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Frilly Upgrade

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"A magical girl doesn't get to choose her costume, of course. Still, the two tend to suit each other. [...] While the general design will stay the same, elements of the costume might evolve slowly over time, or suddenly with big life changes. Changes like this always get discussed extensively in the tabloids."
Anemone, Sleepless Domain

You're a Magical Girl Warrior or two or five, huh? And you've made it to a second season and powered up accordingly? You've got to show it. But your old costume is too useful, too iconic and just too cute to get rid of. Get a Frilly Upgrade!

Magical girls' powerup outfits are easy to tell from their originals, because the original always looks plainer. The more seasons that the show goes on, the more jewels, ribbons, frills, lace, bows, hair clips, tiaras, fur trim, feathers, and even wings will be added to the uniform. This goes double for the leader, who has to look unique and special anyway. Still, there comes a point where it can't possibly be useful anymore. (Just imagine if Sailor Moon had gone for five more seasons.)

This probably stems from the target audience's idealization of princesses and fancy clothes. After all, the traditional Magical Girl story is aimed primarily at young girls, and operates on high levels of Wish-Fulfillment.

Contrast their Evil Counterpart, Evil Costume Switch, which changes frills out for leather or Spikes of Villainy. Goes quite well with a Power Crystal accessory. Compare with: Next Tier Power-Up, the approach more common in Shonen works; Mecha Expansion Pack, the Humongous Mecha equivalent; and Rainbow Pimp Gear, when you're in a video game and this trope is invoked by the player because the frillier pieces have better stats.

A Sub-Trope of both Frills of Justice and Costume Evolution. Compare Pimped-Out Dress, which this frequently results in.

This item is available in the Trope Co. catalog.


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     Anime and Manga 

  • Sailor Moon, as mentioned above.
    • The Super forms added heart buttons, wingy skirt details, gauzy shoulder pads and humongous back bows for all, as well as extra skirt colours, brooch details and hair accessories for the lead. Eternal Sailor Moon was the frilliest of all, with flying ribbons and wings everywhere. An episode of the first anime actually plays with it, when Usagi is unable to navigate a small room with many people (The Inners, Uranus, Neptune, The Starlights, two members of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad and the Monster of the Week for a total of 13 people) without knocking things over. The sounds of objects breaking can be heard as she does her In the Name of the Moon speech (Though not seen due to stock footage). Thankfully the room in question is her family's dining room.
    • In addition to giving a Messianic Archetype the power to save the world from evil, the Holy Grail causes new hairclips to appear in Sailor Chibi Moon's hair upon its first use by Sailor Moon. Only in the Anime though, she had those clips since her first appearance in the manga.
    • In a twist, everyone on the team (except Moon and Chibi Moon) gets more and more uniform as time goes by. Their super form takes away their (semi) unique chokers, brooches, and sleeves. Their manga-only third form (Which goes unnamed in the manga) finishes the job by getting rid of their unique earrings and shoes, and makes their back bows all a lighter shade of their primary colors. Although each solider still has her own color scheme, their uniforms in the Stars manga are otherwise identical.
    • Chibi Moon matched Moon except for colors in her first two uniforms... then the 3rd made her identical to the other Senshi.
    • There does appear to be an upper limit, however, as Sailor Moon's final power-up illustrates; in the finale her costume crosses something akin to the Bishounen Line and she spends the episode naked save for great feathered wings and the Ginzuishou over her heart.
    • Interestingly, her implied final form in the manga, Sailor Cosmos, has a much simpler costume, dropping many of the excess ribbons, bows, jewels, and colors for an almost completely white uniform with simpler adornments and replaces the wings with a simple white cape.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has a variation due to the target audience: the upgrades showcase additional metal pieces on the uniform and occasional sharp additions of fabric trim, and after the timeskip, shorter skirts. Though Fate Testarossa's initial upgrades add frills to her outfit as well, her last-resort Sonic Form reverses it, leaving her with nothing but skin-tight clothing "to make her faster".
    • Upgrades between the end of the anime and Force run away with the Mecha aspect of the show instead, having largely technological aesthetics.
  • Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!: After their Lovracelets are destroyed by the Sand Clock Monster at the start of season 2, the Battle Lovers get the new True Lovracelets from Wombat who lampshades their frilly upgrades.
    Wombat: "In season 2, your items and designs always change. That is the law of the universe! The providence of nature! And it's not just how they look! You've also powered up, and you boast a far more vivid design, invoking the taste of the 'now' and the 'young'!"
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch gave its heroines a Frilly Upgrade in the middle of the first season, before their power drop in the second.
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart gave them more frills, and also covered up Black's stomach — the consensus is that parents had probably complained, as it wasn't until Yes! Pretty Cure 5 that Dream wore another midriff-baring costume.
    • Both Max Heart movies also had super forms. The Golden Power from the first movie just colored their clothes gold, but the Power of the Phoenix from the second movie fits this trope to a tee.
    • An odd twist occurred in Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star. The powerup happens as normal to Cures Bloom and Egret as they become Bright and Windy. However, when they relinquish the new powers to their original owners, their Bright and Windy costumes are rather plain. This brings up the horrifying notion of what adequately detailed costumes would have done.
    • In the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 movie, the team becomes butterfly-winged Super Cures, and true to form, they have too many frills to count. Dream, of course, has her own "special" touches as team leader. And in Yes! Precure 5GoGo!, the wings are gone, but they get jackets instead. Cure Dream's stomach goes the way of Cure Black, but parents probably didn't complain, since Milky Rose fills the niche there instead.
      • The Yes! Precure 5GoGo! movie pulls an Eternal Sailor Moon by upgrading Cure Dream into Shining Dream; the wings are indeed back.
    • In Fresh Pretty Cure!, the girls' outfits are frilly before they even get a power-up. In fact, they are so frilly they could be compared to Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch's up there. In fact, once Cure Peach gains her power-up during The Movie, her outfit will end up as a mess of frills and angel wings, reminding one of Shining Dream's.
      • And at the end of the series, all of them get angelic upgrades.
    • HeartCatch Pretty Cure! actually averts the Frilly Upgrade as both the Rainbow form from Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2 and the Super Silhouette forms from the series proper are just modified (if not modest) variations of their normal costumes.
    • They come back in full force in Suite Pretty Cure ♪, especially the Symphony Melody form.
    • And to disturbing levels in Smile PreCure! with their Princess form and the upcoming "Hyper Princess" form.
    • Finally, Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2 and 3 both feature all of the previous super forms returning, with the addition of little gold wings.
  • Twin Princess of Wonder Planet powers up its titular twins all through the two-season series, ending with a mess of lace and cute accessories.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: The uniforms in Sharp bear some resemblance to the S1 uniforms and their Royal Patraine uniform resembles the uniforms in Sharp. This is averted starting with Motto.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Utena goes through a transformation sequence prior to each of the many duels after her first, and it gets pretty damn elaborate later on; however, the only visible change in her outfit is the addition of a frilly trim and epaulets.
  • Shinzo: A rare male example is Mushra. His most powerful form as a Galaxial god is, in fact, his regular orange armour with pink frills added.
  • The heroes of Wedding Peach are supposed to be angels, and in the second season, their armor sprouts feathers from the shoulders. They can even turn into wings.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Despite the fact that Sakura's battle costumes changed constantly, it still managed to do this by moving the Fly card wings from the staff to Sakura's back during the Sakura Card arc.
  • Akazukin from Fairy Musketeers has Princess Mode, which creates cuffs of lace before it creates the sword.
  • In the Pretty Sammy OAV, Pretty Sammy transforms into Hyper Sammy before casting her Pretty Coquettish Bomber.
  • Saint Seiya: Another unusual male example: Seiya. At first, Bronze Cloths were fairly utilitarian pieces of armor: a chestplate here, shoulderguards there, shinguards over there, maybe asymmetrical gauntlets for style or protection. But as the Cloths were consecutively damaged, destroyed, repaired, and revived, they steadily became flashier and prettier. Most full-head helmets became tiaras, for instance. It all culminated in their transformation into "Divine Cloths" that came with wings, intricate (and pointless) decorative engravings on continuous surfaces, and curvy loops at the end of what used to be spikes or sharp edges.
  • Parodied in Is This A Zombie?, where Ayumu's Masou Shoujo outfit keeps sprouting more ribbons and bows as he (yes, he) powers up, eventually prompting Haruna to scream, "Stop! You mustn't get any cuter!"
  • The heroine of Hyper Speed GranDoll gets the Powered Armor versions of this trope for her two power-ups.
  • Subverted in Kill la Kill. Ryuko's an edgy piss take of the typical Magical Girl Warrior, so Senketsu (her power-granting Living Clothes) gets skimpier and spikier as they synchronize and get stronger.
  • In Cutey Honey Flash, Honey unlocks her upgraded "Hyper Honey" form after the power of her device combines with Seira's. In this form, her costume becomes white and red, the opening in the chest becomes wider, and a pair of ribbons extend from her choker.

     Asian Animation 
  • Flower Fairy: It becomes a once-per-season trend starting with the Season 1 finale for the main magical girls' costumes to become frillier and more over-the-top in their appearances with each subsequent upgrade. It happens to Xia An'an's outfit in the season finale after a darkest hour of sorts.

     Comic Books 
  • W.I.T.C.H.: When the title girls get new powers in the erm... 'New Powers' arc of the show, they get new outfits, with neat gloves, their own personal symbols on the costumes, bigger wings and long hair. As a bonus feature the new uniforms can actually defend the girls from attack by moving their many strips of cloth. Heck, they even accessorize with new weapons later on.

     Fan Works 

     Video Games 
  • City of Heroes, with its ridiculously extensive costume creator, encourages this. As you level up, you unlock additional alternate costumes and extra costume pieces.
  • Fate/Grand Order has Elizabeth Bathory's third ascension outfit as Lancer, almost a parody.
  • In Twinkle Star Sprites, Load Ran transforms after stage 6 and looks considerably more developed in Sprites form.
  • Dragon Quest I: With her updated design in Kenshin, Princess Gwaelin received a Pimped-Out Dress in form of a pink and white ribbon-and-lace ensemble that thereon replaced the yellow gown of prior. However, she was portrayed with the classic design again in Dragon Quest Builders, likely in keeping with the game's theme.

  • MegaTokyo: Defied in strip #1074: after becoming a Magical Girl, Yuki puts on a Meido dress and a pair of cute Meganekko glasses; later, Largo gets her a combat outfit and a pair of Cool Shades. Yuki then responds like this:
    Yuki: M... Mr. Largo-san!! This not right! I agree maid dress and skirt bad, but... m... magic girl supposed wear cute thing! Not—
    Largo: You wanna look cute or kick a55?
  • Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki: Judging from this strip, Chiaki appears to know why frills and ribbons are the most superior armor ever.
  • As per the link above Moon Sticks a Sailor Moon gag per strip fan webcomic parodies it here.
  • Rare quadruple male example in 8-Bit Theater: the Light Warriors acquired class changes. These changes included new costumes that looked suspiciously similar to their old ones, despite being clearly different.
  • The characters in Magical Girl webcomic Miss Guillotine get more elaborate outfits after they "Awaken" and gain stronger powers.

     Western Animation 
  • Winx Club added brooches and purses to the fairy outfits for their first power up (Charmix). In season 3, however, they completely abandoned the Charmix and gave the girls totally new Enchantix outfits and powers, which meant a fresh start for the uniform. And in season 4, they once again abandon the Enchantix, replacing it with the Believix. There are also 2 sub-transformations, Sophix and Lovix. Starting from season 5, each new season brings two new power ups, and with them, more frills and intricate details. Season 5 has Harmonix and Sirenix, season 6 Bloomix and Mythix, and season 7 Butterflix and Tynix. World of Winx, meanwhile, has Dreamix and Onyrix.


Video Example(s):


Precure Trinity Explosion

Cure Flora, Cure Mermaid, and Cure Twinkle band together for a special attack.

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Example of:

Main / CombinationAttack

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