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Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
Disney princesses have gone through several costume changes in the last few years. Gowns are still the go-to choice, but in Ralph Breaks the Internet, Vanellope introduced an all-star princess line-up to the concept of comfy leisure attire. Ranging from silk bomber jackets to tank tops, these characters experienced a contemporary makeover. A huge style deviation traditionally sees a character switching out a hoodie for a frock, but most of these women spend far too much time in formal wear. It is time to cut those corset strings.
The highly anticipated Frozen sequel is only a couple of months away and while Elsa’s "Just Let It Go" shirt and Anna’s plaid shirt and jorts from Ralph Breaks the Internet are not part of their Arendelle wardrobe, it doesn’t mean they aren’t getting new costumes for their next adventure. The first teaser revealed Elsa’s got a sensible new shiny pantsuit in her rotation. Maybe she liked what Bo Peep had going on in Toy Story 4, as they even share a love for the same sky blue and purple color palette. However, Elsa has a lot more sparkle and cape length for that extra armor — and thanks to the recent full-length trailer, we know the person she might need protection from is herself.
Running through fire? Alluring magic that might cause Elsa to lose herself? This is all starting to sound very Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons 5 and 6 (never a bad thing). A bedtime story read by the sisters' now-deceased parents lays the foundation for the quest they are about to embark on, revealing the far away enchanted forest that could hold the key to protecting the kingdom. Serving a dual purpose, this perilous adventure could also provide Elsa with some much-needed answers regarding the voice she has been hearing. Sisters are stronger together, a message the original Frozen endorsed; nevertheless, Anna has to remind her older sister that she is more than capable. After all, she has already saved the day, survived a frozen heart, and experienced a particularly awful romantic entanglement — but first, she has to switch out her cozy-looking fair isle style knits for something that reads a little more battle-ready.
Getting over an evil ex-boyfriend who tried to kill you isn’t easy, but one thing Anna has is oodles of optimism and a new outfit to show she is no longer a naive princess. Her caped shoulder look has been replaced by a more sophisticated and sleek silhouette in the same purple shade. The flashback to the bedtime story reveals a link to the past and present, as their mother’s clothing is the same purple and blue of Anna's signature costume in the first movie.
Green has also been a vital color for Anna when dressing for fancy formal events, but now she is delivering this styling out in the wilderness. A gold clasp secures this cloak over an olive green and gold trim dress over mustard pants. The cross-body bag and knee-high boots put the finishing touches to the timely fall aesthetic and color palette. Elsa might still see her sister as the little girl who wants to build a snowman, but this look demands respect.
There is an element of emulating her big sister’s new masculine-meets-feminine styling; both have got the dress-over-pants trend down. What better way to ensure they can literally leap — as they both do in this trailer — into whatever dangerous scenario befalls them in a bid to save their kingdom? And who doesn’t love a new-new look to get over a terrible romantic experience? Anna hasn’t pulled a Felicity and chopped all her hair off in reaction to her first love turning out to be a whole lot of evil, but her style has matured since the first outing.
A sword might not be the only weapon she has to wield; Anna might have to pull a Xander if Elsa goes full Dark Willow, as the trailer suggests could be a possibility. If this does happen, hopefully, Elsa gets an equally Goth-inspired makeover (but less veiny). She’d look great in a berry lipstick.
This new sartorial phase for Disney Princesses is a welcome one. Of course, trousers have featured in the past on characters including Jasmine's harem pants in Aladdin and Mulan's battle attire when she is passing as a man. But this overall shift from Ralph Breaks the Internet to Frozen II is noticeable. In 2018, the National Retail Federation's Halloween costume survey revealed that six years after Frozen was released, it was still in the Top 10 of what children would be dressing up as. On this holiday. Elsa and Anna have permeated pop culture in a huge way, but by updating their costumes, it gives more choice other than a pretty dress.
Expanding beyond traditional gowns is a long time coming and while an argument could be made that these animated features are just reflecting the period of the source material, these are also fairy tales not bound by historical accuracy. It shouldn’t be an either/or situation of pants or a frock — get a Disney Princess who can do both.