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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.

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


Examples:

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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.
  • 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 a 18th century dress, but accidently 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 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.
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    Film — Live-Action 
  • Happens in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, when the Baroness is launched into the air from Chitty's Ejection Seat.
  • 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, only to drift back down. (Then again, since she was dancing the cancan earlier, we'd already seen her petti's...)

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

    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.)

    Video Games 
  • Princess Zelda in Super Smash Bros. can use this to slow and control descents after being hit up.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Similar to the above, Beatrice can pull this maneuver off in Umineko Golden Fantasia, making it handy for avoiding further punishment.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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, 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 do a parachute petticoat.
  • 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 the bearded man'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.

    Real Life 

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