Pretty Princess: Dressing Like Your Childhood
Who doesn’t love putting a tiara on and twirling around, pretending, for a moment, that you are the princess? There will not be a care in the world or a worry to trouble you? Princesses don't have to deal with such trivial matters such as rent or paychecks! It’s impossible not to dream of the romantic life that being a princess offered us as children. We wish to reclaim it, even as we grow older and realize that, yes, even fairy princesses have worries and tribulations just like the rest of us mortals.
I had the privilege of growing up during the Golden Age of Disney movies. Widely regarded as Disney’s Renaissance, it began with the release of The Little Mermaid, and after many years of struggling Disney discovered themselves on top with the pinnacle achievement: the only animated Best Picture nomination in history, Beauty and the Beast. Disney had secured its rightful place in history, yet again, as the master of animation and had recovered from the loss of its original creative director Walt Disney.
With Disney permanently fixated into American culture for all eternity, it was only a matter of time before people began to incorporate the stories they loved into everyday life. Figurines and sculptures, paintings, and other art forms have always been popular Disney souvenirs, sold by the thousands in Disney theme parks. But most recently resurgence in dressing like your favorite childhood character has been seen. Since we can no longer play dress-up and put on our fairy dust sprinkled heels and diamond encrusted tiaras the modern Disney-aficionado has instead taken the characteristics of the character she loves and modeled her outfit after them.
Dressing Like the Dream
Sleeping Beauty is an old French fairy tale that isn’t just well known from Disney – it is also a popular ballet. Princess Aurora has always been a dreamy, fairy inspired princess and her outfit in the 1959 production is distinctly 1950s. Despite being such a medieval setting and Prince Phillip declaring that it was the 14th century. Her contrasting colors of blue and pink usually end up pink for her distinctive color (if only to separate her from Cinderella). She has a very feminine style, with lace, the clear cut curves of the 50s and a rose motif. Keep the skirts or dresses long a flowing like a hi-lo hem or maxi (all very popular right now) and keep a floral theme.
Belle has a bit more spunk than some of the princesses of old. Unlike Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, Belle doesn’t wander aimlessly through woods singing happy tunes. Actually she does this too. Almost all the princesses do this. She has a bight and intense curiosity. Her clothes reflect this – they are simpler, until her famous yellow ball gown – a very Colonial French court inspired affair. Channeling Belle means using bright colors in simple, yet eye catching ways. A-line skirts and button down blouses make a great, bookish ensemble for any Belle fan. Blues and yellows are her regular ensembles but adding rose or book inspired pieces of jewelry adds a pleasant, distinctive touch.
Ariel is much like Belle in the department of spunk and curiosity. Ariel though, instead of having the brilliant primary colors has a cooler toned palate. Inspired by the ocean (of course) she has greens, blues, and purples. Her dresses or skirts should be structured though; a flaring skirt or peplum top give the impression of her mermaid origin. Anything ocean, or fish, related make great accessories for her, especially seashells or starfish. Happily, fire truck red hair is not needed to pull this outfit off.
I know she’s not a princess, but I like her style too much to not include her. Alice adapts to modern day with a much more punk-like style than any other princess. She has a distinctive youthfulness about her that separates her from many of the other characters and she should dress for roaming about Wonderland – not for attending balls. For this I recommend a comfortable dress and black boots. Odd accessories that stand out are great pieces for her, such as these great tights from Modcloth – complete with actual drawings from the original Alice in Wonderland.
Jasmine is one of the more independent and rebellious princesses. She has a very sensual style but her color scheme is designed to offset Jafar’s evil red and black. She instead wears gold and pale turquoise. Her style is flowing and breezy, representing her love and desire for freedom. Shirts and pants go well for her modern style, especially clothes that are loose and then gather at the wrist or ankle – much like her actual outfit.
Mulan is a warrior first and foremost, but her most popular outfit to mimic is her matchmaker gown with its brilliant pinks, purples, and creams. (While I never thought Mulan really belonged in that outfit) At the end of the movie she arrives home in a simple gown with similar hues – that gown is much more Mulan. Layers are the key to dressing like her, with softer tones of not-quite-pastel colors. Coral, turquoise, and lavender. Cardigans and sweaters paired with more structural pieces such as a colorful blazer work well to remind the eye of Mulan's armor.
While we might have outgrown the Disney store and its sparkling affair of attacking every person who darkens its doors with glitter and pink, we have not outgrown our love for these characters who helped shape our childhood. We don't have to stop dressing like the princesses - rather we can make the princesses dress like us. We might loose the elegant ballgowns of our dreams but we will have all the strength and integrity that the actual princesses taught us.