Fashion Inspiration: Walt Disney’s Mulan

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Walt Disney's Mulan DVD Cover

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.

About Mulan

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

Disney's Mulan visiting 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.

Cute outfit inspired by Disney's Mulan at the Matchmaker

Dress- Chaudry, Earrings- Tarina Tarantino, Shoes- Monsoon

Reflection

Disney's Mulan during the

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.

Outfit inspired by Mulan's song reflection

Earrings- Forever 21, Shoes- Modcloth, Dress- Urban Outfitters, Necklace- Plasticland, Stole- Debenham’s, Clutch- Endless

Mulan As Ping- Typical Outfit

Disney's Mulan dressed as Ping holding fish

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.

Everyday outfit inspired by Disney's Moulan

Socks- Top Shop, Boots- Shop Ruche, Dress- Urban Outfitters, Bag- Overstock.com, Necklace- Buckle

Mulan as Ping- Warrior Clothes

Disney's Mulan disguised as the warrior Ping

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.

Outfit inspired by Warrior Mulan from Disney's Mulan

Cardigan- Dorothy Perkins, Shoes- Forever 21, Belt- ASOS, Socks- Urban Outfitters, Brooch- Avalaya, Dress- Urban Outfitters

Mulan Saves China

Disney's Mulan saving 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.

Outfit inspired by Disney's Mulan when she saves China

Ring- Miss Selfridge, Shoes- Boo Hoo, Headband- Forever 21, Dress- Miss Selfridge, Tights- Modcloth, Bag- Purse Boutique, Necklace- Forever 21

Bonus- Inspired By Mushu

Mushu the dragon from Disney's Mulan

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.

Outfit inspired by Mushu from Disney's Mulan

Corset Top- Topshop, Shoes- ASOS, Orange Top- Alloy, Pants- Shop Ruche

Thoughts?

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!

61 thoughts on “Fashion Inspiration: Walt Disney’s Mulan”

  1. OMG. I love it! I’ve loved your whole series so far. This, Meg, and Snow white have been the best. Thank you so much for posting this series!

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  2. Wow, this must’ve been difficult to put together! I think the warrior look is my favorite. And I know she isn’t a Disney princess, but I would love to see Anastasia featured!

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  3. Great post, I love this entire series! Maybe you can do a Tinkerbell look 🙂 Oh and also, since Mulan is Chinese, her style of dress is actually called a cheongsam/qipao – kimono is japanese 🙂 Just a little distinction, but I am seriously in love with the “Mulan Saves China” look!!

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  4. Haha Elaine I was going to say the same thing about the kimono xD I am anal like that! But I really LOVE the green dress ensemble! The belt is amazing!

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  5. My favorite Mulan look is for Ping and I really like the Mushu outfit too…I gotta admit this post just reminded me of the soundtrack and now I’m going to have “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” (in particular “BE A MAN!!!”) in my head for the rest of the day, which is not a bad thing. Once again, great work!!!
    🙂

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  6. Love the first one – I think you hit it straight on. But why is EVERY one a dress outfit? Ping didn’t wear dresses, obviously and neither do I all the time. That and just heads up – I love all the fashion inspiration posts and such – but can you guys try to do more realistic priced clothes every now and then? Idk about you but I’m dirt poor while in college and I see names like “Urban Outfitters” and I know thats ‘normally’ boocoo bucks that I dont have. Thank you.

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  7. glad i wasn’t the only one who caught the cultural (& botanical) inaccuracies in this post. i don’t think of it as a criticism of the author, herself, but when you write for something as well read as this blog, it behooves the author to do her research & make sure everything is as accurate as possible.

    these mistakes here, imo, are kind of silly, since they would have easily been remedied by a quick search on wikipedia & show a certain lack of cultural sensitivity, since kimono is something everyone knows as being JAPANESE, while mulan is quite obviously set in ancient CHINA.

    the historical inaccuracies in the movie are another thing altogether, but that’s disney for you. *coughpocahontascough*

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  8. i quite agree that after a while, enough’s enough. on the other hand, if the mistakes are not corrected, the point has NOT been made.

    though i’d give the author the benefit of the doubt in thinking that it’s highly unlikely she’s online every 5 minutes checking to see what people have to say about her article, which, btw, is pretty cool, otherwise! 🙂

    give her some time to fix things & if it’s still not corrected, after a day or two, i say, post away! – someone’s not getting the message.

    & i wasn’t thinking of anyone in particular when i made my comment – it was purely a general statement.

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  9. This was probably my least favorite article from CF :(. Mainly because, as an Asian American, I feel that it is slightly awkward to see outfits that are “oriental.” Maybe it is just me being overly sensitive, but I have a feeling there are other Asians who also bristle at the sight of over-doing an ensemble in hopes of emulating cultural dress. (just the first and last outfits, I enjoyed the ones in between)

    However, plus10 respect points for making the effort to fix the hanfu/kimono error! Thank you for addressing the situation as well as you did.

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  10. shaina, your argument about the proliferation of dresses in this thread because that is what’s “going on fashion-wise” is null after looking at the past Disney posts. Snow White, Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, and Jane all inspired looks that had some form of pant/short instead of a skirt/dress, and many of these characters are more stereotypically “girly” than Mulan. Yes, people come to this site to “keep up to date on what’s going on fashion-wise” – that does not nullify the fact that it is ironic to choose only dress outfits when “inspired” by the gender-stereotype-shunning Mulan.

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  11. I was so excited to see this article, but I can’t see any of the pictures! They only say COLLEGEFASHION.net.

    Maybe you need to rehost them?

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  12. Once again, amazing outfits!! 🙂 I love your disney posts, mulan is one of my favorite disney heroines. 🙂
    Could you do posts about some of the female disney villians? Also, a post about Captain Amelia from “Treasure Planet” would be really cool. 🙂

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  13. Hey guys I think she might have a clue that it’s not a kimono.

    Anyways Calli, this is one of my favorite posts you’ve done, for real. I must say, I

    luv it girl

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  14. I love it! I have loved this entire series except for the Snow White one. I would love to see Esmeralda from Enchanted, Tinkerbell, Cruella de Ville, Atlantis, and the original Alice in Wonderland. Maybe even Anastasia?

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  15. I’d like to repeat what Elaine said. The traditional Chinese clothing is called “Hanfu,” not “Kimono” (Japanese), or even “Qipao” (post-Maoist). The Kimono is a derivation of the Hanfu, since Japanese people originated from China thousands of years ago.

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  16. You know, I gotta admit that I snicker whenever one of these Disney-inspired posts surfaces, yet I always wind up impressed in the end. Guess I never learn. *Love* the typical Ping outfit.

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  17. Hahahaha Elaine Sierra and L! I totally was going to make the same correction but I’m glad someone did. I hope Calli changes it in the post soon! Though I have to say, these posts are excellent and so much fun to read! Everyone loves their Disney princesses.

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  18. Wow! You did amazing, i’m in love with the Mulan saves China look and the Warior Clothes look, so beautiful. I look foward to these posts and hope to see more. It would be cool to see some Lion King inspired looks, though they aren’t humans there is still so much you could get from that movie. (:

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  19. I’m so glad you did Mulan! While she isn’t Disney, I would love it if there was an Anastasia-inspired post as well. Also, totally random, but if one of the CF staff watches NCIS at all, it would be awesome to see a Ziva David-inspired fashion post.

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  20. Lolololol dying at “kimono” and “cherry blossom”. Of course, by “lol dying”, I mean that I was offended at the lack of cultural sensitivity. China isn’t Japan, and no matter how many comments above me may have pointed out the same thing, I figure that it needs to be criticized until it’s fixed.

    Also, yes, way to go with dresses all the way for a list of outfits inspired by MULAN, of all female Disney characters. Gender norms aren’t completely bucked in the movie, but seriously, she’s in drag for a great deal of it.

    If you’re one of those people who think that the author of the article is the party being persecuted unfairly, instead of it being East Asian women, or women who wish not everything in their lives reinforced a strict gender role dichotomy, then please go check your privilege.

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  21. THANK YOU!!!

    These outfits are PRECIOUS! I’m glad that it took a while for you to get up Mulan because your articles have just been getting better with each post… I love all of these outfits- can’t even choose a favorite! Although the Mulan Saves China one really is great for fall. And the Mushu one is perfect. I like that these outfits are pretty wearable for casual day-to-day looks, too. And love the way you feminized her warrior outfit (I’m a HUGE fan of belts).

    So worth the wait. 🙂

    (Just read through the comments- totally forgot about Giselle. I’d love to see your take on her poofy dress!)

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  22. Just wanted to point out: Mulan wears a “hanfu” not a “kimono.” Kimonos are Japanese and Mulan is Chinese. Thanks for this wonderful post though! I especially love the Warrior outfit the most!!!

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  23. Thank you so much for finally doing Mulan! She is my favorite Disney Princess/heroine. I really loved the Reflections and Mushu outfits! I think you did a really great job because her wardrobe was hard to transform. FANTASTIC JOB!

    CF readers, please guys, read the previous comments before writing yours. I feel like a million of you corrected her on her cultural inaccuracy and I think she got the point. There is no need to harp on a writer about things so many times.

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  24. I really do love all these outfits, but like someone said earlier, I kind of with they hadn’t all been dresses. Part of the point of Mulan is that she’s having to hide out as a man, and that she’s able to do just as well as they can in the end. I would have loved to see some masculine-inspired outfits to pay homage to her time as Ping when she was dressed in MENS clothes.

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  25. M, that’s a good way of saying it. I wasn’t trying to minimizes that fact that she made an error, but I think it could have been addressed in a way similar to the way Elaine discussed it. I also think that after the 10th or so correction the point has been made.

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  26. I love these outfits! The whole series is great! I would love to find out what you do for Anastasia also (even if she’s not a Disney Princess). But really, you’re doing a great job with these. 😀

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  27. i’m gonna have to agree with a few other people on here in that i think there should have been at least one non-dress outfit. i mean, mulan was masquerading as a man for most of the movie. also, like many other people have pointed out, a kimono is a japanese garment and mulan is chinese. also, those aren’t cherry blossoms, those are magnolias. 🙂

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  28. Hey guys! Glad you all liked the post!

    For those of you who commented about the kimono/hanfu thing, I’ve updated the kimono references in the post to refer to hanfus instead! Calli emailed me about it last night but she didn’t have the ability to update a post that had already been published, so it couldn’t get fixed until this morning. To those of you who commented – don’t worry, we heard you!

    BTW guys, before you leave a comment with the SAME criticism 40 others have left, just read the comments before yours to make sure the issue hasn’t been addressed – we read every comment, so one comment pointing out the issue is always enough to get the point across. Commenting with “I agree, that should be fixed.” is unnecessary and adds absolutely nothing to the discussion. Thanks for pointing that out, Lalalina!

    While Calli wrote this post, the blame should be on me for the incorrect references – I should have done a better job fact-checking when I edited this – NYFW preparations have made everything crazy this week, although I know that’s not an excuse for factual inaccuracies in a post. I’ll definitely do a better job of researching and fact-checking in the future, and I know Calli will do the same! Thanks for helping us improve the post – I know I definitely appreciate the criticism because I want the stuff we post here to be the best possible quality.

    Anyway, glad you guys enjoyed this post and are liking this series! As always, we appreciate the feedback! xo

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  29. Oooh, these are great! Everytime I see these I’m so impressed by the outfits you come up with. I’d love to see Anastasia in one of these posts 🙂

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  30. I guess I was looking forward to you doing Mulan so much that I wasn’t exactly “thrilled” with the outfits you chose. I kinda wished that you did something from Mulan that didn’t include dresses (although to give you credit, Mushu’s outfit wasn’t a dress). But nonetheless, great post, and I guess my favorite would have to be the warrior outfit. 🙂

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  31. You finally did Mulan (emphasis on FINALLY!), a strong woman warrior who fights against stereotypical gender roles, and all of the outfits are dresses? Not to say that the outfits are bad – they’re not – but the choices are a bit ironic.

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  32. PLEASE try to be culturally accurate! It’s NOT a kimono – that’s Japanese. It’s a hanfu, something the Japanese borrowed and eventually altered when they migrated out of China. Also, those totally aren’t cherry blossoms (which by the way is very Japanese again). They’re called Mulan in Chinese…

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  33. Wow! This is fabulous! I am so impressed. The dresses you featured are perfect for my body type. I am beyond in love. I really love the cherry blossom necklace too.

    Great job!!!

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  34. Wow, so many outfits this time. However, there was one outfit that stood out the most and managed to convey the theme AND use one of the hottest trends for fall. The Mulan as Ping typical outfit is a gorgeous choice of dress with this season’s love for mixing prints. I love that you kept it simple with dark boots and bag (want the bag for myself) and the tights are the perfect colour, nude or black would wash you out/make the outfit to monochromatic. I love the elegance of the necklace, a round shape and silver material always looks so feminine. The outfit could even support something chunkier.

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  35. I just love how you have put together all these Disney inspired outfits. Not only is it fashionable but yet fun and playful. Great job guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  36. I love Mulan! She’s one of my favorite Disney heroines!

    I know they’re not Disney but some posts I’d like to see in the future are The Swan Princess and the Warner Brothers live action film The Secret Garden (my absolute favorite movie of all time)…

    Reply

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