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Parachute Petticoat

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Falling is a very unladylike activity on the whole. There's lots of tumbling and screaming, your hair and clothes get ruined, and there's the danger people below may see your underwear. This trope offers an alternative for the more ladylike and feminine of tumblers, especially Princess characters with a Pimped-Out Dress. Basically, a character's dress or skirt flares out in mid-air, forming a parachute shape and somehow slowing their descent.

The thicker and more layered the material the better. Don't worry about terminal velocities and drag coefficients (see Puny Parachute); the laws of physics tend to give way to the opportunity to see a slightly comical petticoat exposure.

Incredibly, this trope is somewhat a Truth in Television. Hoop skirts (crinolines) did have a tendency to catch airstream and act like a drogue chute. There are cases of women on piers that were swept up by a gust of wind and carried out to sea. It was also a bad idea to hang around cliffs or tall buildings in this sort of contraption.

Often a form of Improvised Parachute, but just as often it's accidental. Compare Parasol Parachute (often found on similar sorts of characters).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played with in Macross Delta. The members of Walkure routinely end up falling, particularly during the final battle. Their fancy idol outfits do a lot to break their fall long enough for rescue to arrive......because their skirts are rigged with tiny thrusters that function as an emergency parachute. It creates the illusion of this trope since the devices are hidden underneath and flare the skirts out further.
  • This happens to Miyuki when she is falling in the second part of Miyuki-chan in Wonderland. Miyuki's skirt billows out like a parachute after she holds it down, causing her to rock back and forth for a few moments before falling fast again.
  • Zia in the The Mysterious Cities of Gold episode, "Back To Barcelona Part 2". Her dress spreads out briefly when she drops down from a tree.
  • Cosmo in Sonic X is a no brainer. Because she is a plant, this makes it a unique one.

    Comic Books 
  • Jet Dream: In one story, Marlene's dress billows out into a "Tunic Chute" to save her from falling off a cliff to her death. Technically not "improvised," but a piece of spy gear designed for the purpose. It's a pretty goofy design, though, and one of the less "ladylike" examples, as just about any angle other than that chosen by the artist would give Marlene "full exposure." See Marlene's Tunic Chute in all its glory.
  • A Lilo & Stitch comic from Disney Adventures' Comic Zone has the characters playing with "jump jelly," goop that acts as a super-trampoline if charged with electricity. When Pleakley tries it, he wears one of Nani's dresses as a safety precaution. Stitch turns the electricity up and Pleakley bounces extra-high, using the dress as a parachute to float back down with.
  • Suske en Wiske: In the story "De Kaartendans", this happens to Wiske when she dresses up in an 18th-century dress, but accidentally trips over it and tumbles out the window. She makes a safe landing outside, and even remarks that this must be how the parachute was originally invented.

    Film — Animated 
  • The falling scene as Alice falls down the rabbit hole as her dress balloons out like a parachute which causes her to float in Disney's version of Alice in Wonderland (seen here). This trope is used to explain why she falls slowly enough to look around her and ruminate on the whole situation, which in the book goes unexplained.
    • It was also used for Brooke Shields's guest appearance on The Muppet Show where she sang as Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
    • It also happened in the 1988 Burbank Films Australia version.
  • In Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Belle's dress balloons out for a very brief moment to slow her descent during "Stories". That said, Belle's dress acting as a parachute was only part of a storybook-like sequence and Belle does not actually float down with her dress in the movie's main story.
  • In Ralph Breaks the Internet, this happens to Vanellope after descending from the sky during "Slaughter Race", and the princesses use 4 dresses to make a parachute to save Ralph.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie Peach does this after reaching the flagpole in the obstacle course.
  • In Walt Disney's Peter Pan, Wendy Darling's blue nightgown balloons out for a moment despite having no petticoats as she lands on the Big Ben's hand during "You Can Fly"!.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • During the boxing match at the end of The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, one of the fighters is slammed into the crowd with such force that one of the saloon girls is catapulted skyward, her pink-striped skirt used as a parachute, only to drift back down. (Then again, since she was dancing the cancan earlier, we'd already seen her petti's...). Also, an animated sequence of Arabella Flagg lands safely after getting off the boat.
  • Happens in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, when the Baroness is launched into the air from Chitty's Ejection Seat with her dress ballooning out to slow down her fall. It only stops being a parachute when her husband shoots her dress.
  • Cruella gives us a literal example near the end of the film when Estella saves herself from an impromptu cliff-dive with a dress whose skirt can detach to become a functional, steerable parachute. Albeit an eclectic one, as it retains the intrinsic shape of a flattened skirt instead of (un)folding into a rectangular shape.

  • In Angels & Demons, Robert Langdon has to bail out of a helicopter over Rome and uses his sport coat to slow himself enough to not die by landing in the nearby river.
  • One of the reasons Mistborn avoid dresses is the tendency to do this when they're Roof Hopping.
  • Happens in the novel Superfolks by Robert Mayer, with the added revelation that the lady in question wasn't wearing underwear.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first episode of Jack of All Trades, Jack rescues President Jefferson's niece from a French fort in Canada. To escape the fort, Jack and the girl jump off a high cliff. They are saved because Jack grabs on to her feet and her dress billows out to form a parachute showing her bloomers(Jack also gets an excellent view of her petticoats.)

    Myths and Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: Heracles raided the kingdom of Oechalia to seek revenge for King Eurytus refusing to give him his daughter Princess Iole even after he won an Engagement Challenge. After Heracles killed her father and brothers, Iole tried to escape by jumping from the city wall. Her dress acted as a parachute so she landed safely. Alas, Heracles caught up to her and claimed her as a concubine.

    Video Games 
  • Alice of American McGee's Alice uses her dress as a parachute to ride steam.
    • And in the sequel, three of her four possible jumps involve this trope as a way to cross long distances.
  • Rachel Alucard in BlazBlue. Ironically, although she wields an umbrella (a cat which turns into one, no less), she doesn't often use a Parasol Parachute, except in her intro poses and a special animation if you hold the strong attack button in the air (there's basically no advantage to using it, though, so you'll rarely ever see it.)
  • Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2 uses this to hover in the air and make long jumps, with it since becoming a signature ability of the character that has appeared regularly, most notably in Super Mario 3D World (where she can do it even without a dress) and the Super Smash Bros. series. In the latter, it's implied that this is a magic ability (note the sparklies around her dress when she does it). Other times, she just uses her parasol.
    • Toadette's "Super Crown" which transforms her into a Princess Peach lookalike named Peachette in New Super Mario Bros. U can use this to slow and control descents after being hit up.
    • In Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, while not a gameplay feature, Peach's dress does this again in the cut-scene after uncorking Terra Flora's water volcano.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga after the Mario Bros. trick Bowletta by having Luigi use a spare dress of Princess Peach to disguise himself as her, after being kidnapped to her airborne Koopa Cruiser, Luigi makes his escape by using the dress as a parachute.
  • Beatrice can pull this maneuver off in Umineko: Golden Fantasia, making it handy for avoiding further punishment.
  • Alice uses her dress as a parachute in Disney Infinity.
  • This happens to Alice in the Game Boy Color game Alice in Wonderland and in the Nintendo 3DS game Disney Magical World 2.
  • This happens in the Game Boy Advance game Disney Princess to 4 princesses Snow White, Belle, Aurora (as Briar Rose), and Cinderella after they drop down from a distance.
  • Alice's dress balloons out like a parachute in the flash game "Adventures in Wonderland" when you slow down.

  • Electric Wonderland: Shroomy's dress acts as one after she jumps out of a window in "The Search For Parker," but it collapses after Aerynn grabs her.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Plane Crazy", Minnie Mouse's bloomers deploy like a parachute.
  • It happened to Ortensia in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short "Oh What a Knight".
  • Baby Piggy in Muppet Babies (1984), as she told her version of the Lewis Carroll story, had this happen to her own Alice character, her dress taking a parachute-like means as she fell down a rabbit-, er, I mean tadpole-hole.
  • In Jem, one of the Misfits videos "Lovesick" had Pizzazz fall from a chair from an entrance to a house and her skirt is used as a parachute for a few seconds, and then she falls back to the yellow brick road.
  • At the end of the Kim Possible half-episode "Rufus in Show" Kim presses a button so her spy suit becomes a dress to serve this function, and is motorized compared to all the others.
  • Rugrats had Chuckie and Phil try this while wearing dresses for the first time. It actually worked for a second.
  • The Backyardigans, in the episode Breakout!, Uniqua and Tasha as the princesses trying to escape from the castle, in one part, the two fly out of a ceiling window and they deploy their dresses as parachutes the float down safely.
  • Animaniacs did this is one Mindy & Buttons cartoon which spoofed Alice in Wonderland.
  • A male variation: the Looney Tunes short "Injun Trouble" has Sloppy Moe's suspenders serving as a parachute.
  • This happens in some Terrytoons shorts.
  • This happens to Olive Oyl while wearing a wedding dress in an episode of Popeye & Son.
  • Princess Gwendolyn from Gawayn in "The Way We Used To Be, Part 1". After a horse pulling a cart comes to a halt, she, Sir Roderick, Elspeth, William, and Xiao Long are launched into the air. Princess Gwendolyn's dress gets an updraft, revealing her pink undies and breaking her fall before she slowly descends safely.
  • In The Twisted Talesof Felix The Cat episode, "Felix Breaks The Bank" when Candy is falling quickly, she comes to an abrupt stop for a moment, as a sudden draft up her skirt causes it to billow like a parachute. She manages to keep her skirt from rising any higher, as she looks at the camera and audience, giggles coyly and descends slowly, and safely.
  • Molly Coddle in the Bump in the Night episode, "Party Poopers". While she and Mr. Bumpy are falling, her dress suddenly puffs up and becomes longer, as Mr. Bumpy holds on to her leg and they descend, and land, safely.
  • In the 1981 Russian film Alisa v Strane Chudes, when Alice follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole, she suddenly falls and her dress acts as a parachute, when suddenly a gust of wind causes it to be inside out covering her face.
    • The Alice in Hanna-Barbera's 1966 special Alice In Wonderland, or: What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? effects this even though she's in a dress a normal little girl in 1966 would wear. Here she's holding her skirt and slip down as she slowly descends the rabbit hole, only billowing up from the rear.
  • In the Pucca, episode "Chef-Napped!", when Pucca and Garu are falling down a trap door, Pucca's dress billows like a parachute, causing her to float safely.
  • Beauty and the Beast (1934) has a variant where the pajama-clad little girl has her descent slowed down by having her dropseat function as a parachute, exposing her bottom in the process.
  • Elena of Avalor In the episode "Heart of the Jaguar" Princess Isabel was shrunken by her cowardice and fell through a trap hole set by the jaguar when attempting to trade the heart of the jaguar for the crown jewel, her skirt acts as a parachute during the fall, slowing her descent.
  • Mickey and the Roadster Racers In the episode "Sittin' Kitty", when Minnie and Daisy are thrown off the branch and sent falling, Minnie uses her skirt as a parachute.
  • Minnie's Bow-Toons, when Minnie and Clarabelle are falling off a loop-de-loop of a roller coaster, Minnie's dress billows out like a parachute as Clarabelle continues to fall.
  • Team Umizoomi Milli's dress balloons out briefly for a few seconds despite having no petticoats when she jumps in the episodes "The Rolling Toy Parade", "Special Delivery", "The Butterfly Dance Show", "The Elephant Sprinkler", "Playground Heroes", "Favorite Things Show", "The Big Boat Race" , "Shark Car", and "Umi Toy Store". This serves as a Shout-Out to Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland.
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: In "School Daze", this happens to Sabrina when she escapes from an air vent.
  • Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series, the opening credits has Anne arriving in Green Gables in this manner as part of her imagination spot.

    Real Life 
  • The cage crinoline of the mid-1850s and the 1860s. Prior to the crinoline, big skirts were supported by several layers of petticoats, which were hot and heavy for the wearer and would become floppy over time. The crinoline would alleviate these problems, yet the caveat would be that the skirts would be picked up by heavy winds due to the lightweightedness, exposing their bloomers, and the wide, sturdy frame of the cage would be a hassle for narrow doorways.
  • Widely believed to have saved Sarah Ann Henley's life. On 8 May 1885, Henley attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the deck of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, and thanks to a combination of strong updrafts of wind slowing her fall, as well as the soft silt and sand on the shore exposed by low tide, she survived the fall of over 75 metres from the bridge to the Bristol side of the River Avon.