Thinking back on films like Bambi and Cinderella, it’s easy to feel like some Disney classics have always been around—as if they simply sprang into being “once upon a time,” like the very stories they tell. Given that most of us were born well after the ‘50s, the sentiment is understandable. As lovers of style and Disney, however, we’d be remiss to ignore the trove of fashion inspiration waiting to be unearthed in each of the decades since Disney’s inception. With a Dapper Day weekend approaching, we’re kicking off our Disney Decade mini-series by arranging outfit sets inspired by the archives of the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s fashion in Disney films.
Animated film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
A decade marked by the Great Depression and rise of Hollywood, the 1930s fashion decade balanced practicality and glamor. While shoes had thicker heels, handbags were compact, and the jewelry kept simple, dresses often indulged in delicate details, featuring hour-glass silhouettes and hems that cut off at mid-calf.
Using the color scheme and floral details in Disney’s first film, Snow White, as inspiration for this modern interpretation of a ’30s outfit, we combined a royal blue day dress with leather heels and art deco drop earrings. The rustic metal clasp on this cute handbag looks like it’d fit in with the dwarfs’ home decor in the best way possible.
Dress: ModCloth, Shoes: Chelsea Crew
Animated Films: Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Make Mine Music, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
In the 1940s, women’s fashion started to reflect more of a masculine (or militant) influence, often featuring v-necks, button-up collars, and puffy sleeves. Where skirt length in the ’30s was customarily past the knee, this decade saw the popularization of knee-length, a-line skirts—a more practical fit, popular among teens of the decade. Shoes came in slightly thinner heels, while jewelry shifted towards a more ornate fashions.
Inspired by the abundance of flowers in Bambi, we chose delicate earrings and a rose colored clutch for this 1940s look. While Pinocchio’s round shoes influenced the choice of heel, Dumbo‘s circus scenes inspired the selection of polka dots for this retro-silhouetted dress.
Dress: Emily & Fin, Shoes, Earrings: ModCloth
Animated Films: Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty
When we think of “retro” clothing, we’re often thinking of the iconic styles of the ’50s. Circle dresses, kitten heels, and drop earrings had women of this decade looking like the bees knees. As in the preceding decades, purses were often smaller—just large enough to carry gloves or lipstick.
Wendy’s baby blue night gown inspired this choice of circle dress, while these heels’ silver accents remind us of Cinderella’s signature glass slippers. These pink drop earrings and vintage clutch gave us major Aurora vibes, particularly when we remembered her forest cottage home and wicker basket.
Dress: Bettie Page, Shoes: Seychelles, Clutch: Mary’s Vintage
Though these decades have long passed, the films and fashions they brought us are definitely here to stay. Do you have a favorite fashion decade? Tell us in the comments and be sure to share your Disney Decade-inspired looks with us on Instagram @DisneyStyle.