20 thoughts on “Disney Princess Historical Costume Influences: Cinderella (1950), Part 2

  1. This movie and Sleeping Beauty in 1959 both came out as/just after the transition from blue-is-for-girls to blue-is-for-boys change is made. I think it’s interesting that Disney comes down firmly in the blue-for-girls camp in both movies. Here, we see the pink dress torn to shreds, while fairy godmother makes an appropriate blue/silver dress instead. In Sleeping Beauty, there’s a whole scene where the fairies are arguing *poof* over which color *poof* Princess Aurora’s ball gown *poof* is going to be. *poof* Blue wins again.

    1. That’s a fascinating point! Yes, blue/pink (and red) swapped back and forth as being male/female throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. I hadn’t thought of that in terms of these movies, but it makes perfect sense.

  2. Regarding the high puffed sleeves on Cinderella’s ball gown – there is a great reference picture of a shoulder roll look from the 1550s-80s in the Disney Princess Historical Influences: Snow White (1937) post that is strikingly similar in shape.

  3. I think the ball gown may have been based on what seemed most formal and fancy to young people in the late 1940s. The “princess gown” was already popular; here’s some patterns that show the general idea: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/428756826998156338/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/81768549455385264/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/105905028710751334/

    Couture designers like Charles James and Christian Dior were making gowns with tight bodices and long, full skirts. Here’s Dior’s Venus gown: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/14566398766628739/ and another with a similar silhouette: https://www.flickr.com/photos/53035820@N02/6853064972/in/photostream Here’s one by James with an overskirt that reminds me of Cinderella’s: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/300404237619393791/ So the inspiration could have been the “princess gown” style with stylish, luxurious fuller skirts.

    Here’s Helene Stanley providing reference in a real version of the gown, just to see what the animators would have been looking at: http://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2015/03/long-before.html Interesting that the peplum is thinner, there’s a line down the bodice and she has flowers in her hair.

    1. Hi Liana,

      Thanks for the links! Yes, absolutely Cinderella was a product of its time (1950s/60s). You look at all the dresses she wears and they’re straight out of Dior, which I’m sure was the point– People seeing the film when it came out would associate that silhouette with wealth and royalty (Grace Kelly, obviously, big influence there).

    2. Absolutely, each Disbey film is totally influenced by the era it was made in. I’ve just been trying to stretch to try to find historical influences if I can!

  4. Cinderella, to me has always been right at the beginning of the 1890s, the bustle has just collapsed (the sisters wear them to the ball), the sleeves are EXACTLY this shape in 1891, with a high, peaked head, but not as voluminous as they get mid-decade, Lady Tremaine wears a high neck and proto-Gibson pompadour, and the prince’s uniform is very late 19th century. Cinderella’s hair at the ball is also classic early nineties (though I’m still mystified about that headband). The only thing missing is the very full skirt, but that can easily be explained as a nod to the New Look aesthetic. As for the hip poofs, check out this fashion plate! 1891! http://www.bartoscollection.com/images/434_1891_FashionPlate.jpg

  5. The fairy godmother is probably at least a few centuries old, so I think the reason The Dress looks more 18th-century than 19th-century is probably because her sense of style is a bit outdated and she doesn’t know the latest trends.

  6. I loved the commentary on Cinderella’s dresses though you seemed to be missing some historic options. I will be happy though to help you out on this as I have been recently pouring over various historic examples for a sewing project.
    Let’s start with her scullery dress- the length may not have been far off, though most dresses were close to floor length this was not always true for servants. Waist aprons were also common dating back to at least the early Victorian era. The top could have been an 1870-1890 scoop necked cuirass or may have even been a Victorian/Edwardian chemise over a second similar top or with non matching sleeves attached.

    Balls gowns and wedding dress- These are all lovely examples of mid to late 1800’s ball gowns. House of Worth and Jacques Doucet were well known designers who featured gowns with many of the elements found in all of Cinderella’s formal gowns. From the odd shaped sleeves to the contrasting colors, even the unique sash style top on her wedding gown. The following examples are all of real gowns held in museum collections from these designers from the late Victorian era.

    This fashion plate from the 1870’s Peterson’s Magazine even has the side puffs. They do not appear to continue to the back with a proper bustle there. Rather they seem to curve up sharply indicating they may not connect in the back but rather leave a space between them like Cinderella’s main gown.

    As for shoes and hair some shapes span decades… even centuries so while they may seem modern they could be older then we think.

  7. Cinderella’s ball puffy sleeves are not in WTF land, funny as that sentence was. In the 1800’s, genereally long sleeves were worn most of the time and short, “cap” sleeves were worn for evening gowns. That would include ballgowns. In other words, Cinderella’s puffy cap sleeves are a poofy, stylized version of the kind of evening gown cap sleeves they had. The pooofiness added to the sleeves no doubt was to go with the poofiness of her bustle/side puffs/whatever on her hips. Here’s a link to a picture showing what I mean. In it is a woman wearing a red dress with a bustle and hair and a choker and cap sleeves similar to Cinderella’s, and even a woman helping with a gown with a bustle and collar all the way up her neck like Lady Tremaine has: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51RC1D9QM8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    And I think the side poofs at Cinderella’s hips are indeed something between a bustle, the “polonaise” overksirt “looped up at the sides”, as “polonaise gown” was described when I did a quick search, and Disney fairy tale stylization. If you Google “polonaise gown” I think you will feel similarly. But I do wish I could see in history something closer to what Cinderella’s hip poofs actually look like! But I think on the Platinum Edition Cinderella DVD, they labeled those things as Cinderella’s bustle in a sheet to show what things should be what colors. I wish I could find that picture.

  8. Omg this is soooooo amazing it satisfies ALL of my costume and Disney “nerdyness” :’D

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