Disney Princesses In Accurate Period Costume

Most of the world seems familiar with the famous Disney princesses, from Snow White to Pocahontas their likenesses are burned into our memory, fan or not. What makes them so iconic? Many would argue it was their lavish and flowing costumes, based on historical fashion. But just how correct are those period fashionable dresses? Claire Hummel, an illustrator with a passion for historically accurate costuming recently reworked many of the famous ladies, giving them new garb fitting a stylish member of their periods society. As you can see in her version of Snow White above (based on early 16th century Germany), many of the original Disney costumes weren’t far off, while a few are vastly different. For more of Hummel’s excellent work, see her website shoomlah.com

Pocahontas based on 17th century Powhatan costume

Cinderella’s dress is based in the mid-1860’s

Jasmine is based on rare drawings of pre-Islamic Middle Eastern fashion

Sleeping Beauty based on the year 1485

Ariel’s dress is based on 1890’s evening gown fashion

Belle’s dress is based on 1770’s French court fashion

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  1. Lindsay

    @ Alexa – Um, if you went to her website, you’d see she has already done Tiana, Mulan and Rapunzel.

  2. Madeline

    There are multiple references to “Allah” in the movie Aladdin, though… So why’s Jasmine based on pre-Islamic dress?

  3. Melissa

    These are beautiful. I would be interested to see a Mulan interpretation, or one of our newest princesses, Tiana, from The Princess & the Frog.

  4. Melissa

    Excuse me, I spoke too soon. I just read Lindsay’s comment & found the other 3 gorgeous historically correct interpretations of Mulan, Tiana, & Rapunzel.

  5. Felecia

    Mulan is actually not a princess. Never was.
    In fact, she was a commoner who ended up marrying an Army Captain, there was no royalty in her blood/family line, what-so-ever.
    Beautiful drawings though : 3

  6. Lindsay

    Gosh you guys are so picky. Picky picky pick. “Mulan wasn’t blah” “Snow white was a blah” Does it make you feel superior because you couldn’t ever produce a piece like this? So so so very passive aggressive, the lot of you. Can’t separate content from execution. Sigh.

  7. Bill Hedrick

    Well, when the title of the piece is Disney Princesses in Accurate period costumes, nictpicking inaccuracies is warranted,

  8. Scarlet Savage

    Meh, nice drawings but they look pretty much like the originals… what’s the point… time on your hands?

  9. Caitlyn

    I think these are all beautifully done and I agree with a previous poster that the subtle touches in each drawing really enhance them. However, I do not like Belle’s expression. She appears very haughty which is out of character.

  10. Devo

    None of the European styles have chemises however and they wouldn’t be showing that much cleavage… This is more of the HBO/Showtime versions of costuming they have for their ‘historical’ series.

  11. Nichole

    I was surprised… These really made all the princess’s look really snobby.. and nice cleavage… not!

  12. Lindsay

    I do not believe Pocahontas’ outfit. Powhatan dress is not that scanty – to wear that outfit would have been a scandal, especially as the daughter of a chieftain.

  13. Lana

    LIndsay, agreed. This version of Pocahontas is even more debase than the first.
    This is a stereotypical costume of the ‘Indian’, without any historical accuracy. What? slap some warpaint on, throw some feathers in her hair, hand her a gun to fight and it is authentic? I won’t even get into gender roles of the Algonquin people here.
    This is not being nitpicky…it is another racist version of a strong female character from history.
    Other than this…the other girls look pretty…that is all we want right?

  14. Katie

    I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that Cinderella was from the 1600’s – if we are going by the inspiration for the Disney movie. Why is her outfit set in the late 1800’s?

  15. Marieke

    These are very beautiful drawings! Although I am sad to see Belle looking so unlike herself.

    On a different note: I’d love to know what the reference was for the period costuming for each Princess. Given what I know about the stories, a lot of these seem a little inaccurate time period wise (I have no idea about the costumes other than that they look gorgeous):

    – As far as I know, the German “Snow White” was published in 1812 with the rest of the Grimm’s collected works; even her supposed ‘real’ influence lived in the 18th century. Earlier versions do exist, but with very significant differences, since this the Disney (and thus, Grimm) version we’re talking about, it seems odd to use the style of a much earlier period.

    – In reference to another comment: women of the Powhatan nation usually wore kneelength skirts, but oftentimes did not wear shirts at all (although higher status women did use deerskin to cover up, so Pocahontas may have done so too) . Though the costume may be inaccurate, it would probably not be seen as debasing, given how many Native Americans walked around bare-chested

    -Cinderella is a much much older story than the 1860’s; even the Perrault version, upon which the Disney movie was based, dates back to the late 17th century.

    – Aladdin was collected and added to 1001 Nights in the early 18th century, and ostensibly took place in China; Disney of course ignored this. Whatever the case, I seem to recall that the harem outfit such as Jasmine models is not and never has been part of arabic dress; it appears it was invented by Hollywood (or the West at any rate). Arabian dress is usually characterized by long flowing garments or wraps

    -The Sleeping Beauty and an earlier Italian version are both 17th century stories; Disney based its version on the Grimm’s shortened story. Either way, 1485 seems far too early.

    -The Little Mermaid was published by Andersen in 1836, which is pretty close.

    -Beauty and the Beast and its subsequent shorter adaptation by Mme LePrince De Beaumont (which I think is the version used by Disney) are both from the mid 18th century, so that seems accurate.

    I know this is all a bit shady as fairy tales go back to way back when (and of course, most of them start with ‘once upon a time,’ which could be any time). However, I think that if we’re considering the Disney versions, it is fair to base the costume accuracy on the time period of the original tales that Disney used (give or take 50 years perhaps). If there is another way of looking at it that I’m missing or facts that I’ve gotten wrong, please let me know. I looked most of this up to check, so I can provide my sources if necessary.

    Once again though, great illustrations!

  16. aria

    It seems like the costumes on these princesses are mostly based on the time period/place that the movies themselves depict. If that’s the case, rather than when the fairy tales were actually written, Belle seems to be way off. Her costumes and her hair in the movie seem to be more from the 1850’s to 1870’s (pre-civil war era), not at all pre-French Revolution. Most of these depictions were fascinating, though.

  17. Rachel Boller

    These are awesome! It’s interesting that some of the actual Disney costumes really weren’t that far off! I was actually a little surprised about Princess Jasmine and Pocahontas.


  18. Maddie

    Wow! These are so cool! I like how you have incorporated the colours associated with the characters with the dress of the time.

  19. chloe

    tianna is not a real disney princess, nor is repunzel. the real disney princesses are from the 90s, that’s the Disney Princess Collection

  20. Marieke

    Chloe: disney.go.com/princess/

    they are all official disney Princesses, including Rapunzel and Tiana. Also, the only princesses from the 90s are Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan, so you’d be missing a few either way.

  21. ERIN

    Claire Hummel,
    First off, love the style. :)
    Secondly, (Although I’m not sure if you are going to be finished with your ‘princess project’ or if you are willing to continue with the plethora of princesses) I would LOVE to see a Princess Merida (Brave)! I don’t think anyone has commented about her, and she is my new favorite princess and VERY new to the Disney family. :)
    Looking forward to it

  22. Lingerie Off Price

    It is amazing how similar some of these costumes are. Even the slight differences are not enough to obscure who each princess is supposed to be. I did not even need all of the identifying tags to know which was which. Love this piece!

  23. sofia

    I can’t really see the differences, only that these dresses are more elaborate. They are very good, but honestly, I prefer Disney’s more simple dresses.

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