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A very common element of a Ship Tease, when a man helps a woman zip up or down her dress. Has the charm of being innocuous and platonic on the surface, but brings the Theiss Titillation Theory into full effect—the fact that the dress is just partially on lends a great deal of UST.

Alice asks Bob to zip her dress up. Her back is bared to him. She lifts her hair out of the way so it won't be caught, baring her neck as well. As he zips her up he the speaks quietly to her, lips close to her ear. After the task is complete, he pauses for a moment, finger lingering over her shoulder.

Non-Indicative Name—this also work with clasps, buttons, snaps, or anything that could possibly reveal her back. Another variation involves fastening a necklace, frequently a necklace that he gifted to her moments before.

Can't Tie His Tie applies a similar Ship Tease element to traditional male attire. For another excuse to stand just behind your love interest and touch them, see Hands-On Approach.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Sister Princess the main character Wataru does this to Sakuya… one of his sisters… huh…
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: While changing into a hospital gown to prepare for her prosthetic body switch, Motoko Kusanagi asks her female companion Kurutan (there to witness the body swap) to zip her up, the point of the exercise ultimately being an excuse to show the Major's backside on screen.
  • Quon in RahXephon. She had just come out of a medical checkup and already had on a dress, but needed another person to secure her medical vest. Not that this was apparent to Ayato. Odd, considering said clasps are on the front of her vest, yet she needs someone else to help her, and the clasps must be fastened from behind.
  • In the first episode The Case Files of Yakushiji Ryoko, Ryoko uses this to torment her lackey Izumida (again), and even says the line.
  • Sailor Moon made a joke out of this in Sailor Stars. Seiya is introduced to Michiru by Usagi, and later goes into her dressing room by himself. When he says he wants to get to know her better, she asks him to help unzip her dress. After Haruka comes in and essentially drives Seiya out, Michiru makes the same request of her.
  • In the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga, Kushana asks Nausicaa to fasten her armour at one point.
  • Omamori Himari: Himari tries to invoke this trope while shopping for clothes. Unfortunately for her hopes of getting a few ecchi moments with her master, Yuuto remembers that she already has experience with western clothing, invalidating her excuse for needing his help.
  • Early in the Victorian Period Piece Goodbye, My Rose Garden, Alice has her maid Hanako try on several outfits. At one point she helps her into a corset, lacing it up while mentioning being jealous of her "soft, supple hips."

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd spinoff comic The Fall of Deadworld features a scene of a Sensual Slav asking an American official who's been working with the Sovs to zip her dress up before her boss (the Sov president) comes over. It's promptly and violently subverted as her boss declares the traitorous official has outlived his usefulness, with the woman (actually a Sov soldier) beating him to death with a golf club.
  • Wonder Woman: The Contest contains a fair amount of Ship Tease between the Amazons, a standout example being Mala's compliments and loyalty to Diana, and the fact that she evidently sat four feet away and watched her princess get changed before Diana asked her to come help her with the last clasp on her gown.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Judy (dolled up as Madeleine, Scottie's dead lover) asks Scottie to clasp a necklace for her. This is the turning point in the movie, since Scottie recognizes the necklace from when Judy was Madeleine and realizes that the real Madeleine was murdered and everything begins to unravel.
  • James Bond:
  • Janine does the zipping for Louis in Ghostbusters II. It's a very romantic scene.
  • A variation occurs in The Last Samurai when Taka helps Algren on with his robe and armor.
  • Used in Saving Silverman with Sandy's (rather Stripperiffic) nun's habit.
  • A variation occurs in the 2010 Robin Hood movie, when Robin asks for Marion's help in getting out of his chain mail. Justified here, as the armor of the period frequently did require an extra pair of hands to get into and out of, and they were pretending to be husband and wife anyway.
  • In Killers, Jen asks Spencer to help her because her zipper is stuck. After Jen gives him permission, he destroys the dress with his knife.
  • In Phffft!, a very flustered Jack Lemmon has to zip up the tantalizing Kim Novak.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: Ginny shows up in the Burrow's kitchen with her back exposed, asking Harry to zip her up. Needless to say, Harry (and the audience, to some extent) are taken by surprise. Despite not being particularly revealing, the scene is actually quite steamy, and the two share a passionate kiss after—which is interrupted by one of her brothers casually wandering by.
  • In The Graduate, though Mrs. Robinson actually asks to be un-zipped.
  • Shows up in Josie and the Pussycats. Alan M. even drops his guitar and a pizza box to help Josie fix her dress.
  • Possibly the oldest film example is Gilda, in which The Vamp tells a whole crowd of men she always has trouble with zippers in order to make her husband jealous.
  • A zip-down example occurs in Calamity Jane when the title character comes home from a ball with her friend Bill Hickok. Calamity, heartbroken and burning up with jealousy after seeing Katie Brown and Danny Gilmartin kissing, is just trying to get off all the clothes Katie lent to her as fast as she can. As she is unaccustomed to taking off fancier apparel and currently in a rather tight dress, she tells Bill to help her undo it. Which he does. Unique example in that while it happens between the two main characters with Belligerent Sexual Tension, it's not played up for the Unresolved Sexual Tension at all. In fact, she starts ranting to him about her romantic rival (previously friend), Katie, while he does it.
  • The zip-down version occurs in Colossus: The Forbin Project. Doctors Forbin and Markham are pretending to be lovers in order to have a conversation outside of Colossus' surveillance. The AI will not allow them to take anything to the bedroom, including their clothes. Both characters have to disrobe in front of Colossus' camera, while trying to pretend their interaction is entirely natural.
  • On two different occasions in The Palm Beach Story Gerry asks Tom's help to get out of a dress, and sexy times ensue.
  • In The Best Offer, the hero's love interest Claire needs help with the zipper of her new dress and he gladly comes to assist.
  • Smarty: Vicki isn't the least bit subtle about it, asking for help buttoning up her dress — which is a Sexy Backless Outfit, so guess where the buttons are — then asking for Tony to do it instead of Anita on the dubious grounds that Anita's hands are too cold.
    Vicki: You've always been a great hooker-upper.
  • In Circus of Fear Gina asks her unseen (and silent) lover to finish zipping up her costume for her before she goes on for the last show before the circus closes for the winter.
  • In Johnny Reno, Nona asks her ex-lover Johnny to button up the back of her dress after she gets out of the bath. Leads to this exchange:
    Johnny: I haven't done this for a long time.
    Nona: Are you boasting, or complaining?
  • In A Gunfight, after a heated exchange in Abe's room, Jenny gets Abe to button up the back of dress before she leaves. Abe does it without really thinking about what he is doing.
  • In The Handmaiden one of Sook-hee's duties is to help Hideko out of her dress and corset. If the camera lingering on Sook-hee's hands slowly undoing the long row of buttons isn't enough to clue the audience into the palpable sexual tension, her inner monologue confirms it:
    Sook-hee: Ladies truly are the dolls of maids. All these buttons are for my amusement. If I undo the buttons and pull out the cords, then, the sweet things within, those sweet and soft things… If I were still a pickpocket I’d slip my hand inside.
  • In Sunburn (1979), Ellie asks Jake to tie the back of a skimpy top for her before a party.
  • Death Walks on High Heels: The first time Robert visits Nicole is in her dressing room following her strip act. She gives him a polite brushoff while asking him to zip up her dress.
  • A variation occurs in Little Women (2019). After a conversation in her art studio, Amy asks Laurie to untie her smock so she can get ready to meet Fred. Laurie complies, and the camera lingers on his hands as he does. It's the moment he finally realizes that he's in love with Amy.
  • The Back-up Plan has an uncommon version: the action in question is a man removing the store tag that his date forgot to remove from her new dress. Aside from that variation it's played very straight: she pulls her hair aside to bare her neck, he stands behind her and removes the tag, it's all very USTy.
  • Other Men's Women: A rare male example. Lily notices that Bill, her husband's best friend, is wearing a shirt with a missing button. Bill says it's no big deal, but Lily insists on sewing a button onto Bill's shirt, while he is still wearing it. Their first kiss and an Anguished Declaration of Love follow immediately.

  • I Was a Teenaged T-Rex, which had four teenagers flung back in time and into the bodies of dinosaurs, had the girl who'd become a Protoceratops — and who wanted to wear clothes despite having nothing to cover — tell this line to the boy who'd become a Tyrannosaurus rex. He couldn't tie her shell brassiere with his tiny arms, so the girl who'd become a Quetzalocoatlus did it instead. The first girl ended up with the boy who'd become an Ankylosaur.
  • Occurs between spouses Nick and Nora Charles in the Sharon Lee and Steve Miller short story "A Night at the Opera".
  • This leads to Nathan and Clarissa's first night in bed together in the Sword of Truth books
  • A somewhat disturbing example of this occurs in Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted: Mother Nature asks her self-appointed love interest to help zip her up… because she doesn't have enough fingers to do it herself. She and her companions have been cutting off parts of their fingers to garner sympathy from others.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done in The 4400 after Tom and Meghan had sex. She mocks his squeamishness, pointing out that he'd "seen it all before." Hilarious Outtakes from that scene: Joel Gretsch (Tom) was struggling with the zipper, and after the line "this will only be weird if we let it," complains "well, we won't, 'cause I can't get this thing up! (beat) The zipper." They both nod seriously for a moment and then crack up.
  • Played comically in The Adventures of Pete & Pete; Ellen has Pete help her zip up her full-body bunny costume that she has to wear for her job as a pizza delivery girl.
  • Arrested Development:
    • The most frequent person Lucille asks to zip her up is her sons. Their reactions are characteristic of their personalities. Momma's Boy Buster always dutifully obliges; G.O.B., The Unfavorite, finds her request "utterly macabre".
    • In one episode, "Motherboy XXX," this bit of dialog occurs while Buster is trying to rescue George-Michael from having to zip Lucille up:
      Michael: Buster, you can't zip-line over there.
      Buster: Either I zip down, or he zips up, and that is a mighty long zipper on Mother's Cher jumpsuit. You have to get on your knees to start it.
      Michael: This is much less scary. Godspeed, Buster.
  • Done in reverse in an episode of Eureka where the magi-tech dress that Allison is wearing has short circuited and she can't get it off without having Carter unzip her.
  • The Fixer: In the pilot, Lenny buttons up the back of Rose's Little Black Dress. She comments that he's "One of the few men I can trust not to grab my ass" while doing this trope.
  • In Frasier, this is a Running Gag during the long period of Unresolved Sexual Tension which Niles feels for an oblivious Daphne. On one occassion he even manages to get his tie caught up in the zip of her dress. Even after Niles and Daphne get it together, there is a scene where she asks him to zip her up; as she has been putting on weight, he finds this impossible and suggests Daphne sacks her dry cleaner, as this is the third dress that has shrunk in the wash in a week.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a character named Jewel uses this as a seduction technique on Will. Made worse by the fact that 1) she's his best friend Jazz's fiancée, and 2) the dress he's helping her with is her wedding dress.
  • Friends:
    • Played with in one episode where Rachel asks Joey to help zip her dress. Of course, Joey being Joey her next line is simply, "UP!"
    • One Flashback Episode shows Rachel and Monica getting ready for the prom. Rachel asks Ross' help zipping up her Giant Poofy Sleeves dress. He lingers as he does it, as this is possibly the first time he's ever touched her, even if it is her shoulders.
    • Used later in the series when Phoebe enters Central Perk asking Ross to zip up her dress ready for her date (though this was likely to have been used in an un-Ship Tease way).
      Phoebe: Can you believe no-one from my place to here offered to do that for me?
      Ross: People.
  • Gotham Knights (2023): As part of their general Ship Tease, Duela asks Turner to do this for her in "Belly of the Beast" once they've changed into formalwear for infiltrating the Court of Owls' gala.
  • House of the Dragon: In the pilot Daemon gives Rhaenyra a necklace, then pulls it out of her hands and tells her, "Turn around," so that he can put it on her himself. She's wearing her hair down and she pulls it aside for him, baring her neck. He murmurs in her ear as he puts it on her. This is an Establishing Character Moment for their USTy relationship.
  • Jane the Virgin: In episode 2.04, Jane asks Michael—her ex who she still has feeling for—to zip her up. She pulls her hair aside. The UST is put on pause for a moment when he struggles to zip it up all the way (she just had a baby and her weight is in flux) but after that the UST resumes. They then have an intimate whispered conversation where they both reveal things.
  • Leverage:
    • Played perfectly straight in "The Wedding Job" when Parker enlists Hardison to zip up her bridesmaid's dress.
    • And then again in "The Rashomon Job", during a narrative device when Sophie, during a flashback, enlists Nate, who is the narrator.
  • Mad Men:
    • Joan Holloway always asks her lovers to zip her up when she's getting dressed.
    • In the same show, Betty Draper sometimes has her daughter Sally zip up her fancier dresses. This might count as a subversion, as whether or not Don is there at the time, it serves as reminder of their quietly-troubled marriage (and Betty's continuous living on the verge of a nervous breakdown).
  • M*A*S*H: Parodied in the "Abyssinia, Henry" episode, when the departing Henry offers to zip Klinger's dress. "Up, sir!"
  • My So-Called Life, where Delia has Rickie help her zip up her jacket… just moments before she opens his closet door.
  • NCIS:
    • In the episode "Shalom", the female assassin gets her male partner (whom she is about to double-cross) to help her put on her necklace. Little does he know that while her back is turned, she is readying her gun. "Careful... it's delicate..." are the last words he ever hears.
    • Ziva walks into the men's room and actually zips up Tony's fly, presumably as a way of putting the Handsome Lech off his stride.
  • Attempted on One Life to Live. Tina attempts to seduce her husband Cord (he's furious, having discovered that she's been having an affair), by asking him to zip up her dress. He sees right through her act and snaps at her to do it herself.
  • In the Spin City episode "Dick Clark's Rockin' Make-Out Party '99", Priscilla Presley's character Marie asks for James to unzip the back of her red dress as a seduction technique.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, it is used to show how Seven of Nine has No Social Skills (as well as give some fanservice):
      Seven of Nine: I am unfamiliar with how to wear such a garment. [goes to un-do her zipper] Assist me.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, getting ready for the holosuite in "Badda Bing, Badda Bang," Odo zips up Kira's dress and kisses her shoulder along the way.
  • 30 Rock:
    • Averted by Liz Lemon. Liz offers as evidence of her self-sufficiency that she can zip up her own dresses. A Cutaway Gag reveals this involves inventive use of her treadmill's panic clip.
    • Also employed in a Ship Tease moment — Jack follows Liz into her apartment after attending a fancy birthday party together. He leans into her and she believes a kiss is coming — but he's only reaching behind her neck to remove the necklace he loaned her for the night.
  • In the Titans episode "Together", Kory asks Dick to zip up her dress after they sleep together for the first time.
  • Used straight on Ugly Betty with Daniel and Molly, even though it was a side zipper that she should have been able to zip up herself. It can be challenging for women with large breasts to zip things on the side — less maneuverability and if the zipper comes up to your waist or higher you can't even see it. It's doable, but gets awkward.
  • The necklace version of this trope is used in Vikings, in which King Ecbert presents Lagertha with a necklace and gently clasps it around her neck, complete with arranging her hair over the top of it.
  • Helps lead to Alfred and Aurora's first kiss in X Company.
  • You (2018): Knowing that she has a lot of sexual tension with "Jonathan", Kate asks him to untangle her necklaces. What follows is a scene that focuses on Joe touching her neck (complete with soft music), followed by a quick makeout session.

    Visual Novels 
  • A premium scene in the first season of Nikolai's route in Queen of Thieves wrings the trope for all the sexual tension it can possibly stand. As Nikolai and the heroine are mutually attracted to each other, both well aware of it, and each determined to make the other crack first, they end up baiting one another by requesting help with a whole series of various articles of clothing, from the heroine suggesting Nikolai help her out of her dress through Nikolai having her tuck in his shirt. The inevitable, iconic zipper moment receives a special close-up illustration to enhance the effect.

  • Let's Get Divorced!: Chapter 33: Han-gyeol has to unzip his contract wife's wedding gown. They've already developed nebulous feelings for each other, so the moment is very tense.
  • In Madame Outlaw's Chapter 6, blushes abound as Doran helps Estelle out of her wedding gown and into a more practical traveling dress in the back of the wagon.
  • Misfile: Ash does this to Emily a lot. Thanks to the eponymous misfile, Ash actually needs help with a lot of these things, but it doesn't stop the Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • Girls of the Wild's: Dal Dal invokes this in episode 202 when she is trying on bikinis with Jae Gu. Averted as he left before she could finish her monologue, and didn't even come close to tying her bikini up.

    Web Original 
  • Twig: Mary attempts to do this to Sylvester by asking him to help her with her knives while she's getting dressed, but instead Sylvester points out that she's doing this to psyche herself up and advises her to make a move on Gordon, who's not long for this world before it's too late.

    Western Animation 
  • Happens in Futurama: Bender's Big Score with Hermes, although right afterward, a chandelier falls and smashes his doomed time-clone body.
    • There's also this memorable line from "Love and Rocket," when Bender is caught in a compromising position with the Planet Express Ship:
      Planet Express Ship: It's not what it looks like! Bender was just...helping up my turbine!
  • Parodied in Rocko's Modern Life when a lonely Mrs. Bighead tried to seduce Rocko using this (and other) stunts. Parents thought this was too risque for a cartoon and the offending episode was quickly pulled off air, and taken out of syndication (at least in the US).
  • Josie and the Pussycats has Alan help Josie untangle a long chain that was part of her (very backless) dress.
  • The Venture Brothers: Dr. Girlfriend angrily tells Dr. Venture to zip her dress up after debating with the persistent Casanova Wannabe about whether or not she was legitimately in love with him during a mission where she had to seduce him and inject him with a serum that would convert his body into that of a giant butterfly as per the orders of her fiance, the villainous Monarch, only to give him the antidote after feeling guilty about the whole thing. Their relationship gradually improves to an amiable acquaintanceship later on.

    Real Life 
  • When reporter Saul Pett showed up at the home of famed author and wit Dorothy Parker for an interview:
    Parker: Are you married, my dear?
    Pett: Yes, I am.
    Parker: Then you won't mind zipping me up.