to coronation. Uriel was also wearing a different royal outfit when he was freed from imprisonment in oblivion at the end of Arena. He does, however, seem to wear a more practical outfit in Daggerfall. Though that's also when his hair mysteriously vanished.
  • Princess Rozalin of Disgaea 2 never changes out of her Pimped-Out Dress (assuming she could), but it seems to hold up well regardless. Although she used to wear the more practical Badass Longcoat back in her days as Overlord Zenon.
    • Also in those games, Hoggmeiser (a big, humanoid, ax-wielding boar) and other Nether Nobles wear ermine capes and crowns.
  • Suikoden IV gets it right with King Lino En Kuldes, who wears a regal outfit in only one scene in the entire game. The rest of the time, he dresses like any other citizen of his kingdom, to the extent that no one who didn't already know who he was could tell that he was the King of Obel. (The main characters actually initially mistake his butler/chamberlain/advisor-type guy for being the king, since he was the only person in the palace who dressed even remotely formally.)
  • Averted in Gaia Online. Johnny K. Gambino (who, while not actual royalty, certainly acts he is) normally dresses in fairly fancy clothes, even when working in the lab. However, recently he's taken a liking to lounging around his mansion in a blue bathrobe and socks, watching old Ron Bruise movies.
  • In several Ultima games, Lord British is apparently so fond of his ermine coat and golden crown that he wears it in bed. He does admittedly have only one sprite like everyone else, but it still looks rather funny.
  • The Princess/Prince class in Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City naturally fall into this; like all classes, they are represented in-game by their portraits. Unlike the other classes, their outfits are pure examples of Requisite Royal Regalia — both princesses wear Pimped Out Dresses adorned with gems, tiaras, earrings, and ornately detailed armor, while the older prince wears even more ornate armor (and earrings) and a sweeping cape, while the younger prince has a tiny crown and fur-trimmed cape with a huge gem brooch. And they apparently explore the Yggdrasil Labyrinth in all of this...
  • Radiant Historia:
    • Queen Protea of Granorg brings up this trope when her daughter, Eruca, argues that the court should cut back for the benefit of the citizenry.
    • Eruca is thoroughly guilty of this herself, both in sprites and being the only character to use dress-class armors. Her defense stats are deplorable, outmatched by the nine-year-old Trap Master who at least has the decency to wear magic-enhanced cloaks.
  • Can be played straight or averted in Fable III. The Hero starts off as a Prince/Princess in pajamas, and the first order of business is to pick an outfit to wear for the day. The choices are either a flamboyantly elegant outfit, or one that's more practical. However, shortly after the introduction, the Hero is required to obtain some new clothes to blend in with the locals. After the coup, the Hero gets a new regal suit, complete with crown, but there's nothing stopping him/her from swapping it out for one of the numerous other costumes acquired throughout the game.
  • In Final Fantasy IX Queen Brahne is seen only wearing the fancy elaborate finery wherever she is - including in private. Her daughter however averts the trope. She's only seen in her Pimped-Out Dress three times during the game - and each of those involves a formal occasion and public appearance. Lady Hilda meanwhile was apparently kidnapped by Kuja in the middle of the night and yet wears a very grand dress, despite having been kept prisoner in a Gilded Cage. It's also inverted by Eiko in the Distant Finale where she's attending a public event as the adopted daughter of Regent Cid and Lady Hilda and yet wears her normal casual outfit.
  • Zigzagged in Dishonored. Empress Jessamine was wearing a practical suit when she was murdered, but she was more of an outlier compared to the rest of Dunwall's Decadent Court who prefer to spend their days wearing extravagant outfits and having balls. It also acts as a clue as to why she was murdered - she was investigating the Plague of Rats in the city and almost exposed the Lord Regent's plan to Kill the Poor.
  • In Pathfinder: Kingmaker, the player character receives a Crown of Power upon becoming King/Queen. The stat bonuses it gives are impressive enough that, however else you may be equipped from the neck down, chances are good that you'll be wearing that crown throughout the remainder of the adventure.

    Web Comics 
  • Tower of God: Averted with the Princesses of Jahad. Two wear regular clothes such as summer dresses, skirts, stockings, or blouses, one is a slob that never leaves her room and whose only confirmed articles of clothing are her T-shirt and her huge blanket.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Princess Azula and Prince Zuko (during the time periods he wasn't exiled) always wear their formalwear, except for the Beach Episode. Although their formalwear is Fire Nation military dress uniform and not ridiculously overdone gowns, and so isn't very cumbersome for them. Upheld again in that Azula has been seen without being fully made up and her hair elaborately done only when woken up in the middle of the night, and/or in the process of losing her mind. Both times we see Azula being groomed, it was for a special occasion (a war meeting and her coronation), but she was still made up the entire time she spent travelling through the Earth Kingdom (in fact she practically went nuts putting a hair out of place).
    • Their father Fire Lord Ozai, on the other hand, gives Hank Hill a run for the title of world's least animated animated man. Save for burning his son's face off, walking around during a war meeting, and the final fight scene, he was only seen sitting immobile on his throne, done up in his most elaborate robes and regalia. Amusingly, he usually loses most of his clothing along with the regal wear both of the times he fought (the first because Agni Kai are traditionally fought shirtless, while the second was because the new clothes he had were rather ridiculously cumbersome).
    • Bumi uses it as part of his Obfuscating Stupidity. Like Ozai, he takes off his robe to fight, revealing himself to be quite healthy for a 112-year-old man.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Princess Celestia is constantly dressed in impeccable finery and a tiara every time she appears. Even in bed. And also, her rainbow gravity-defying hair. This is outright dressed down however, compared to the finery she wore in the finale of season 3. With the enormous, poofy dress and jeweled crown easily twice the size of her normal tiara, it's no wonder she doesn't wear it more often.
    • Whenever he's not a disembodied cloud of smoke (so pretty rarely), King Sombra wears an ermine cape and a spiked crown along with heavy plate armor. The cape has the side effect of always covering his Cutie Mark, giving birth to some fan theories about what it may be. There is also some speculation that it may conceal a pair of wings.
  • Winx Club has an interesting variation. The main characters, half of whom are princesses, all dress normally in regular teenage girl clothes, at least within the confines of the show's universe. But their parents, and in fact all courtly adults they come into contact with, like Countess Cassandra, wear formal, old-fashioned royal regalia at all times—crowns, gowns, doublets, and of course, capes.

    Real Life 
  • Due to the weight of the Imperial State Crown it is common for British Monarchs to wear it for several hours prior to the annual State Opening of Parliament to become used to it. Courtiers have reported witnessing Queen Elizabeth II wearing it while eating breakfast and reading the paper.
    • While Queen Elizabeth II was considered by many fashionistas to be quite dowdy if not outright frumpy, in her youth, she and her sister, Princess Margaret, were major fashion leaders who were very frequently seen wearing the most elegant dresses by leading British and French designers of the Christian Dior-led "New Look" period.
    • Diana, Princess of Wales, was very much a fashion leader back in the day as well. She made a particular point of patronizing British fashion designers and wearing their creations.
  • This once actually had a practical purpose. It was a convenient way to store wealth before efficient banking services. This was especially the case for nomad nobility who had no other way to store it. The same is true of the Landsknechte (mercenaries) of the Thirty Years' War, whose loud Bling of War Nonuniform Uniforms are the historical basis for the famously colorful dress uniform of the Papal Swiss Guard.
    • This still holds true for people whose income remains incompatible with conventional banking, i.e. street criminals. Jewelry, fine clothes, and luxury cars are all convenient ways to keep wealth highly portable and transferable, and they're (slightly) less vulnerable to police confiscation than big wads of cash. This form of value hoarding is the entire reason that street pimps developed a reputation for flashy wardrobes and cars. (The same constraint also pushes street criminals into real estate, especially in depressed neighborhoods where property values are low and houses can easily be bought with cash; if they choose to live in what they buy, they often fill it with gold-plated everything and giant wardrobes for their clothes and jewels.)
  • Elizabeth I of England is justly famous for her spectacular state wardrobe (though she dressed less ornately in private). James I & VI was an aversion of the trope to the extreme displeasure of his English subjects accustomed to a monarch who knew how to make a show.
  • The Spanish Queen Mariana of Austria averted this after the death of her husband Philip IV when she always dressed as a nun even on public acts.
  • Mark Twain had the opportunity to meet the Russian royal family, and remarked on the contrast he observed between royalty in real life and royalty on the stage: "I find that when one is so fortunate as to get behind the scenes and see them at home and in the privacy of their firesides, they are strangely like common mortals. When they swagger around the stage in jeweled crowns and splendid robes, I shall feel bound to observe that all the Emperors that ever I was personally acquainted with wore the commonest sort of clothes, and did not swagger."

Alternative Title(s): Ermine And Tiaras, Royalty Equals Fancy