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The back is what's important!
Director Mori Toshimichi on Noel Vermillion's design.
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Backless outfits used for Fan Service. Ever since the 1920s and much of the 1930s popularized the backless dress or top, whether bias-cut, halter, spaghetti-strapped or strapless, it has been a nice way of showing a little skin (fair, olive, dark or tanned) without getting too raunchy; a deeply cut dress can show the entire back and maybe a bit more, and makes it clear that the lady is not wearing a bra. At the same time, it can be more elegant and mature than Bare Your Midriff or some of the other Fanservice Costumes. Or not.

The "elegant evening dress" version may come with Opera Gloves. Whether elegant or not, it may have slits to demonstrate that She's Got Legs.

Note that outfits that never have a back in the first place don't count (e.g., Chainmail Bikini).

No Real Life Examples, Please

Examples of Sexy Backless Outfit include:


Anime and Manga

  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Beatrice wears a full-skirted Victorian gown which shows a quite period-inappropriate amount of back.
  • Bleach: Yoruichi and Soifon both have special uniforms that leave their shoulder blades exposed in order to use Shunko, a special technique that concentrates energy on the arms and back, without ending up completely naked.
  • Naruto: We have yet to see it in-series, but one of the databooks shows that under her Black Cloak Konan wears a backless dress.
  • Karakuridouji Ultimo: Quite a few of the doji, especially Ultimo and Jealous, have backless tops. Might be Fan Disservice since it's a Shonen manga and they're male, but then again...
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: Asuka has a variant: the test-type plugsuit's torso material is incredibly sheer, and at one point she turns to show that it perfectly defines her back and the top of her rear. Yeah, Vapor Wear while your entire body is clothed is pretty impressive.
  • Birdy the Mighty: Birdy's leotard-like outfit, especially in the Decode remake, in which her outfit is not only completely backless, but neither the front part, nor what back there is, is held on by anything. Presumably there is glue involved. Or it's Body Paint.


Film

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: Jessica Rabbit wears a slinky strapless, backless, sequined red evening gown slit up the thigh to here. She's a Hello, Nurse! character (a Shout-Out to Tex Avery's designs), and very much played for sexy.
  • Iron Man: Pepper Potts buys herself a backless dress "from Tony" for her birthday. She wears it to a gala event, where Tony shows up and Hilarity Ensues when he asks her for a dance. She's rather nervous about it, and this is only exacerbated by the fact that she forgot to wear deodorant and is dancing with her Casanova boss in front of all the people she works with.
  • Catwoman: Halle Berry's corsetlike second costume was specifically cut so we could see her back move.
  • The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe (1973): A Femme Fatale spy meets her intended conquest at her door in a black dress that conceals everything from her neck to her wrists to her feet. Then she turns around, and her back is completely bare, down to butt-cleavage.
  • Dinner At Eight (1933): Gold Digger Kitty Packard (Jean Harlow) says, during a party conversation about sunbathing: "You know, my skin's terribly delicate and I don't dare expose it." Then she turns around, revealing her backless dress.
  • Attack of the Clones: The dress Padmé wears at the lake house combines a halter top, backless to the waist, with Detached Sleeves and filmy drapery for an elegantly sexy look.


Literature

  • Kushiel's Chosen: Phedre's costume for the Longest Night masque is deliberately cut so the entirety of her marque (full-length back tattoo) is visible. In her culture, marques are sported by courtesans who have completed their apprenticeships. A fully bared marque means its wearer is seeking business offers. Her back (and a touch more) appears prominently on the cover.


Live-Action TV

  • The West Wing: Ainsley Hayes in one episode; this being an Aaron Sorkin show when Sam commented on how attractive she looked, that led to a discussion of feminism and sexuality in the workplace.
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 Sam Seaborn: Whoa, I didn't even see that thing from the back.

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Tabletop Games

  • In the 3.5 of the Eberron Campaign Setting, the example character for the Dragonmarked Heir prestige class was depicted with such a dress, though for her; it had the added benefit of showing off her Dragonmark of Storm.
  • A couple of the Iconics for Pathfinder have similar outfits, though artwork showing them from behind doesn't happen too often. The coverart for Raiders of the Fever Sea (the second part of the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path), however, plays this trope straight.


Theatre

  • Murder Among Friends: Angela's red dress must be backless or nearly so, to inspire her husband's line "Lovely dress, but don't you have it on backwards?"


Video Games


Visual Novels


Webcomics


Western Animation

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