In a nutshell, a dress made with a whole bunch of fancy trimmings, and/or materials, just to make it look pretty.
- To clearly show the wealth and/or social status of the lady wearing it.
- To make the lady wearing it look good.
In fiction, there are also two simultaneous purposes.
- To clearly show the wealth/social status of the lady wearing it, or to show that She Cleans Up Nicely (especially with Princess for a Day).
- So that the artist or costumer can show off.
Now the exact form of the dress doesn't matter. It can apply to grand, sweeping gowns, or mini dresses. What matters is the heavy use of fancy materials or decorations (which can be expensive, even today).
Some of the most common gown pimping options include:
- Many, many yards of cloth, including layers of skirts, capes, trains, and long hanging sleeves
- Puffs, including Giant Poofy Sleeves
- Slashes, Puffs pulled through slashes, and Goring (folds of fabric sewn in between slashes)
- Frills, flounces, ruffles, and pleats
- Lace and gauze.
- Embroidery and Brocade
- Tassles or Fringes
- A corset or bustier (visible or just holding up the fancy bodice)
- Several layers of petticoats, sleeves, or other parts of the dress.
- A frame to hold the skirt in shape (most common were farthingales, panniers, crinolines, and bustles)
- A Reticella collar or lace ruff
- Bloomers worn underneath the dress (sometimes visible, sometimes not)
- Flowers (real or fake)
- Jewelry (or anything that makes sparkles)
- Jewels sewn into the dress
- Gold or Silver Lamé
- Fur (trimming the dress, or even lining it for warmth)
- A large, fancy design or symbol, or lots of smaller symbols
- Gloves (long, especially High-Class Gloves, or short depending on the sleeve length and/or neckline). Usually white, but can be worn in colors to match or contrast with the dress.
- A matching Hand Muff, Cape, Stole, Hat and/or other accessories.
- Fancy Hair Decorations
- Veil (whether the large ones for weddings or the smaller ones attached to hats)
- Bouquet (for wedding dresses, and other occasions depending on the culture)
- A parasol (depending on the period)
- If possible, incorporating some of the Requisite Royal Regalia (especially if the wearer is a queen or a princess)
Now there is no real objective line between this and a regular evening dress, so it's more a manner of how obvious it is the dress is pimped out. Say a lady has an evening dress with a fancy design embroidered onto a small part of the skirt. Fancy and stylish, but it's not that obvious, even when you see the skirt. So it wouldn't be this kind of dress. If most or all of the dress was instead almost covered in embroidered designs, it would be this trope.
Sometimes a character with a Clothes Make the Legend dress uses this trope to make her dress fancier, while still keeping its iconic look.
This trope might conceivably apply to men's clothes, but in fiction, this type of outfit is usually reserved for either known historical uses, based off those uses, or else characters who are outright fops. Of course, a guy who is any sort of Crossdresser may play the trope completely straight simply by copying female fashion—for the most obvious, the Drag Queen almost always loves this kind of glamorous and ultra-feminine dress, and indeed is likely to wear clothes like this much more often than most women in modern times.
This will show up more often when combined with princesses, especially Princess Classic. In any setting where elves are present, and clothes are described, about every other outfit is likely to be given loads of details. It's highly likely that all clothes female dark elves wear will be this, including when they are a Sharp Dressed Woman. There are also quite a few games on the web which involve using sprites to make Virtual Paper Dolls, which allow mixing and matching to make pimped out dresses.
Real Life Fashion designers still love to make these, whether they are the impractical dresses on runways, or the slightly more practical dresses on red carpet events.
A Super-Trope to:
- Battle Ballgown
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- Frills of Justice
- Happy Holidays Dress
- Sexy Santa Dress
- Tutu Fancy
There are a lot of Sister Tropes, as this can overlap with them all:
- Bling of War
- Elegant Gothic Lolita (required for the "elegant" part)
- Ermine Cape Effect
- The Fashionista
- Frilly Upgrade (pimping out a heroine's current outfit)
- Gorgeous Garment Generation
- Gorgeous Period Dress
- Graceful Ladies Like Purple
- Impossibly Cool Clothes
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery
- Limited Wardrobe
- Little Black Dress
- Mini Dress Of Power (often those dresses will still be pimped out)
- Nice Hat
- Nice Shoes
- Pink Means Feminine
- Pimped-Out Cape
- Princesses Prefer Pink
- Spikes of Villainy (pimping out a villain's outfit)
- Rummage Sale Reject (in that these dresses can be very hard to Cosplay)
- Stylish Protection Gear
- True Blue Femininity
- Unlimited Wardrobe
- Virtual Paper Doll
Compare Pimped-Out Car.
Compare/Contrast Simple, yet Opulent.
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