How To Dress Like A Disney Princess This Halloween, According To Real Disneybounders
If you've ever been to Disney (or anywhere in the world for that matter) and noticed that someone's outfit ever-so-slightly echoes a famous Disney character's costume, it is probably because they're Disneybounding. While the perfect color combination or accessory they're wearing may seem subtle, the outfit choices are actually very deliberate. In case you're not familiar with the term, Disneybounding is the practice of dressing up like modern day versions of your favorite characters. It's not so much wearing the same exact outfit as an iconic Disney princess or sidekick as it is wearing pieces you might already find in your closet in a way that reflects the overall feeling of the character's costume. It sounds complicated, but once you see Disneybounding in action, it's actually quite simple.
As for the term Disneybounding, it came from the name of a blog that Disney fan Leslie Kay started as she was — you guessed it — getting ready to go to Disney. It will likely come as a surprise to no one that people most often Disneybound today when they are, well, Disney bound. As playful as it is, the practice itself didn't actually start for fun as much as it did out of a need to bend the rules. Turns out, the most magical place on earth is actually quite strict about guests blatantly dressing up as characters. So while you aren't allowed to wear a full-on Belle costume and wig while visiting one of the Disney parks, you can certainly can wear contemporary clothing in colors and patterns that resemble Belle's iconic outfits.
So, yes, when it comes to costume-making, Disneybounders do it a bit differently, but this means that they're creative as they come. And if you're thinking about dressing up as a Disney princess (or any Disney character for that matter) for Halloween, taking advice from the true experts can only help. Disneybounders are creative, thrifty, and full of wisdom about creating the perfect costume. Here are nine pieces of advice from real Disneybounders about how to perfect your look this season.
1. Remember that color-blocking is everything.
In the world of Disneybounding, there is nothing more important than color-blocking. As Disneybounder (and active member of the Facebook group Disneybounding Adults) Shelby E tells me, it's probably more important to master than you think. "It’s a basic tip, but having just the right color palette and playing around with how you incorporate those colors can make all the difference," Shelby E says. In Shelby E.'s look above, you immediately know she's dressing as Snow White. Look at each piece individually, though, and nothing looks costume-y or unlike something you probably have in your closet right now. This is the beauty of Disneybounding.
2. Stop by your local thrift stores.
This Disneybounding challenge video from Ladylike is the perfect example of why you shouldn't count out thrift stores when it comes to building the perfect bound. From the perfect sparkly boots to the blue Cinderella-inspired jumpsuit of your dreams, thrift stores, yard sales, and vintage shops have just about everything. Remember, you don't have to look for an exact replica of any of Cinderella's look. This jumpsuit echoes the same color palette and pleats of Cinderella's dress, but it isn't exactly the same — and that's the point. Search through the racks at your local thrift store for your character's outfit's main colors. After, add tiny details like a black choker (you can use leftover black ribbon or even a shoelace) to finish the look.
3. Don't forget to utilize Amazon.
Disneybounder K Letter tells me that nothing has helped her bound more than Amazon has. "I cosplay and bound from Amazon regularly. I live in busy NYC and inspiration can strike anywhere, but who has time to shop? You can search clothing by size, and color and let your personal style shine through the pieces. Here is my Jack bound for my last birthday —sourced entirely from Amazon," Letter says.
4. Don't be afraid to mix and match character's looks.
Can't decide between two of your favorite Disney princess or character's looks? Try combining them. It may take a little bit of effort, but the end result is really fun.
This is exactly what Megan Griffin, who has been Disneybounding for eight years now, loves doing. "I like doing mash-ups of two characters, like my Reypunzel Disneybound, a mix between Rapunzel and Rey from Star Wars," she says.
5. Change how you view certain characters.
Griffin also suggests thinking about characters in totally new ways — and thinking about characters (and characters' outfits) that may be a little more obscure, too. Just because a character is a man in a movie doesn't mean you can't interpret it in a different way if you identify as a woman. Just because Cinderella is famous for that blue dress doesn't mean you can't rock another of her looks.
"You can try genderbending a character, like I did with my Kristoff disneybound," she explains. "There are also more obscure Disney characters like The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio, or different versions of the Princesses' outfits, like Cinderella's pink dress, if you want to be more unique!"
6. Make sure you test drive your costume before wearing it out.
Kristen Korotko suggests always taking your costume for a test run before wearing it to a big event or party.
"If your costume is more elaborate, make sure you test drive it first to make sure it’s wearable and comfortable. If you’re going to the park's Halloween parties, make sure everything is 100 percent allowed," Korotko explains, referencing the strict dress code rules of Disney parks during Halloween."I did a very over the top Madame Leota for the party last year and made sure to test drive it around to make sure I could sit, eat, and get on rides and be comfy."
7. Don't Forget The Accessories
Shelby E tells me that accessories are easy to forget, but crucial (the most important part, in fact) to a perfect bound.
"I love coming up with different ways to emulate characters in a wearable way. For example, when I did my Tamatoa bound, I put gold pieces and glow paint on my skirt so at night in Pandora, it up under the blacklights," she recalls. "Then I spent several days hot gluing gold painted shells/coins/beads to a mini backpack to represent his shell. That’s one of my favorite accessories I’ve made."
8. Give Things A Vintage Spin
Leslie Kay, the person behind the original Disneybound blog, has shared some tips and tricks on YouTube for exactly how to create a unique Disneybound look. One tip from this video? Give things a vintage spin — it puts a unique twist on creating a "modern" look from a character's outfit. Into the '50s? Try adding a pair of old school glasses (like in the video) or a '50s poodle skirt to a certain character's look to get decade-specific.
And if you're looking for even more inspiration, vintage-inspired Disneybounding actually has a name, too. In fact, there's a whole day dedicated to it. It's called Dapper Day, and the whole point of it is for park goers to dress up in Disney looks that are specifically 1930s-1960s themed.
9. Have a clear vision.
As Disneybounder Jasmine Moore tells me, the most important thing in her mind is to have a clear vision of the character you want to embody. "Find little or big accents that are unique to that individual and then find clever ways to weave them into your wardrobe. Going as Peter Pan? Find a green headband and fasten a red feather to it. Want to be Tinkerbell? Well, toss your hair in a bun, find a green dress, and pop some cotton balls onto your flats and your well on your way to the second star on the right."
If there's anything Halloween goers can learn from Disneybounders, it's this: Interpretations of Disney characters' outfits never have to be literal. In fact, it's almost more fun (and less expensive) when they're not.