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.
Dress- Chaudry, Earrings- Tarina Tarantino, Shoes- Monsoon
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.
Earrings- Forever 21, Shoes- Modcloth, Dress- Urban Outfitters, Necklace- Plasticland, Stole- Debenham’s, Clutch- Endless
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.
Socks- Top Shop, Boots- Shop Ruche, Dress- Urban Outfitters, Bag- Overstock.com, Necklace- Buckle
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.
Cardigan- Dorothy Perkins, Shoes- Forever 21, Belt- ASOS, Socks- Urban Outfitters, Brooch- Avalaya, Dress- Urban Outfitters
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.
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 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.
Corset Top- Topshop, Shoes- ASOS, Orange Top- Alloy, Pants- Shop Ruche
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”
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. 😀
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.
I loved this post. Could we possibly see Kida from Atlantis, Wendy from Peter Pan and a villians series.
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.
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.
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!!!
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!)
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.
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.
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. (:
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.
I love Mulan! It’s my favorite disney movie. The looks are so fantastic!
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.
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.
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?
There’s a new Disney princess rapunzel and there is supposed to be a new movie out on her maybe you could do that?