Ling: And I'll bet the ladies love a man in armor.
A character is acknowledged by other characters as being more attractive because they're dressed in some type of uniform.
There's something about a person in uniform. It's not just due to Hollywood's inability to cast unattractive people; something about the cut, colors and symbolism of military drag can bump a person up a couple of points on the hotness meter.
For one thing, uniforms are designed to look well uniform, so that troops look good en masse. Dress uniforms are deliberately tailored to create a neat-but-athletic look; tactically practical battle uniforms are less pretty, but have their own appeal yes, even on females.
It's the martial equivalent of She Cleans Up Nicely. Compare Fair Cop, Hot Men at Work, Hello, Sailor!, and Firemen Are Hot. While traditionally a result of a Female Gaze, that's rapidly changing. Uniformed men sometimes have A Lady on Each Arm, as seen in the trope image.
Note that this is an in-universe trope, not about soldiers that you personally find hot.
- Conversed in Baccano! 1931 - Another Junk Railroad. When Claire goes to Rachel for advice on what to get for Chane, she suggests clothes. Upon hearing this Claire immediately jumps to the conclusion that he should get her a military uniform, the suggestion being that he believes anyone automatically looks sexier in a military uniform. Rachel manages to talk him down into getting her a normal dress, but not out of sewing knife-holsters into it.
- In Mafalda, Susanita gets excited about Manolito's brother returning from military service... until he tells his brother wasn't a cadet, but a recruit, something which disgusts her.
- In Albedo: Erma Felna EDF, Erma, furry Cat Girl officer, looks great in both her regular duty and flight gear, but put her in her dress uniform, a tight backless single piece of material with slippers and a cape to frame it, and she becomes a knockout who can stun any male even as they snap a salute.
- One Archie Comics story saw Veronica express a love for men in uniforms, causing the titular character to become jealous. This leads to a misunderstanding where Veronica thinks he enlisted in the army to impress her; in reality, he'd merely gotten a job at the local movie theater.
- Robin (1993): When Callie hears that Tim's father is forcing him to transfer to Brentwood Academy her first reaction is that the Brentwood boys look good in their uniforms.
- Child of the Storm:
- Steve Rogers being the most prominent, with a number of characters commenting on how good he looks.
- Colonel 'Rhodey' Rhodes is handsome enough that the prospect of topless pictures induced Instant Waking Skills in Carol.
- Brigadier Jack O'Neill is his normal Silver Fox self, turning up in tactical gear and inducing a form of Parental Sexuality Squick in his niece, Carol, who notices how Noriko is crushing on him.
- His mother, Alison Carter, is no slouch either, looking closer to her late 40's than actual age of early 60's, and being described as an elegantly attractive older woman. When she removes the ageing make-up, she looks closer to her late twenties. Super soldier genes have their advantages.
- Peggy Carter (Posthumously), as per MCU canon, looking very good in a uniform - enough that she drew Steve's eyes, certainly.
- In Shell Shock, the sergeant is implied to be quite attractive, especially because he looks good in uniform.
- Mariella Smith-Rhodes, when conscripted into her country's armed forces. Her aunt reflects on how lovely she would look in the dress uniform issued to women soldiers in the Ceremonial Guard. Aunt Friejda is not to know her niece has opted for Special Forces.note Read more in A.A. Pessimal's Gap Year Adventures...
- In New Beginnings, Luna thinks this way about Blank Page in his War Mage outfit.
- The Barretts of Wimpole Street: Henrietta' suitor, Capt. Cook, is so handsome in his dress uniform that she insists he come in the house so her sister Elizabeth can see him in all his Bling of War. This leads to an ugly confrontation when Edward, their severely uptight, controlling father, returns unexpectedly and catches the three of them in Elizabeth's room.
- In Eyes Wide Shut Nicole Kidman makes her husband Tom Cruise jealous when she reveals that she has fantasies about a Naval officer in dress whites she met when their family was on vacation.
- Taking Chance: Discussed by a girl in the seat next to Lt. Colonel Strobl, texting about the "HOT Soldier" sitting next to her.note
- Ted: Lori and John discuss the night they met, with cutscenes showing their very different recollections of the event. Lori remembers John practically knocking her out with his spastic dance moves, while John's version contains choreographed dances, suave one-liners...and he's wearing Navy dress whites for some reason.
- Richard Gere in his dress whites sweeping Debra Winger off her feet in the closing scene of An Officer and a Gentleman iconifies this trope and inspired countless parodies.
- An old joke states that the reason women are attracted to a man in uniform is very simple: It means he has a job. It doesn't matter what uniform it is, they don't really care. A variation specifically for military uniforms exists: It means he has a job and will follow orders.
- Hostile Takeover (Shwartz) has Commander Marc Davidoff, Space Marine and Ace Pilot. Though he's heir to one of the largest oligarchies in the galaxy, and as athletic as you would expect from a man of his job description, CC notes he's not really as handsome as her social-climber fiance. It's Davidoff's blunt manner, spiffy uniform and dedication to duty that make him so attractive.
- Jane Austen:
- Pride and Prejudice: Some major sub-plots are driven by the arrival of the ___shire militia to Netherfield. Mainly, Kitty and Lydia go bananas trying to flirt with all the officers, and completely lose interest in any man not wearing a red coat.
- Mansfield Park: William Price, Fanny's brother, is promoted from Midshipman to Lieutenant, and is happy that his sister whom he adores gets to see him in his brand new uniform.
"He, complete in his lieutenant's uniform, looking and moving all the taller, firmer, and more graceful for it, and with the happiest smile over his face, walked up directly to Fanny, who, rising from her seat, looked at him for a moment in speechless admiration, and then threw her arms round his neck to sob out her various emotions of pain and pleasure."
- In The Watsons (fragment of a novel), Mary Edwards is courted by Captain Hunter. After a ball, her mother is not very satisfied that Mary had been dancing with military men only, and neglected their neighbours because of them. Mainly a certain son of a rich banker.
"Mary was surrounded by red-coats all the evening. I should have been better pleased to see her dancing with some of our old neighbours, I confess"
- Wraith Squadron and later novels: The first impression that most people have of the Wraiths' Kell Tainer is that he'd look good on a recruitment poster. Kell himself comes to the same realization fairly quickly after meeting his squadmate Tyria Sarkin.
- It isn't properly a military uniform, but one book in the Heralds of Valdemar series contains several paragraphs of discussion as to how everyone looks better in the white Heralds' uniforms.
- In George MacDonald Fraser's McAuslan stories, his Author Avatar Lieutenant Dand McNeill reflects on the power of the Scottish military uniform to attract women. He notes that not even American Air Force pilots or the U.S. Marines can compete with a man wearing kilt, sporran, and a ritual dagger down his sock-top.
- Invoked in Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, where the soldiers sent out to greet the citizens of Putnam's Landing in civilian clothes realize that they need to wear their uniforms to make any sort of impression on the girls of the town.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
- Aral Vorkosigan is attracted primarily to military trappings while being flexible on the subject of gender. His home planet of Barrayar considers the military a men-only profession, though, and also strongly discourages homosexuality, meaning aside from a political marriage his major relationships had to be conducted in secret. (Though they were something of an open secret among the high Vor.) His second wife Cordelia came from another planet where the military was open to all sexes, and so became a best-of-both-worlds opportunity for him to, ahem, have his cake and eat it, too.
- Ivan Vorpatril, although damn good-looking to begin with, looks even better in uniform because it flatters his athletic frame and makes him seem less boyish.
- In G. K. Chesterton's poem Lucasta Responds to Lovelace, a parody of/reply to Richard Lovelace's To Lucasta, Going to the Wars, Lucrasta says she finds Lovelace the soldier in his red uniform with gold lace, far more attractive than Lovelace the poet, mostly to lead to the punchline:
Yet this inconstancy forgive,Though gold lace I adore.I would not love the lace so much,Loved I not Lovelace more.
- In Warchild Series Jos mentions that Jets in uniform have an extra allure about them. Being asexual, he's immune.
- Ciaphas Cain: Ciaphas Cain mentions this as a routine problem he has to deal with as regimental commissar, because apparently there's just something irresistible about the contents of a Guard uniform... and it looks even better on the bedroom floor. This problem crops up in a couple of different ways for Cain. He himself sometimes receives attention from people he knows he should stay away from; second, as commissar it's his job to deal with the occasional results of his troops' extracurricular activities.
- The Locked Tomb: The Sixth House actually factors "genetic outreach potential" into its Cohort assignments, including an entire unit of incompetent but good-looking fighters whose primary duty is to reel in spouses and Chosen Conception Partners on offworld reserve assignments.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Agents of the Initiative are quite handsome. Riley's Token Black Friend laments that they can't tell girls that they're demon slayers so they have to rely on their looks to get the girls.
- In "The One With The Chicken Pox", a shore leave visit by Phoebe's submariner old flame gets the group discussing the appeal of a uniform.
- Inspired by Phoebe's sailor, Ross later treats Rachel by getting hold of some Navy whites and attempting the "Officer and a Gentleman" carry out.
- Discussed later when she asks him if he still had the Navy uniform, he says no, but might have an old band uniform from high school. Rachel says to remember all the sex he didn't have in high school.
- Doctor Who:
- Rory Williams looks cute in civvies (or his nurse's scrubs), but totally badass in any uniform, be it museum security guard, modern combat fatigues or particularly his signature Roman centurion outfit. In "A Christmas Carol", he's dressed as the last one for his honeymoon, so clearly his girlfriend/wife Amy loves it too.
- "Invasion of the hot Italians": Amy is dressed in her kiss-o-gram constable outfit. Obviously, her love Rory likes that.
- In "The Curse of Fenric", Jean and Phyllis make comments along the lines of "I love men in uniform" to the soldiers they meet on the path to the beach. In the novelisation, the girls' lines stay the same, but are delivered mockingly because the soldiers are elderly Home Guard members.
- Acknowledged by General O'Neill in Stargate Atlantis, upon learning that the incoming rescue mission is less than officially sanctioned.
O'Neill: So, am I to assume you are not surrounded by heavily-armed SG teams and young, strapping marines?
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Nemesis", a girl from the village says that the Defenders, which Chakotay has joined, "glimpse great" in their jungle combat gear. They're actually the villains of the story.
- Horatio Hornblower: When Horatio is promoted to Lieutenant and gets his new Navy uniform, he's praised by his tailor (obviously) that it's a great improvement, compared to his Midshipman look. Men aboard the Indefatigable tease him and his particular friend Archie jokes that there is a complete stranger among them.
- Murdoch Mysteries: Not much is said about constables' normal uniforms, but when they play baseball, all the constables look great in their shirts. Drs. Emily Grace and Julia Ogden are especially impressed with Constable George Crabtree and comment that he looks dashing.
- Meredith Viera of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? totally loses her cool over a handsome sailor contestant. In her defense... golly, the guy looks gorgeous. See for yourself.
- In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), this is a Discussed Trope among the rather handsome Navy soldiers who are going on their weekend pass.
- Timecop: In "Rocket Science", when Jack Logan returns from his latest mission in a military uniform, one of his colleagues notes how attractive he looks. Purely tongue in cheek, since he was forced to wear a Wehrmacht uniform.
- Deconstructed in the fourth season of Blackadder. Discussing the soldiers' propaganda magazine, Blackadder describes it as a work of fiction since it does nothing to show how the soldiers actually are, and is better used as toilet paper.
Blackadder: I mean, the stuff's about as convincing as Doctor Crippin's defense lawyer. The British Tommies are all portrayed as six foot six, with biceps the size of Bournemouth!
- The Punisher (2017): Billy Russo. While he and Frank Castle are serving in the Marines, Frank jokingly nicknames him "Billy the Beaut" owing to the number of women Russo has bedded with his good looks.
- Pvt. Randy Hill on Enlisted is literally a good-looking Private and his brothers are no slouches either, to the extent that oldest brother Pete is featured on a recruiting poster. The other men in the unit look more like us mere mortals but even they clean up pretty good in their dress uniforms for the unit formal.
- Six Feet Under: David's boyfriend Kieth is a sexy gay black cop who looks great in his uniform. David's sister Claire is impressed with his looks and when they have a chance to talk, Kieth mentions he fell fell in love with David because he sees more in him than just a "big black sex cop" and just gets him.
Derrell: Did you know my dad Kieth used to be a cop?
Claire: I did. He looked really good in his uniform.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: In "Ninja Quest", Bulk and Skull decide to become cops after overhearing a girl telling her friend she loves men in uniforms.
- Miranda: Miranda and her best friend Stevie both love a man in any uniform and they both squee and compete for his attention whenever any such man happens to come to their store. They include cops, firemen, Navy men etc. They like even costume versions.
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Admit it, Wilma Deering looked great in her black dress uniform at the diplomatic function in the Pilot Movie. She also looks pretty good while wearing her standard white Earth Defense Directorate pilot's uniform.
- There is a Croatian song "All sisters want to kiss sailors".
- A once-popular English music-hall song "All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor".
- Rare Female Example: The Skyhooks' "Women in Uniform":
Women in uniform, sometimes they look so cold
Women in uniform, ooh but they feel so warm
- Czech folk song "Okolo Hradce" has chorus lines about marching soldiers and that every girl's heart rejoices at the beautiful sight.
- Double Subverted in Patience. None of the female cast are remotely interested in the Dragoons, instead swooning after the poets Bunthorne and Grosvenor, because aestheticism is all the rage. The soldiers wonder why their uniforms are no longer effective at conquering women, and they only start winning the ladies back when they start to dress and act like aesthetic poets. When Grosvenor gives up the aesthetic game, the women who were chasing after him have a sudden change in taste and go back to the soldiers to whom they were originally engaged.
- Played straight in Iolanthe, where Private Willis is obliged to admit that he is "generally admired".
- In 100% Orange Juice!, during Star Breaker's campaign Sora gets this opinion from Tomomo when she's made to wear her old military uniform from her game, saying that it makes her look like a military instructor.
- Eiger from Shadowrun Returns Dragonfall got the name from a fellow recruit who compared her to the mountain of the same name, and described them as "beautiful but difficult to climb". Eiger didn't appreciate the cheap sexual allusion and broke his jaw. Her official art bears this out; Eiger is quite attractive in spite of (or maybe because of) her being an eight-foot wall of horns, tusks, muscles and killer instinct.
- Quite a few web forums out there - there are least two military discussion forums that have dedicated threads on the subject (with only full-clothed pictures generally allowed) and one dedicated blog.
- Keisha Stevenson in The Salvation War is attractive enough an angel describes her as "comely", and note is often made of her enormous breasts.
- Played for laughs in a The Nostalgia Critic review, as a skit has him, Malcolm and Tamara playing soldiers who are more interested in looking good than anything else.
- Terminal Lance occasionally notes that Marine dress blues turn even the ugliest most undesirable men into irresistible chick magnets.
- Discussed in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, where Alex suggests to Marcus that they became pilots to impress girls, and Marcus replies that the only girls they know are also pilots.
- According to the Mickey Mouse (2013) cartoons, this is why Donald wears a sailor uniform (well, the top part at least). He's not actually a sailor; he just wears it for Daisy.
- In the Doc Mcstuffins episode Training Army Al, nurse Hallie gleefully exclaims that Al was made to look good in a uniform. She compliments him again not much later.
- Much of men's fashion has its roots in military dress.
- There is a Polish saying, roughly translated: "all girls want uniform-wearing boys".
- During Operation Desert Storm, the Today show featured a live interview with a U.S. Air Force Colonel (i.e. someone roughly Katie Couric's age at the time). When they sent it back to Katie and Bryant, Katie said, "Can you put the Colonel back on? Hubba hubba!"
- During the Gulf War, Cher came back from entertaining the troops to announce that America had the cutest armed forces in the world, including the girls!