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Gorgeous Period Dress

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Hollywood and the king agree about looking good.

A film trope starting when colour was new and directors were eager to show off what it could do, and extending to the days when TV was widespread but mostly black and white, so big, colorful spectacles were a way of luring audiences back to the theaters. (However — as noted below in the entry mentioning the 1935 "Becky Sharp" — this trope actually began to be used in films when Technicolor, a reliable — if at the time expensive — method of producing color film — came into use.) The trope consists of setting your story in Period Pieces, at a time and place in which the costumes were (or people think they were) very beautiful, and using lots of actors and extras in these beautiful costumes.

Items of Gorgeous Period Dress include:

  • Frock coats in bottle green, plum, royal blue, and pearl grey for the gentlemen.
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  • Ball scenes in which the ladies all wear different colored satin dresses.
  • Ladies' wearing High-Class Gloves of kidskin, silk or satin, and could be various lengths depending on the fashion.
  • Gentlemen's hats: Uncle Sam toppers, John Bull toppers, stovepipes, bicorns, or tricorns, depending on the period.
  • Ladies' hats with a whole bird's worth of feathers per hat.
    • Ladies' hats with delicate veils (usually of net or lace) to cover the face, fully or partially, also fit this trope, especially in movies or shows set in the 1940s or 1950s.
  • Crinolines (from approximately the 1820s through the 1860s) or Bustles (from the 1870s to the 1890s). Related: hoop skirts (from the 1820s through the early 1870s).
  • Corsets
  • So-called "full-fashioned" ladies' stockings (stockings with seams up the back of the leg and "Cuban" or "French"-style reinforced heels); these were standard items of women's dress from the 1920s through the late 1950s when seamless stockings were introduced.
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  • Peasants in picturesque Alpine or Ruritanian national dress, with lederhosen or knee breeches and embroidered waistcoats for the men, and dirndls and kerchiefs for the women.
  • Elizabethan stuff (ruffs, jeweled doublets, slashed sleeves and knickerbockers).
  • Guards in uniforms that would make the Pope's Swiss Guards laugh.
  • Bright green tights on Robin Hood and his Merry Men. (You may have heard 'Lincoln Green' used to describe the colour the outlaws wore; in fact someone along the line misread this definition from 'Lincoln Graine, which is a type of very expensive and luxurious scarlet cloth. Will 'Scarlett', anyone? The entire Robin Hood story is really a heartwarming tale about the rise of the merchant classes!)
  • Knights with colourful banners, surcoats, and caparisons.
  • Pretty much any Pimped-Out Dress
  • Royalty wearing their Requisite Royal Regalia and their glamorous clothes as everyday wear.
  • Dashing military types in full-on Bling of War.

Films featuring Gorgeous Period Dress seldom show the dirt and grime of everyday life in the old days, which meant odd situations in which impoverished serfs and peasants would be perfectly clean, hygienic, and decked out in crisply pressed, laundered clothing. Of course, fantasies like Highlander and comedies like Blackadder or Monty Python and the Holy Grail had been subverting the trope for some time, but it wasn't really until Braveheart came along that the antiseptic look fell completely out of favor and most, if not all, period movies began dousing the laity with a generous layer of filth (indeed, 1994's First Knight was one of the last such films to play the trope completely straight). Period movies that employ this look nowadays usually do so out of budget constraints; making up costumes to look dirty and weathered is much more costly than just using off-the-rack outfits from wardrobe, and it makes them more difficult to re-use for other films.

It should be noted that this actually had its roots in theater, which seldom had reason to have plain or dirty clothes. Also keep in mind that this trope is not necessarily deceptive: there have always been those who delight in fancy clothing, and modern Western society is far from the first to promote daily bathing or liberal use of soap. The Romans may have bathed more than we do.

A Sub-Trope of Hollywood Costuming.

Compare with Ermine Cape Effect, Costume Porn, Impractically Fancy Outfit (and its Sub Tropes), Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty.

Contrast with The Dung Ages, where shows portray the past as uniformly filthy and bedraggled even when it's historically inaccurate. See also Awesome Anachronistic Apparel, where this trope is used in the present day.

Please note that Gorgeous Period Dress is not necessarily limited to eras before the 20th century. Movies and shows set in the Belle Epoque or Edwardian era (roughly 1900-1914), the Roaring Twenties, the Thirties, the Forties (especially the "New Look" period of the late 1940s and early 1950s when Christian Dior and other designers tossed aside the austerity of the World War II years to bring sumptuousness and elegance back to women's couture), and even The '60s, can and do use this trope.


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    Comic Books 
  • Often invoked by Sandman when stories are set in other eras. Death in particular dresses in some particularly extravagant period outfits.
  • A rare male example is the Costume Porn sequence in Asterix and Obelix's Birthday where village seamstress Geriatrix's wife makes Obelix model her 'fashion collection'. This is really just an excuse to dress him in elaborately-drawn, historically-accurate costumes and hair/beard styles from rebellious warrior cultures from all through the, er, future history of France — Frankish shaved back and sides and ponytail, Norman bob and tunic, Crusader, Renaissance, musketeer, French revolutionary, Napoleonic Wars, 19th Century British-style fashion, 1940s, and a 1990s hip-hop fashion look. It goes on for two whole pages. Notable as it's the first time we ever see him without his mustache.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: "The Rage of Redbeard" takes place in 1750 with all the Holliday Girls in pretty wide gowns, some with panniers. They find that these restrict their movement and make it much harder to fight than normal.

  • Japanese film Gate of Hell is a prototypical Technicolor example from The '50s. Lots of ornate 12th-century costumes. Won an Oscar for costume design.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Since the movies revolve around pirates, there isn't much of this flavor, but if you pay attention, the movies include a surprisingly great amount of Pimped-Out Dress. Elizabeth is guilty of this in the first two movies, before she Took a Level in Badass. And while we're on the subject, Norrington's uniform got pimped when he got promoted to admiral between the second and third movies.
    • A bit more of this in the fourth film, which includes some scenes of British and Spanish court officials and dress-uniformed officers.
  • Gone with the Wind, also released in 1939, is in some places a validation, in others an aversion of this trope; Scarlett dresses sumptuously in many scenes (the famous green dress she made from lace curtains, or the equally famous scarlet gown) but very much in a down-at-the-heels manner in the postwar scenes where she's struggling to save Tara.
  • Lots in the 1998 movie Ever After.
  • The 1935 film Becky Sharp, an adaptation of Thackeray's Vanity Fair and the first-ever full-colour film, popularised this trope.
  • However, it can be dated back even further to 1920s silent films that use the rather odd-looking two-colour red and green Technicolor. One such film is Phantom of the Opera, which uses colourful costuming in a big ballroom scene.
    • Subverted in The Movie of The Musical which had all the costume ball dancers in black and white, rendering lyrics like "Splash of puce/Flash of red" completely moot. Actually, going by the "colorful" criteria, only the Diva wears anything wildly colorful and it's mostly pink anyway.
  • Many of the early Disney films, such as the ball in Cinderella. The live-action remake had colors so vibrant that, for example, Cinderella's dress had to be edited in post to be that blue in the lighting of the movie.
  • American cinema of the 1950s, fearful of losing customers to television, turned to spectacle to bring audiences back. The '50s and The '60s were the peak period for widescreen epic films with eye-searing Technicolor, and naturally, amazing dresses featured prominently: Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, Desiree, The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and many more.
  • The 1947 René Clair movie Le silence est d'or (Man About Town), starring Maurice Chevalier, featured late-Victorian-era Gorgeous Period Dress designed by no less a luminary than Christian Dior himself (his New Look, in fact, was in no small part derived from the sumptuous elegance of late Victorian and Edwardian fashion).
    • Gigi, also starring Chevalier and Leslie Caron, is positively stuffed with Edwardian Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • The 1943 movie Münchhausen, which was only the third full-length colour feature in the history of German Films, indulges itself in this respect. It contains, among other things, a costumed ball on an 18th-century theme in the present-day framing scenes, a sumptuous state banquet at the court of Catherine the Great, a large sequence at the Ottoman court in Constantinople and a carnival in Venice.
  • The Fantastic Beasts series is a Prequel to the Harry Potter films that starts off in The Roaring '20s and will likely end with Dumbledore's defeat of Grindlewald in 1945). Since Harry Potter took place in a school and the present day, its costumes were nothing too much to write home about. Fantastic Beasts has much more ornate costume design than its parent series. It's not just the main characters who were immaculately beautiful period dresses either, the background extras are a Cast Of Snowflake who also all wear gorgeous clothes. The first film's Oscar for Best Costume Design was the entire franchise's first Oscar, nine movies in.
  • Many Hammer Horror films.
  • Bizarrely combined with The Dung Ages in Flesh+Blood.
  • Can't forget Gladiator; Lucilla and Commodus's clothes (not to mention where they live) seem a bit too nice for The Dung Ages.
    • If anything, Commodus's clothing was too understated and rough. He should have looked like an overblown Louis XIV.
      • The Romans didn't live in The Dung Ages. Almost every character in Gladiator was underdressed and far too filthy to be realistic — even the slaves should have been spotlessly clean and neatly dressed.
      • Neither extreme is remotely realistic. Yes, the nobility had very good hygiene and fancy clothes in the period, but the common folk and the slaves were much less well off. When you work all day in the hot sun, you're going to look like it, and bathing every day was just too expensive for most outside the population centers where free public baths were open for all except slaves.
  • Sofia Coppola used this trope in 2006 for Marie Antoinette; the film even includes a lengthy montage of the queen and her ladies shopping for dresses and shoes.
  • Countless Bollywood period movies fall into this. This is particularly true if said movies feature Ms. Aishwaya Rai. Every. Single. Time.
    • Devdas and Jodhaa Akbar, especially. GUH.
  • Pretty much every Merchant Ivory film ever made.
  • One of the most famous William Shakespeare film adaptations, Henry V, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was famous for taking the story and laying on the mud and gore real thick on the period costuming to show medieval war in all its filthiness.
    • Laurence Olivier's version of Henry V is a straight-up example of this trope, though; it was the first color Shakespeare film, intended as a morale-booster during World War II, and the look is heavily modeled on fifteenth-century manuscripts.
    • Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, however, had everyone dressed in extremely elaborate and colourful 19th-century military uniforms or billowy ball gowns. Most of it was a way to keep the audience's attention for the (endless, uncut!) 4-hour movie, but it also set up a sharp contrast with Hamlet, who spent most of the movie in a black outfit.
  • The first-class passengers' clothes in Titanic (1997), contrasted with the third-class's filthier clothes and segregated areas on board the titular ship.
  • Snow White and the Three Stooges
  • Many a Jidaigeki film displays the Japanese equivalent (though there are usually some, especially townspeople, wearing everyday clothes as well).
  • The 1939 Warner Brothers film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex reveled in the opportunity to show the splendid court dress of Elizabeth I. (Bette Davis) in Technicolor.
  • Moulin Rouge! tries its very best to make your eyes bleed with colour… especially during the Can Can scene in the beginning of the film.
  • The film version of Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography, starring Tilda Swinton in very pretty clothes.
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is set in the Heian period and features the often so-elaborate-it's-ludicrous court garments and fashion of that time. Since Princess Kaguya is the protagonist, there's a particular focus on women's fashion: the 12-layer robe that totally covers the feet and hands, the blackening of teeth, and the shaved and repainted eyebrows.
  • Curse of the Golden Flower is this trope in spades. The colors practically strobe they're so brilliant and every character is burdened by layer upon layer of exquisite brocade.
  • Plunkett & Macleane for the most part averts this showing a more realistic and gritty costume approach, especially with lower classes. However, it plays it straight during one scene during a huge ballroom dance among the very rich, fitting the trope nicely. It's pretty much a costume designer's wet dream.
  • Pride & Prejudice (2005) is (sometimes) a subversion of this trope. In the big ballroom scene, Gorgeous Period Dress rules, but otherwise, the lead characters all dress relatively simply, if appropriately for reasonably well-to-do people (the Bennets) or wealthy (Darcy).
  • All film (as well as TV) versions of Anna Karenina make use of this trope.
  • Arsène Lupin (2004) with Kristin Scott-Thomas, seeing that it's about a gentleman thief who moves in Belle Epoque high society, uses this trope extensively.
  • The 2018 film The Favourite dresses its three female leads in lush early 18th Century costumes and surrounds them with a bevy of men in even more sumptuous dress. The characters played by Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, given they are taking on masculine political roles, sometimes dress in men's attire or women's attire that is styled to look masculine.
  • The Martin Scorsese version of The Age of Innocence, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. In fact, virtually any movie or show based on a novel by Henry James or Edith Wharton (cf. The Portrait of a Lady, The Europeans, The House of Mirth, The Buccaneers, Daisy Miller, etc.) is guaranteed to make ample use of this trope, seeing that both authors were writing about the upper classes of the late Victorian era.
  • The 1997 animated film Anastasia makes ample use of this trope.
  • My Fair Lady.
  • Elizabeth and the sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
  • Amadeus.
  • The Duellists.
  • The characters in 1963's The Raven wear somewhat lavish garments that all seem to be from different periods and regions.
  • All over the place in the Renaissance setting of La Reine Margot.
  • In 'Beauty and the Beast', while the story takes place in the early 19th century — complete with empire line gowns and enormous bonnets — the Beast's castle is essentially in a time bubble, meaning Belle gets to wear a lot of beautiful dresses from bygone eras, complete with tightly laced bodices and voluminous skirts.
  • Love it or hate it, The Wolfman (2010) had awesome costumes.
  • Deborah Kerr was heavily typecast in Costume Dramas, so many of her initial roles in Hollywood feature her in this:
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula won an Oscar for its costumes, showcasing some splendid 1890s Victorian fashion. Most of Lucy Westenra's wardrobe is rich and elaborate. There is some Hollywood Costuming involved however since Lucy's neckline is a little too low. Mina's bustle dress is not as lavish and it's a few decades out of style, but used to show that a poor schoolmistress can't afford the latest fashions.
  • In A Study in Terror, all of Jack the Ripper's victims are dressed in outfits that are far too elegant (and clean) for a real East End prostitute.
  • Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: The film features a feast of traditional Hutsul folk costumes. Various festivals, weddings, and funerals put their ceremonial garb on display, with rich furs and elaborate colors.
  • Crimson Peak has Edith in some stunning turn of the century dresses, and even her nightgown looks sumptuous. When it comes to the Sharpes, their clothes are nice but at least twenty years out of date - which is used to show they are Impoverished Patricians. It's implied they're that broke they wear their parents' old clothes.
  • Darling Lili puts the titular Lili in many fancy ball gowns and formal wear from 1918, befitting of a Femme Fatale Spy. She seems to have a new splendid outfit in each scene.
  • A Little Princess uses this to show off how wealthy Sara Crewe is. She arrives at the school wearing a splendid white coat and hat, and even the school uniform is quite elegant. Then when she loses all her wealth, she's reduced to wearing a simple black dress as she works as a servant.
  • Sherlock: Case of Evil includes several scenes set at high society balls seemingly for no other reason to allow both women and men (including a fine looking Sherlock Holmes played by James D'Arcy) to be seen in magnificent period outfits.
  • Onmyōji is set in the Heian period, and accordingly, most of the female characters are seen in many layers of robes in different colors, though the men tend to be more drably dressed. However, the standouts are Seimei and his shikigami like Mitsumushi, who are always wearing beautiful, brightly colored clothes.

  • In Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine of The Royal Diaries series, we learn that it is the Aquitaine way to dress in bright colors with plenty of jewels. At one point in the book Petra, Eleanor's sister, wears a gown of emerald while the main character wears one of blue and each of them wear white silk shoes beaded with pearls to contrast.
  • Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven must dress in a style from the old classical period. She wears the colors of earliest spring, shades of wisteria, and the outermost kimono is lavender, lined with blue.
  • Vampires from Dora Wilk Series all dress like this inside their covens, as they remember their lifetimes with lots of nostalgia.
  • Book six in Ms Wiz - Time Flies For Ms Wiz - features time travel. Ms Wiz and Nabilla first go back in time to Elizabethan England but wear simple peasant clothes. But when Ms Wiz poofs them into the middle of the Crimean War, she mistakenly gives them the height of fashion amongst 18th-century aristocracy. Still gorgeous though.
    Nabilla: People weren't wearing powdered wigs and huge silly skirts in 1854. We're at least a hundred years out of date!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Often seen in British historical dramas, such The Pallisers, Upstairs Downstairs, and Bleak House. The latter two series use the Gorgeous Period Dress of the upper-class viewpoint characters as contrast to the dress of the servants and lower-class viewpoint characters.
    • The miniseries Elizabeth R is one of the most spectacular examples. According to the DVD commentary, virtually the entire budget went on the queen's dresses (which explains why the sets are just one step above canvas backdrops).
    • The various BBC miniseries of Jane Austen novels, e.g., Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park.
      • Which presents an interesting contrast with most recent U.S. movies adapting Austen (excepting the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma), which often slightly subvert this trope in the interest of realism (see above entry on 2005's Pride and Prejudice.)
  • Given that most Korean historical dramas take place near or around the royal court, this is hardly missed.
    • Japanese and Chinese historical dramas are similarly full of nice kimono or hanfu, in the local equivalent of the BBC Costumer Cycle — TV companies make pretty clothes for historical dramas, but they cost a lot so they have to be reused for more historical dramas, which need more pretty clothes, which also cost a lot…
  • Angel whenever it featured a Darla flashback. Julie Benz described her as a character that always dressed to the height of whatever fashion was in at the time. When she first sires Angel, she has an elaborate 18th-century gown and curled hair. When Spike is sired, she's briefly shown in Victorian fashion. And during the Boxer Rebellion, it's fancy kimonos. Even more impressive since, according to Buffy, vampires normally have terrible fashion sense.
  • Another Period takes place in upper-crust Providence, RI, circa 1902. So all the high-society ladies are predictably dressed to the nines. Subverted by the central characters (spoiled attention-whore sisters Lillian and Beatrice), who manage to make their elegant gowns look cheap and tacky.
  • The 1998 HBO TV-movie Café Society uses this trope extensively to show the actresses in opulent evening dresses appropriate to the time period (the early 1950's) throughout about two-thirds of the film.
  • Period pieces in Doctor Who tend to fall under this as it's what The BBC does best. Some notable examples:
    • Barbara's Aztec goddess clothes in "The Aztecs" — gold jewellery, flowing robes, and an orange feathered headdress.
    • Vicki's gown in "The Crusade".
    • "The Massacre" puts Mr. Fanservice Steven in absolutely stunning velvet doublet-and-hose, with even a cape. Peter Purves wished it had become his character's Iconic Outfit rather than the rather tacky striped polo neck he'd worn in "The Celestial Toymaker" — unfortunately for him, even the telesnaps of that particular Missing Episode have been lost and only a few promo pics of him in it remain.
    • The Doctor swapping his usual early-Victorian clothes for late Victorian clothes in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" to magnificent effect — an Inverness cape with a brightly-coloured green paisley lining, a dark red velvet blazer with orange polka dots, a black velvet waistcoat with orange flowers, a butterfly collar shirt, black ankle boots with grey spats and grey silk gloves — and no scarf, for the first and only time. A huge amount of thought went into the outfit as it was originally intended to become his permanent outfit, but the regime change that occurred after that season led to the Doctor returning to his usual clothes.
    • An unusual example can be seen in "The Girl in the Fireplace" — gorgeous period dresses on gorgeous period robots.
    • And although Changed My Jumper is the usual rule for companions as well as the Doctor, Clara Oswald bustles about in a bustle dress in "Deep Breath" (as does her Victorian London version while posing as a governess in "The Snowmen").
    • Madam Vastra and Jenny Flint also wear gorgeous period dresses at times in several of their appearances.
  • General and I: It would be easier to list the costumes that aren't this. Highlights include Ping Ting's pink hanfu, these costumes, Yao Tian's costumes, and Bei Jie and Ping Ting's coronation outfits.
  • Goodbye My Princess: All over the place, on both men and women. Since it's set during a fictional dynasty, the costumes stand out even among the Gorgeous Period Dress of other historical Chinese dramas. Highlights include Xiao Feng's Xizhou and Li costumes, Xiao Feng's and Cheng Yin's wedding outfits, and Cheng Yin's black hanfu.
  • Kingdom (2019) has the Queen's outfits, especially the one she wears in her final scene, and the plethora of historically-accurate Nice Hats.
  • The King's Woman: Special mention goes to these costumes and Gongsun Li's armour.
  • The Longest Day in Chang'an takes advantage of its Tang Dynasty setting to put everyone in gorgeous and mostly historically-accurate costumes.
  • Mad Men engages in this at the most recent time when it might be applicable: the early Sixties (really an extension of The '50s). All manner of high-fashion dresses (usually traditionalist, at times frighteningly avant-garde) for the women and impeccable tuxedos for the men appear at high-class functions, and sharp suits for both sexes at work combine with that era's hairstyles (if your hair doesn't have chemicals in it, you're living in the past!) for a picture of '60s New York that makes it clear exactly what 40-50 years can do to a country. Alas, all of it reeks of cigarette smoke (which, admittedly, is Truth in Television).
    • See also the 2003 French TV miniseries of Dangerous Liaisons starring Catherine Deneuve and Leelee Sobieski, updating the story to the late 1950s/early 1960s. Deneuve in particular is wearing haute couture which is that period's very definition of Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel milks this for all its worth by having Midge and Rose dress in peak '50s and '60s couture, befitting their upper-middle-class Upper-West-Side sensibilities. They tend to draw attention to this in-universe by having Susie remark about how unnecessarily fancy Midge's outfits are (although "fancy" is relative with Susie).
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries devotes a lot of attention to Phryne's gorgeous Roaring Twenties outfits (although she doesn't spurn dressing dingy if she needs to go undercover).
  • Murdoch Mysteries is very clean for 1895 Toronto. While many of the characters are middle- or upper-class, they still really shouldn't be that pristine.
  • On The Musketeers, which takes place in 17th century Paris (like the novels it's based on), this trope is usually true for high-class women, in particular Queen Anne and Milady de Winter.
  • Nirvana in Fire: Like all Chinese period dramas the series has plenty of beautiful costumes. The Empress takes the cake with her Cool Crown, while Jingyan, Nihuang and Mei Changsu are no slouches in the fashion department either.
  • Princess Agents: Yuan Chun's blue and red costumes are just the start of this series' beautiful clothes.
  • The Princess Wei Young: And how! Some examples: this red costume, this blue costume and Xin Er wearing it, the costume Xin Er wears as empress, and this blue costume.
  • Queen for Seven Days has some very fancy costumes. Special mention goes to Lee Yung's feathered hat.
  • Totally averted by Queen Mary and her ladies in waiting in Reign. What are those girls wearing anyway, consignment store prom dresses?
  • The HBO series Rome also combines this with The Dung Ages. The patrician dinner party will be wall-to-wall jeweled dresses and lavishly decorated togas, but if you're a member of the lower classes, prepare for burlap tunics and a generous layer of filth.
    • This was historically accurate, if the filth of the poor was a bit over-exaggerated. The Romans believed in daily bathing and clean clothes. Slaves weren't expected to have expensive clothes but house slaves were expected to keep themselves clean, if only so that they wouldn't stink up the house. The average modern would be more comfortable in Caesar's Rome than in Regency England.
  • Scholar Who Walks the Night has plenty of gorgeous Joseon-era costumes, especially Gwi's embroidered robe.
  • The 2003 Italian TV miniseries Soraya, starring Anna Valle and based on the ill-fated romance and marriage of Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari and the Shah of Iran, positively drips this trope. Valle and the other leading actresses are dressed in stunning 1950s haute-couture dresses and gowns by Dior and other leading couturiers of the era.
  • A feature of many shows by Bambú Producciones, but Gran Hotel, Velvet, and Alta Mar stand out.
  • The Queen's Gambit: When heroine Beth starts making money from her Chess matches, she starts to dress in the most elegant high fashions of The '60s, while surrounded by (mostly) dapper men in tailored suits. This contrasts sharply with her childhood in an orphanage where she and the other girls where identical dour shifts.

  • This is a good example of Gorgeous Period Dress on the nineteenth-century stage, describing what some of the extras were wearing in a production of Richard III.
  • Cirque du Soleil's Corteo is about the performers of a turn-of-the-20th-century European circus, so it invokes this trope.
  • Pick a Kabuki number, any one of them.
  • Opera, constantly.
    • The Met Opera's 2015 production of The Merry Widow has a ton of this, since it's about fancy balls in Paris.
  • Zigzagged in Hamilton. Jefferson, the Schuyler sisters, King George III, and even Hamilton in his later life have opulent, brightly-colored clothing. Most of the cast, on the other hand, has simple army uniforms or plain tan Revolutionary-era clothing - especially in "Alexander Hamilton", when the entire cast wears colorless beige, but otherwise generally period-correct, clothing. Some female cast members are even reduced to tights and corsets, averting the trope entirely.
  • Elisabeth usually features gorgeous replicas of the historical Empress' clothing, especially the Star Dress.
  • Takarazuka Revue busts out this trope every time they do a period musical (that is to say, very frequently, given that two of their popular offerings are The Rose of Versailles and the aforementioned Elisabeth). Otokoyaku (male role actresses) also get in on the glitter act with regalia.

  • The American Girls Collection is this trope in spades. Every doll has several associated outfits, historically accurate, and most of them gorgeous dresses. Every doll has at least one fancy dress that's bright and elegant.

    Video Games 
  • Played with in Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. The character Saint Germain has Gorgeous Period Dress that's used specifically to make him seem even more bizarre and out-of-place. Not only is it an anachronistic example of it—being of an 1800s gentleman style in a game set in the late 1400s—but no one else in the game uses it fully. Only one other character has an even borderline case, and hers is far more muted and "realistic". Other characters tend towards relatively mundane attire or Impossibly Cool Clothes.
  • In Guild Wars, Gorgeous Period Dress is the visual hallmark of the Mesmer class, as opposed to Stripperific Elementalists, heavily armored warriors, rangers in sensible leather, and so on and so forth.
  • Primal: Jen loses her vambrace and must attend a masked ball in a Gorgeous Period Dress and hair. She then vamps the key out of Count Raum.
  • Some characters in the Dark Tales games, which are all set in the 19th century, dress this way. The laundress in Murders in the Rue Morgue observes that the murder victim's entire wardrobe consisted of opulent gowns. Dupin himself is well-dressed in his younger appearances, particularly in Morella, where his suit appears to be made of velvet; the player character in that same game, who is female, looks to be wearing a dress with white lace sleeves, suggesting that she might be similarly attired. (Her hands and arms are all that is ever seen.)

  • Lackadaisy features some of its female characters in gorgeous flapper dresses from The Roaring '20s.
  • During the ballroom scene in Volume 4 of Mayonaka Densha both Hatsune and Jessica Queen are wearing 1880's ballgowns.
  • The Phoenix Requiem likes this trope. Especially the main character Anya, who always wear these. Justified because of the Gaslamp Fantasy setting.
  • In Questionable Content, there's a local theme bar that provides Gorgeous Period Dress to customers on request. Imagine the possibilities... (just not the ones Hanners is). Wil having his own set lands him a job there.
  • Muneca Powell of the Pacificators dresses exclusively in period Victorian dress. She stands out as the comic takes place 20 Minutes into the Future. She dresses like this to hide her extensive burn scars.
  • Jones of Gunnerkrigg Court wears several of these throughout the Flashback pages of "The Stone", until thousands of years ago when the only thing anyone wore was loincloths.

    Western Animation 
  • Upon entering the Diamond Castle, Liana and Alexa's peasant dresses are instantly transformed into Gorgeous Princess Dresses.
  • The An American Tail series, taking place during the 1880s, features these with the more wealthy female characters.


Video Example(s):


Lucario and the Mystery of Mew

Ash and the gang choose clothes for the Cameran Palace competition while Pikachu encounters a transformed Mew.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / GorgeousPeriodDress

Media sources:

Main / GorgeousPeriodDress