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This Thread Expertly Breaks Down the Real-World Logistics of Fighting in a Ball Gown

Disney Princess Warriors.

brave merida fighting disney princess ballgown

We’re all about the intersection between entertainment fashion and real-world practicality when it comes to costumes for female characters, especially when we’re talking about armor and other battle attire. (Wonder Woman Amazons, anyone?)

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Fantasy author Melissa Caruso posted a lengthy Twitter thread yesterday tackling the practical logistics of fighting in ball gowns. She used Disney Princesses to illustrate her points, but this is handy information for anyone who may happen to need to kick some ass whilst attending a formal event.

First of all, Caruso promises it is possible to swordfight in a gown. She says she’s “been fighting in dresses (with, admittedly, foam weapons, but range of movement issues should be pretty similar) for many many years.”

But not all ballgowns are created equal when it comes to fighting. Some are much more practical than others, but the details of what makes a good fighting outfit may be surprising.

Caruso says it’s not actually volume that’s a problem. A big fluffy skirt is actually good for defense, as “all those petticoats could block or tangle a light slash. And the underlayers that make the skirt poofy (crinoline, etc) are also holding it away from your legs.”

Rather, the problem with these gowns is their length.

Still, she says, the skirts aren’t the problem. The problem is those damn Disney sleeves.

I never realized just how many Disney Princesses had off-the shoulder, arm-restricting sleeves. Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, and Ariel (in her human form; I don’t know about sword fighting underwater) would all have a hell of a time holding their own in a fight.

“You want sleeves that have range of motion in the shoulder,” she says. “Puffy or dangly sleeves are okay so long as they don’t dangle too much on your wrist or forearm, in which case circular motions can wrap them around your arm.” And a bit of spontaneous problem-solving is helpful.

Corsets aren’t the problem you’d think they’d be. Sure, you can’t bend over, but it’s not that different from a man’s breastplate. (Although she mentions in a separate thread that “corset fightability depends on the period &/or style of corset.”)

Purses and (unfortunately) cloaks are much bigger problems.

I have to say, I’m liking the odds of my Disney fave, Meg. Those are some sturdy shoulder straps. (Although I admit she may need to tear a slit or two in that skirt.)

Plus, she’s got her hair secured, which may or may not be an issue, depending on what kind of fighting we’re talking about.

Look, I’m not sure exactly when I may need this information, but I’m still glad to have it.

Check out Caruso’s entire thread here, or her entire timeline for what has evolved into bevy of sub-threads.

(via Twitter, image: Disney/Pixar)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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