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Frills of Justice

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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.

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:

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  • 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 Giant 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.
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  • 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

Decoration Tropes

Foot Gear Tropes

Accessory tropes

Hair And Eye Tropes

Other elements may include items from the Cute Witch motif, (i.e. a witch hat, which at one point was what Magical Girl meant) and echoes of actual 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.

A Sub-Trope of both Pimped-Out Dress and Impossibly Cool Clothes.

This trope applies to Magical Girls only for anything else, please consult Costume Tropes.


Examples

Anime & Manga

Comic Books

  • 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.

Web Comics

  • 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.

Western Animation

  • The Winx Club - some of their fairy forms are very frilly.
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