No Magical Girl can be complete without a spiffy costume, decked out with frills and bling. While there are a huge variety of styles when it comes to such costumes, the pervading theme seems to be colorful, very girly, highly unlikely fighting gear meant to appeal to Rule of Cool, Rule of Cute, or Rule of Glamorous and whose impracticality never seems to get in the way of their ability to take out the bad guys. Impossibly Cool Clothes is definitely in effect here. Usually Suspension of Disbelief is required to believe such a costume is ideal for fighting, though occasionally there will be a Handwave in the form of an explicit mention that the protection of the outfit is magical. Another possible reason for having these outfits (on the animators' part, at least) instead of the more traditional superhero bodysuit, is that it's a lot harder to have a flashy, step-by-step transformation sequence with a traditional superhero outfit.
While every Magical Girl has her own unique costume, there are definitely some very common elements that pop up within the genre and which, when combined, become the iconic Magical Girl costume. The most common traits include:
- A frilly skirt or dress. An overwhelming majority of the time this is a short dress, almost never below the knee. "Frilly" can mean pleats that echo the schoolgirl Sailor Fuku, large ballerina tutu ruffles, flowery fairy-style skirts, airy poofy skirts...and so on. More rare is a tight miniskirt or short shorts.
- A distinctive, bright color scheme. Pinks and other pastels feature heavily but by no means have a monopoly. The Dark Magical Girl gets lots of black added to the palette. A team of magical girls will usually be Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
- Ribbons. It could be a waist ribbon, it could be a prominent bow on the chest, it could be hair ribbons (see further down), it could be other ribbons that look cool when the girl is twirling in her Transformation Sequence.
- Accessories and jewelry in an assortment of recurring motifs: hearts, stars, flowers, butterflies (especially Butterfly of Death and Rebirth and as symbols of metamorphosis that fit well with growing girls) wings and gems.
- A signature accessory, rod, wand or weapon decked in the same motifs.
- A Transformation Trinket, which may be the same item as above. It too may transform and integrate itself into the costume.
The more variable traits, trope-ified:
Whole Outfit Tropes
- Battle Ballgown
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- Frilly Upgrade - Costume Evolution means the outfits get more frilly as the show goes on
- Good Colors, Evil Colors - Pink is the team leader with Red usually being The Lancer, all black usually means Dark Magical Girl.
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery - Frilly dresses don't slow down the action
- Leotard of Power - Almost never alone, usually combined with a skirt.
- Minidress of Power - A typical form for these outfits is a short dress.
- Modesty Shorts - For when the Magic Skirt doesn't work and the magical girl isn't wearing a leotard
- Sailor Fuku - Codename wa Sailor V and Sailor Moon are the first and most obvious examples but as iconic as they are on Japanese schoolgirls, echos of them appear in other designs.
- Giant Poofy Sleeves
- Wings- especially for the leader of a Magical Girl team, with occasional Power Gives You Wings with a Frilly Upgrade
Foot Gear Tropes
- Cool Crown - A princess tiara or some form of circlet, specially if the Magical Girl has a princess origin story.
- Some form of short cape.
- High-Class Gloves - Even if the characters aren't high class, their outfit is often meant to evoke that image.
- Power Crystal
- Requisite Royal Regalia
Hair And Eye Tropes
- Curtains Match the Window
- Elemental Eye Colors
- Girlish Pigtails
- Odango Hair
- Ojou Ringlets
- Tomboyish Ponytail
- Power Makes Your Hair Grow
- World of Technicolor Hair - when every magical girl in the series has colorful hair without comment
Other elements may include items from the Cute Witch motif (which at one point was what Magical Girl meant), i.e. a witch hat, and echoes of armor, like shoulder pads, arm bracers and such, though rarely actual armor. Magical girls who go through a mid-season, new season or plot-related power upgrade will often get a Frilly Upgrade for their costume to match.
- Pretty Cure:
- Futari wa Pretty Cure:
- Cure Black her short top caused quite a stir among Moral Guardians as a result it is covered up in Season 2. She is the only Cure in the entire series to not get a hair accessory as a Cure.
- In the first movie her outfit gets a golden color, and her earrings and other small hearts on her clothes become diamonds.
- In the second movie Her outfit◊ takes on a Feather Motif. In Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2 her Cure Rainbow Black form resembles this but without the Feather Motif.
- Cure White She only gets a minor Frilly Upgrade for season 2 same golden upgrade for movie 1 and movie 2 upgrade Cure Rainbow White in Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2 uses the same outfit but with Wings
- Shiny Luminous While not an Official Cure her outfits are certainly treated as such and follow the same upgrade line as Cure White
- Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star Unique in that there is no real Mid-Season Upgrade the costume change is a complete form change with just different powers.
- Yes! Pretty Cure 5: A butterfly motif dominates the costumes. All pretty much follow the same design just Palette Swap gaining jackets in season 2 and a few frills for the first movie with Butterfly wings the only unique one is Shining Cure Dream from the second movie.
- Fresh Pretty Cure!:
- HeartCatch Pretty Cure! Flower Motif is the king here. When they gain their super forms their skirts bloom.
- Cure Blossom Super Cure Blossom
- Cure Marine Super Cure Marine
- Cure Sunshine◊ Super Cure Sunshine
- Cure Moonlight◊ Super Cure Moonlight is unique in that she is from the previous generation of cures, her outfit is quite different than the others she does not use a mini skirt but a cut open dress, and uses two color motifs instead of the usual one, purple and silver. Her Fashionable Asymmetry matches up with Dark Pretty Cure hinting at their connection at they are two halves of the moon and other things.
- Cure Flower
- Dark Cure
- Suite Pretty Cure ♪ Music is the theme here.
- Cure Melody
- Cure Rhythm
- Cure Muse◊ playing the Dark Is Not Evil Mysterious Protector she gets next to no frills however its going to come off with lots of frills◊ once she truly becomes a good girl.
- Cure Beat◊ gets frills when she does a Heel–Face Turn. Watch it! Don't ruffle her costume or hair: they play guitar riffs when touched.
- The girls of Smile PreCure! all share a Feather Motifs with lots of little variations to their outfits like everyone has a half skirt tied on their back in a different shape, different shaped chest ribbons, the Tomboyish Cure Sunny and Cure March are lacking in the frills a bit on their skirt and shoulders for easier action and Cure Sunny is the only one to wear Zettai Ryouiki.
- Cure Soleil from Star★Twinkle Pretty Cure also fits this trope with her dress resembling a Rumba Dress (which is fitting for her since she is half Mexican).
- Futari wa Pretty Cure:
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei\'s Magical Girl Spoof Model Warrior Lily Cure◊ plays it as straight as can be however for once the one in pink is not the leader.
- Ayumu◊ (yes a guy....) and Haruna the Magical Girls in Is This A Zombie? with a theme of bows lots and lots of bows for their Frilly Upgrade they gain Heart Symbols and as they put it "Were getting cuter!"
- In Negima! Magister Negi Magi the Mahou Shoujo Biblion series with a Magical Girl duo Biblio Pink Tulip and Biblio Red Rose, the Magical Girl costume is Standard Sailor Fuku with Cat and Rabbit ears and tails respectively. First appears in an Imagine Spot with Nodoka and Yue, Makie and Ayaka wear the same outfit later on for the Cosplay and the fight in side the computer system.
- Chisame cosplays as "Rouland Rouge", who's supposed to be the Dark Magical Girl of the series, her outfit is a Black Sailor Fuku with black cat ears, bat wings, and a devil's tail with Zettai Ryouiki. The character is supposed to be a very innocent "shy crybaby", supporting the personality of Zettai Ryouiki.
- The outfits in Lyrical Nanoha have distinct military elements, but also have some more traditional elements in their design. For example, the main character Nanoha Takamachi wears a dress with Giant Poofy Sleeves.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka's magical girl outfit is closest to this. The other girls have elements in their outfits though.
- The title character of Nurse Angel Ririka SOS wears a pink and white costume with an airy skirt while transformed into Nurse Angel.
- The Magical Boys of Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! wear these when they transform into the Battle Lovers. The uniform includes a puffy-sleeved vest, a frilly shirt, a giant chest bow and a heart-shaped brooch, all in white and pastel colors. In contrast, the Dark Magical Boys of Caerula Adamas and the Vepper Twins wear prince-like black outfits.
- In the sequel, Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss!, the Happy Knights wear hooded outfits with pantaloons, small chest bows, puffy sleeves, curly-toed boots and wrist-length gloves.
- While the Sailor Guardians of Sailor Moon start out with basic Sailor Fukus, they tend to get frillier as they gain more powers, particularly in Sailor Moon's case, who, by the time Stars rolls around, has three layers of frilly skirts, pearls and wings in her hair and on her gloves, and two sets of wings, one on her waist replacing her back bow, and another on her back. The live action adaptation also gives Sailor Moon a frillier upgrade for her Superpowered Evil Side Princess Sailor Moon, which incorporates a lace underskirt, bigger bows, and a crown.
- Wonder Woman and the Star Riders: Wonder Woman wears a tutu-like skirt with a lacy underskirt, star print tights, and a cape, vambraces, boots and top in magenta. Dolphine's got blue and teal tights, a skirt made of lace with a sparkly cape skirt in back, a crown-like hair piece, and a scalloped edged neck covering that looks like a tight-fitting gugel that's had the actual hood removed. Ice is essentially a palate swap of Dolphine with a different skirt and the neck covering transformed into the top of a cape. Star Lily is wearing a gigantic flower made of lace on her back, flower accents and a multi-layered skirt.
- I Can't Be a Magical Girl!! You, a Magical Girl, Say: Izuku's Magical Girl outfit consists of a pink cotton dress with an Elizabethan collar, a white waist apron, thigh-high frilly-topped socks, pink shoes and fingerless white gloves.
- Spoofed by Agents of the Realm - while the dresses are nice and appreciated, the first time the girls have to pursuit a monster on foot, they have to pause and disentangle the frills from the branches of the forest they are running through.
- Apricot Cookie(s)!: Starlet Pony's magical girl outfit is a large, fluffy dress with roses pinned in her hair.
- Played straight in Leif & Thorn - you can get a rough idea of a magical girl's power by how fancy and bejeweled their outfit is.
- Team Alchemical in Sleepless Domain plays this straight, with bows, hair decorations, and poofy skirts galore. The other magical girls in the series tend to have more practical outfits.
- The Winx Club - some of their fairy forms are very frilly.