Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The Disney canon is full of pretty princesses looking for fairytale endings. But no two princesses are exactly alike, even if they wear the same classic Disney uniform – the jewel-colored dress. There's the literal Belle from Beauty and the Beast, whose weakness for the title beast grows into a kind of love that can break curses. Then there's Giselle from Enchanted, whose wife in distress gains ten levels of complexity by the end of the film. And who can forget Merida von Brave, with her legendary archery skills and her refusal to keep the line? She's a feminist icon if there ever is. Alternating wild, outgoing, and affectionate, these Disney heroines leave their mark not only because of their beauty and brains (there are plenty of them!) But because they can't help but remain true to themselves even when confronted with unhappy suitors, wicked stepmothers and cookie cutter princes.
As one of Disney's most enduring heroines, Belle has a matching iconic wardrobe. The simple blue day dress she wears in the first half of the film is a study of girlish innocence, while the opulent gold dress she dons in the film's famous ballroom scene her transformation from a literal provincial beauty to a real Disney princess marked. There's also her colorful winter outfit, consisting of a fur-trimmed cape and flowing dress in a palette of rose pinks and warm reds that channels aristocratic elegance without doing OTT.
Meanwhile, Giselle, whose tenaciously optimistic character pays homage to Disney's endless parade of innocent but spirited heroines, navigates a cynical New York City, mostly dressed in extravagantly styled costumes directly inspired by old Disney heroines. Her wardrobe ranges from floor-length satin dresses with cap sleeves that are splattered with flowers and ruffle-free, off-the-shoulder items, to puffy wedding dresses that girls' dreams are made of.
At the wildest end of the spectrum, we have Merida, which above all values comfort and practicality. Her dark green maxi dress, traversed with royal gold tones, looks typically princess at first glance, but it turns out to be an all-weather and all-situation staple that allows an enormous amount of movement. Big enough for a state dinner, but also perfect for driving across valleys and rescuing family members in danger. It's an iconic costume suitable for a princess who believes in choosing her own destiny.
All film stills are from Beauty and the Beast, Enchanted and Brave.
Channeling Classic Princess Style with Belle, Giselle and Merida
Who says classic Disney style has to be boring – or just Halloween? These three updated wardrobes stay true to a feminine core, adding extra sparkle and glamor to it. They are equally suitable for a date night or a solo excursion through the town square (a.k.a. your local mall).
1. Aim for the big goal somewhere – Belle
Cop Belle's sweet, country chic style with this dusty blue suspender dress over a ruffled white shirt with a distinctive Peter Pan collar. Enhance the feminine mood with a matching silk ribbon, a homage to Belle's most famous hair accessory! Instead of the classic brown flats of our heroine, use these ivory-colored Mary Janes with block heels – ideal for sealing those fairytale vibes or for adding a girlish touch to a hipster ensemble. In allusion to Belle's “provincial” roots, a rustic rattan handbag offers a final shot of summer energy.
2. Another kind of happy to the end – Giselle
A more wearable, but equally romantic, update of the wedding dress Giselle wore when she first came to New York, this ensemble features a cream wrap-around puff-sleeved top and a billowing, tiered ivory maxi skirt. Continuing the fairytale vibe, I've selected wired floral accessories that you can wrap through your locks to give our heroine a minimalist overhaul of our heroine's “woodland chic” hairstyle. And as a direct homage to the "Cinderella-esque" heels that Giselle left on the movie's central ball scene, here's a pointy version made of fabric and PVC infused with just the right amount of futurism!
3. Brave and beautiful – Merida
The green and gold palette of Merida's wardrobe is being thoroughly revamped with this unapologetic street style interpretation. The outfit is anchored by this light green, slightly sheer knit top, which works best with matching wide-leg pants that echo the streamlined silhouettes of Merida's flowing dresses. I picked these gold-colored necklaces with tiny, spiky arrows to respond to the gold touches in Merida's ensembles, a nod to her impeccable archery skills. Complete the outfit with an accessory that any modern Merida would be proud of: a bucket hat made of dark green corduroy, adorned with an avocado applique for a cute touch.
Thoroughly modern princesses
We have come a long way since Snow White bit a poisoned apple and immediately fell into a coma saved only by Prince Charming's kiss. With their wild dreams and free spirited energy, Belle, Giselle and Merida prove that there is more than one way to be a Disney heroine – and that romance at first glance means more than love! Of course, it goes without saying that there are countless possibilities to be stylistically "happy to the end", whether that means getting involved in ribbons and frills or reaching the sweet spot between a fairytale mood and modern sophistication.
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