Mulan is a courageous woman who disguises herself as a man to take her father's place in the Chinese war against the Huns, risking her life and her family's honor to save her fragile father from a horrible fate. Mulan is one of Disney's most inspiring and beloved characters, as I can tell from the numerous requests from readers' comments in the previous articles of this series.
Like the previous articles in this series, the purpose of this article is to use a childhood idol as inspiration for outfits that you can actually pull off as a college student. All it takes is a little creativity!
For more Disney-inspired looks, check out our past articles on Walt Disney’s Snow White, Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Walt Disney’s Cinderella, Walt Disney’s Princess Jasmine, Walt Disney’s Princess Tiana, Walt Disney’s Pocahontas, Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jane Porter from Disney’s Tarzan, Megara from Disney’s Hercules, and Emeralda from Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
At the beginning of the movie, Mulan meets with a matchmaker to try and find a suitable husband, but things go awry and she feels as though she will never be able to bring honor to her family. That evening, her family learns that her father is being called to serve in the Chinese war against the Huns. Mulan knows that her father is getting old and frail, and knows that if he goes to war, he will not survive it. She simply cannot stand idly and watch this happen, so in the middle of the night, she cuts off her hair, steals her father's armor, and decides to impersonate a soldier to take his place as a warrior.
When her family realizes what Mulan has done, they are terribly upset and worried, but they can't stop her - if anyone were to find out that she was truly a woman, she would be punished by death. With no other options, her family prays to their ancestors to watch over her. The ancestors receive these prayers, and send Mushu, a tiny dragon, to be Mulan's guardian.
Mulan pretends that she is a man named Ping. She ends up being a wonderful warrior, and plays a vital role in the Chinese victory. Without her, the emperor of China would have been killed and the Huns would have taken over. When the emperor finds out she was truly a woman in disguise, rather than being upset, he is thrilled that she was so courageous. He praises her by offering her a position on his council, but she politely declines the offer so that she can return home to her family. The emperor gives her a crest and a sword to show her family that she has indeed brought honor to them.
Meeting the Matchmaker
At the very beginning of the movie, Mulan has a meeting with a matchmaker in hopes of finding a suitable husband so she can bring honor to her family. Her mother and grandmother help her to get dressed in a beautiful hanfu. To channel this important scene in the film, I made an outfit with a gorgeous hanfu-inspired dress.
After things don't go so well with the matchmaker, Mulan is very upset and unsure about what she is meant to do in her life. She doesn't feel as though she is going along her intended path, so she sings the song "Reflection", (which happens to be my 8 year old self's absolute favorite song).
For the outfit, I used a pink dress that has a similar shape to her hanfu, that doesn't look over-the-top or costumey. I also included an adorable necklace with flowers similar to the ones that surround her as she sings.
Mulan As Ping- Typical Outfit
When Mulan pretends to be a man named Ping in the army, her usual daily outfit is fairly simple, but nothing like modern menswear.
To create a fresh take on this look, I used a beige dress with a similar neckline that has a pattern for added interest. I also added some green accessories to match the trim on Mulan's top, as well as some boots to give the look a more masculine vibe. The necklace has a similar shape to the crest that the emperor gives to Mulan at the end of the movie.
Mulan as Ping- Warrior Clothes
Mulan's warrior clothes are very masculine with lots of angular shapes. To create a look inspired by her warrior gear, I decided to create feminine flair by using a simple green dress, long cardigan, and over-the-knee socks. The angular details in the belt and shoes give the outfit a warrior vibe. To complete the look, I used a dragon brooch, which is reminiscent of Mushu, who is always with Mulan as she fights for China.
Mulan Saves China
At the end of the film, Mulan saves all of China while looking super stylish. Since her outfit is mostly comprised of dark colors, I decided to make an outfit inspired by her look that's perfect for fall. If you love Mulan but aren't sure if you can pull off a full Chinese-inspired getup, this outfit is for you. The dress slightly mimics the shape of her robe, but includes more soft, feminine details, while the accessories pull from the colors of her outfit above.
Bonus- Inspired By Mushu
Mushu may be a tiny dragon, but he is definitely a tough guy who doesn't take crap from anyone. For a Mushu-inspired outfit, I used a sheer orange drapey top, and offset its soft details with a cropped corset to wear underneath, edgy pants, and killer heels.
Are you inspired by Mulan? Which look is your favorite? Which Disney characters would you be interested in seeing posts about in the future? I want to know what you think, so be sure to leave your thoughts in a comment!