Kicking Ass in All Her Finery
Who says that being an ass-whupping Action Girl means you can't wear feminine, pretty, opulent clothes? In some works, the two go hand-in-awesome-but-elegant-hand.
And no Action Dress Ripping either. These are Impossibly Cool Clothes, that don't get in the way while this lady is mowing down hordes of Mooks or blowing stuff up. Not that there can't be Clothing Damage, but expect the clothes to be fine next episode (barring getting a new outfit next season).
What weapons she uses can vary, from martial arts (even if a skirt would be too narrow or poofy to kick someone), to conventional weapons, to even the more "feminine" weapons like Parasol of Pain, Rolling Pin of Doom, and Frying Pan of Doom. Although with those latter three, she has to be directly attacking with them, not just conking a guy on the head.
The clothes could range from an evening dress and Jewelry, to an ultra frilly Pimped-Out Dress. It can even count if the dress it cut to move around, like a Mini-Dress of Power, but it also has to be otherwise too fancy to fight in.
This trope often overlaps with Lady of War, Badass Princess, Ermine Cape Effect, Battle Ballgown (the frilled dress with armor variant, not the armor with a skirt variant), Qipao (if she's Chinese), Silk Hiding Steel, Action Fashionista (if this character has several fancy outfits she fights in), and Magical Girl Warrior (although they tend to not be outright badass most of the time).
Examples should describe the outfit and/or provide pictures.
Anime & Manga
- Elizabeth Middleford of Black Butler is in very nice, prim and proper underwear when she mows down zombies with dual swords.
- Shenhua from Black Lagoon is a deadly assassin who's very talented with kukris and kunai. The difference between her and every other woman in the show is that she kicks ass while wearing an elegant red Qipao.
- Dominion Tank Police has a scene where the Puma Twins engage the Red Commandos in a shoot out, in an upscale museum, while decked out in fancy dresses. Annapuma's AK-47 was hidden in her parasol, while Unapuma had a tommygun tucked under her skirt!
- Shiki from Kara no Kyoukai usually fights wearing a simple kimono and a red jacket for warmth. However, in part five, she instead goes for a borderline Pimped Out Kimono during the climatic battle (not to mention that she also brings a katana to it instead of her usual knife).
- Madlax from, well, Madlax is shown wearing simple but elegant and very slick cocktail dresses more than once while kicking ass. (And once she takes her dress off to distract her pursuers).
- The eponymous heroine of Murder Princess wears a voluminous white gown. This is really an interesting case, as she became a princess through a Freaky Friday Flip, and wasn't this before the flip.
- Most of the dolls in Rozen Maiden fit this, due to their ultra frilly dresses being still worn in intense battles.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist (manga only), when Alphonse is basically abducted by Greed and his chimera, Al's beloved alchemy master Izumi calmly strolls into the sewers and beats the crap out of anyone who gets in her way. Her chosen attire for the occasion is a slinky black cocktail dress.
- Wedding Peach for being a Magical Girl show about girls in well ... wedding dresses has some moments where they fight in their full wedding dresses. Mostly the early episodes before Momoko learns the magic phrase that turns her pimped out wedding dress into a Mini-Dress of Power.
- Magical Girl anime is based entirely on this trope.
- Wonder Woman was created partly to embody this. As Diana Prince, she had a lot of occasions to go out to dinner parties thrown by military brass in elegant evening gowns, jewelry, etc. She'd always have elbow-length gloves to cover up her bracelets. Sometime during the night it was almost guaranteed she would have to do some kind of ass kicking while still in her flossy attire. As Wonder Woman her original outfit included knee-length pleated culottes, which looked like a skirt most of the time unless she was doing something extremely active.
Film - Animation
- Mulan, at the end of the film, dresses like a courtesan (along with three of her fellow soldiers) to infiltrate the invaded palace.
- Shrek - Princess Fiona takes out Robin Hood and a squad of merry men single-handedly while wearing her signature green princess dress. She's quite put out when a single lock of hair is out of place after the dust settles.
Film - Live Action
- Princess Vespa spends the entire Spaceballs movie wearing a Fairytale Wedding Dress. She's handed a gun to fight with, and refuses until a laser blast singes the side of her hair. Then she mows down the bad guys.
- In Enchanted, after her date is snatched from a ball by a dragon, Giselle goes after them in her modern-formal dress, pausing only to take up the Prince's sword (and lose her glass slipper in the process).
- Victoria (Helen Mirren) in RED, dressed in an elegant evening gown and operating a monstrous tripod-mounted machine gun to hold off inconvenient government agents in a parking deck.
- Cecille of Arc Rise Fantasia punched her way through enemies, while wearing a fancy blue dress. The sisters Paula and Luna use weapons, but still fancy clothes. Luna uses a very pretty Parasol of Pain.
- Rachel Alucard in BlazBlue wears a frilled up Elegant Gothic Lolita dress, in a Fighting Game.
- Helena of Dead or Alive has a few dresses made a very fancy materials, including silk and lace.
- Lei-fang's standard attire is a Qipao.
- Princess Rozalin of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories starts out as a Princess Classic, and always has her frilly dress with large bows, but as she learns to fight, she becomes deadly with firearms. And that's not even getting to the Super-Powered Evil Side of her past life.
- Sapphire of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has an outfit that's basically pants and a jacket (to help make it easy to fight as a Badass Princess), but still elegant and fancy enough to count.
- Entirely viable in much of The Elder Scrolls series. Find or buy a Pimped-Out Dress, pump it full of enchantments, and go to town. In games that let you enchant an item with an increase to the wearer's armor rating, the dress can even be made to function almost exactly like armor.
- The Prince class in Etrian Odyssey III has a princess option [dead link], and they tend to be strong fighters as well as opulently dressed.
- Peach from the Mario franchise. On those occasions when she does kick ass, like the Super Smash Bros. instance below, she is usually doing so in her iconic pink dress.
- The heroine of Princess Crown wears an armored, but fancy, gown.
- Ada Wong in Resident Evil 4 wears an elegant cheongsam dress, that has butterflies embroidered with gold thread, while kicking butt.
- The ladies of the Soul Calibur series often have elegant outfits. Special mention goes to Cassandra and Amy.
- Rose from Street Fighter. Her standard outfit is an evening dress with pumps and a Scarf of Asskicking. It doesn't deter her in the slightest. (and in some Street Fighter IV ports, you can download even prettier dresses for her.)
- In the Super Smash Bros. games, Peach and Princess Zelda qualify for this trope, if rarely in their series proper. They battle in their standard series royal dresses.
- Lady Jane of the Time Splitters games runs around shooting at bad guys, while wearing an evening dress and fur-trimmed coat [dead link].
- There are levels in some Tomb Raider games where Lara wears formalwear. One particularly good example when she's at a party in Legend (which also averts Combat Stilettos; She removes them and goes barefoot).
- Many MMO s, especially free ones have wedding dresses and other finery for sale or craftable. Some examples are Final Fantasy XI's Wedding Dress Set or Star Wars Galaxies Grand Ball Gown which can be worn anytime anywhere even when fighting. Some games like Eden Eternal this is largely the way they make cash selling fashion items like Maid Outfits and Fairy Dresses that even have stat boosts to help in combat.
- In Fear Effect 2, Hana has to infiltrate a high-class party in order to find some information for her current mission. She eventually ends up in a gunfight while wearing her evening gown. Before she goes into the party though, her partner Rain questions her choice in attire, sarcastically asking why she doesn't just walk in naked. Hana responds by saying that she'd only have room to hide one gun if she did that. Let that sink in for a moment...
- A staple of the Tales (series), and not just for the ladies. Games with alternate costumes will often include fancy high-class outfits that the character(s) will not only walk around in, but continue to wear while kicking ass in battle. Examples include Symphonia and Legendia, both of which provide this option for almost every playable character (the latter only has the outfits in battle though; they wear their normal outfits on the field for some reason).
- When in Final Fantasy VIII you get Edea into your party, she'll be in her Pimped-Out Dress you know and love. Subverted in that her standard attack weapon is a some kind of weak telekinetic punch and her main weapon is magic.
- Subverted by Karma's /joke emote in League of Legends. "This dress may have been impractical."
- Saber of the Fate Stay Night series likes wearing fine dresses, even if they are armored.