Do you know how to make a Mulan Warrior costume? With the new live-action Mulan movie due out in April 2020, interest in Mulan character costumes has once again risen. Remember that in the original movie Mulan became a female warrior after posing as a boy to take her injured father’s place in the army? Well, she went on to save the emperor (after a few trials and tribulations), honoured her family name and went home a hero!
Mulan is a strong female character and because she wore a variety of outfits in the movie, there’s plenty of scope for creating your very own Mulan costume for your next party. Mulan’s most well-known costume is her traditional Chinese dress or Hanfu, worn by the Han people during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). We’ll take a look at how to dress up as Mulan in a Hanfu costume shortly, but first, let’s answer the popular question – Is Mulan a Princess?
Is Mulan a Princess?
The short answer is No, Mulan isn’t a Princess. She is not the daughter of a King or Queen and so far, hasn’t married a Prince to become a Princess. Her father is Fa Zhou, a retired war hero and her mother is Fa Li. Her father sustained a leg injury in a previous war and now walks with the aid of a crutch. He is a very honourable man, putting honour before his own health, which is why Mulan sneaks away and masquerades as a boy to take her father’s place in the army when he is conscripted. So Mulan isn’t a Princess, she is the daughter of a very honourable man.
FYI: Mulan is actually a highly popular member of the Disney Princess franchise, owned by The Walt Disney Company. These Princesses include Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Pocahontas, Ariel, Belle and Mulan. The franchise was created to highlight fictional female heroines and has recently been expanded to include Merida, Moana, Rapunzel and Tiana. These Princesses appear in a wide variety of merchandise, which is the founding principle of the franchise.
How to dress up as Mulan
At the beginning of the movie, Mulan wears normal everyday wear, but when she visits the matchmaker (learning that she is not marriage material) she wears a traditional Hanfu dress. While she is masquerading as Ping, the boy solder, she is often seen wearing a typical soldier’s daily outfit and as a warrior, Ping wears an outfit that’s designed for fighting.
Let’s take a look at how to dress up as Mulan in her everyday dress and the Hanfu she wore to see the matchmaker. Then we’ll take a look at the traditional daily dress of the soldiers, then at how to make a Mulan warrior costume, followed by Mulan’s heroine dress.
Mulan costume for a girl – Mulan’s daily dress
This Mulan costume is pretty simple to pull together. You start with a cream coloured square-neck, long line dress or a long skirt and camisole top with a discreet neck line. Next, you need a light green long sleeved t-shirt with a V-neck made from lightweight material (because you will be layering all these clothes). Her outer clothes can be copied by finding a strapless tank top or dress in royal blue. You will need to add bright red straps that start at the centre of the tank top or dress and go over each shoulder to the rear of the tank top or dress. You also want a wide band of the same red material tied around your waist as a cummerbund. Layer all of these items of clothing, wear a long dark wig tied in a loose ponytail hanging down your back, and pop on a pair of flat pumps to complete the first of your Mulan character costumes.
Mulan costume for a girl – The traditional Hanfu
As this is a traditional form of dress of the Han period, you will need a plain pink silky bathrobe with long wide sleeves and as long as possible in length (preferably to the floor). Purchase some royal blue fabric and wrap it around your waist to form a cummerbund and follow with a bright red piece of fabric (about 2 or 3cm wide) tied around the middle of the cummerbund. To complete this outfit you need at least 2 metres of lavender or purple material to drape around your back and both arms (so the material folds in the crook of your elbows). Add flat shoes and wear a long dark wig pulled up in a topknot with a faux Magnolia blossom, and add gold drop earrings – and you are done! You have made the perfect traditional Mulan costume for a girl of the Han Dynasty.
Mulan costume for a boy – Daily soldier’s outfit
Image source: Disney.com
This is a simple and comfortable outfit worn by the soldiers in their everyday lives around camp. To create this costume you need a light brown or beige coloured wrap around dress with long sleeves. As with all of these costumes, you will probably find the pieces in a local charity shop. Next, you need some green or dark brown material to edge the hemline of the neckline and the part of the dress that wraps around the top part of your body. Use this same material, create a cummerbund and a pair of knee length shorts. If you can’t make your own baggy shorts, just find a pair that’s a dark brown colour, even if it doesn’t quite match the colour of the cummerbund. Add cream coloured knee length socks, flat black shoes and wear your hair up in a tight top knot to complete the another of your Mulan character costumes.
How to make a Mulan warrior costume
The warrior costume worn by Mulan is very masculine, composed of dark green and black, so whatever colour clothing you can find, don’t worry, as long as it’s one of these two colours. First, you need a pair of leggings and shin protectors. You can make the shin protectors out of a dark material, adding buckles or Velcro to keep them in place. Next, you need a thigh- length, long-sleeved, V-neck t-shirt, followed by a chest plate. The chest plate can be made from a dark coloured vest and for added effect you can glue small overlaid squares of plastic or shiny satin material to look like the tiled protection worn in the Han Dynasty onto the vest. Otherwise, just wear the vest on its own. You also need wrist and shoulder protectors that can be made in the same way as the shin protectors. Another option for the shin, wrist and shoulder protectors is to use cardboard cut to fit and painted a dark colour. Use glue or Velcro to attach these protective pieces to the clothes. To complete your outfit, wear a long plait down your back, white socks and flat shoes, not forgetting your long sword! Now you know how to make a Mulan Warrior costume!
Mulan costume for a girl – Heroine costume
Mulan’s heroine outfit is worn near the end of the movie when she saves the emperor. To create this Mulan costume, you need to start with a light blue V-neck t-shirt or blouse with loose sleeves if possible. Next, you need a floor length cream coloured skirt, preferably with a bit of a kick at the ends. Then you want the outer garment, which needs to be a V-neck royal blue, thigh-length, cap sleeved dress. If you can’t find a cap sleeve dress, then take whatever you can get and remove the sleeves. Actually, a sleeveless wrap around dress is ideal. You will also need to cut the hemline in a diagonal with the high point on the right and starting at about the level of your buttocks. Now you need to find a mauve or purple sash that runs around the back of your neck, crosses your chest and wraps around the back of your waist. Cover the waist with a red cummerbund and then top this with a pink sash tied on the left. Matched with dark coloured flat pumps, a long gold medallion around your neck and a short dark bob, and you have the perfect heroine’s costume! Now you know how to dress up as Mulan throughout the entire movie!
Do you want to create a Mushu the dragon costume?
With the voice of Eddie Murphy, Mushu is the fast talking, self absorbed Chinese dragon who is Mulan’s guardian. He’s a red dragon, so you can start with a red bodysuit with long sleeves. Cut out a large piece of yellow material to the shape of your upper chest and abdomen and glue this in place on the bodysuit, marking out horizontal lines as you might see on a crocodile’s abdomen and chest. The dragons head might be the most difficult part of this Mulan costume, but a red peaked cap is a good start. Add dark cat’s ears on the top of the cap, big eyes on the front and teeth hanging from the brim (all made from felt and glued in place), add a tail made from red material, and you have another idea for how to dress up as Mulan or her trusty sidekick Mushu!
If you need more inspiration for your Mulan costume, check out the Mulan vaults at Costumebox!