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Historically Accurate Belle by Wickfield Historically Accurate Belle by Wickfield
Being the history geek that I am, I guess it is kind of surprising that I haven't really done a "historically accurate" animation series before, but after seeing that awesome Buzzfeed Disney Princess video, and of course all the amazing art on here, I was inspired to make my own.  I guess it is better late than never!

As I've said before elsewhere, from an artistic standpoint, I'm not at all bothered by the animated designs of the characters in Disney and Dreamworks films. They weren't documentaries after all so in most cases they didn't need to be accurate, and in animation in particular, it is more important to convey character and style in the designs.  I am not trying to "fix" anything because I don't think there is anything to fix!  That being said, it can still be fun to learn how your favorite characters might have looked if they had existed in real life.  :) (Smile)  

For my series, I am trying to be as accurate as I possibly can.  I'm taking the country of origin, the social class, the culture, and the specific decade into mind (instead of just a general sweep of multiple decades), and also adapting the colors and styles to fit what was available and worn everyday.  I will try to keep the characters recognizable where I can, but I want to make my pictures realistic and so some elements of the original designs might be altered in the process.
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Some of the Disney princesses seem to get a lot of historical art, and Belle is one of them, probably because she has one of the easiest movies to “date”, with BATB taking place sometime in the 18th century.  I wanted to do something really different for Belle, so I decided to draw her wearing her everyday outfit for life in her French village, since I don’t believe I’ve seen that in a historical version before.

I think BATB probably takes place in the mid-18th century – it has to take place before the French Revolution when the nobles were killed, and the hairstyles and fashions of the 1760s seem to fit Belle better than the overblown costumes  of the 1770s, with the giant wigs and panniers.  Looking at the aristocratic clothing, therefore, gave me a good reference point for her common clothing.  I studied lots of paintings of “rural” life for inspiration for Belle’s blue dress.  At this point in history, social status really dictated what kinds of clothing you would wear.  In Disney’s version, Belle’s father would be a laborer or a tradesman, a member of the working class, so Belle would wear working class clothing as well.  In order to reduce the fabric used and probably increase the life of a garment through mixing and matching, rural women wore a “shortgown,” which is similar to a jacket, over a “petticoat,” aka a skirt.  This ensemble is everywhere in art from that time period, not just in France but all over Europe as well.  Belle would likely fill in the neckline with a “fichu,” a kerchief worn for modesty and warmth.  She would top her daily clothing with a “pinner” apron, so called because it doesn’t have straps but needs to be pinned to the bodice.

One thing that Disney ignores a lot of the time is the proper headgear.  ALL lower and middle class Frenchwomen of this period would have worn some kind of linen cap to cover their hair.  (Only aristocrats, it seems, were exempt from this.)  When running errands, Belle would also need a hat.  Since this is supposed to be from the scene at the beginning of the movie, I drew her in one of those picturesque straw hats called the Bergere so common in the period. 

Speaking of errands, in Belle’s little town, there probably wouldn’t have been a store devoted completely to books, although a merchant might have few copies of some books among his other wares. The books from this time period were only bound in plain brown leather, if they were bound at all – a lot of them just had the paper covers.  The only real book of French fairytales at this time would have been Charles Perrault’s Histoires ou contes du temps passé</a>, and it is unlikely that Belle would be reading it in her station, since it was mostly limited to the aristocrats in the 17th century (there could be a copy in the castle, though).  She might have had Shakespeare or Gulliver’s Travels, but it is more likely that she had some fairly boring, very moralistic reading material.  Historically, the majority of people would have felt like Gaston did about Belle’s reading, and felt that it was lazy for a woman to read instead of devote herself to more industrious activities. 

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:iconmoonlitinuyasha1985:
moonlitinuyasha1985 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2018
I don't know, I think Belle could totally rock a pannier gown. :)
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm sure she could!
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:iconaedelstein12:
aedelstein12 Featured By Owner May 14, 2018
I highly recommend looking up Belle's yellow gown from the Paris production at the Theatre Mogador.  It's my favorite historical inspired version of her gown!  Here's a video of the dance scene: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gYlSe… I've been obsessing over it ever since I first saw this production.  I'm going to be wearing something similar to a ball in Versailles, but mine isn't nearly as magical!
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner May 14, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, you're right, those costumes are beautiful!   I like Lumiere's too :)
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:iconbloodyfaery:
bloodyfaery Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2018
Hey! I just bought a book on 18th century costuming and I thought it'd be okay, but I thought I should definitely ask permission first. I ADORE this imagining and I was hoping you'd give me permission to recreate it. I'll be debuting the cosplay at Colossalcon in Sandusky, OH this year. I'm so stoked, I can barely wait two days for the book to arrive in the mail lmao.
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:iconsharonp13:
sharonp13 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2018
I have this same idea!
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ooh I think I know which book you are talking about, is it by American Duchess?  
Anyway, you can absolutely cosplay it!  Be sure to show me lots of pictures! :)
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:iconbloodyfaery:
bloodyfaery Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018
I will! I'm so excited! Only a couple days until I purchase my stays and get started! It is American Duchess's book, yes. There are some really lovely instructions. I'll have to do some finagling on designs they give to make it work but I'm confident. c: 
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's so great! I kept seeing that book all over IG, I almost wanted to buy it myself even though I don't make historic lothing. ;)
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:iconbloodyfaery:
bloodyfaery Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018
You should anyway lol. It's such a beautiful book and very informative. I don't know, it might even help with some of your art reconstructions to know how exactly some of these were made and junk.

I was looking at fabric out of boredom and I found a beautiful solid blue cotton but I'm considering switching out the brown skirt for this www.fabric.com/buy/0448666/ros…. I don't think I'll use it cause it's a lil fancy for peasant Belle but it got me thinking. I will probably end up making the skirt blue too for a more obviously Belle look though, if that's all right.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem. :)  I used the two colors at it seemed more typical in illustrations of the period, but it's your project so  you can use whatever artistic license you want. :)
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:iconmoon-shadow-1985:
Moon-Shadow-1985 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2017
What about her prince, too? 

:)
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, I decided not to draw Prince Adam because the fashion of 18th century French nobility was SO ruffly and elegant he just wouldn't look like himself at all - he'd look more like Lumiere! :D  I did draw Gaston though, you can find him in my gallery. 
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:iconjeffersonfan99:
JeffersonFan99 Featured By Owner Edited Dec 19, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
What about Lumiere, as a suggestion (Not a request), in gold baroque outfit with flaming ginger hair as Thomas Jefferson.
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:iconmoon-shadow-1985:
Moon-Shadow-1985 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2017
:cries:

What about "Pride and Prejudice" characters? 
:?
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:iconinthelongrun:
inthelongrun Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017
This is such a beautiful piece!  I'm a cosplayer and historical costumer, and I wanted to ask if you would be okay with me making a costume based on your design.  I would of course link here to provide credit (and I'd be happy to link to your Instagram account and Facebook page if you have them).  You can see examples of my past costumes at inthelongrun.wordpress.com/
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think I've actually sen your blog before!  Of course you can cosplay my design, just let me know when it's done so I can see the pictures! :)
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:iconinthelongrun:
inthelongrun Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017
Awesome, thank you so much!  I'm pumped to make a Belle costume after seeing the new movie, but I'm feeling your design more than the costumes in the film.  Must be the historical costumer in me.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I know what you mean, I think the movie costumes needed way more 18th century touches! :D  If you need any additional info on fabric or other design elements let me know.  I think I actually used some of these patterns as reference when I was drawing the picture so they might be helpful: www.jpryan.com/ladiespatterns.…
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:iconinthelongrun:
inthelongrun Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017
Thanks for the pattern info!  I have actually used one of the JP Ryan jacket patterns before with good results, so it's helpful to know that you were thinking of those as reference.  On fabric, I was thinking possible using a plain weave linen or wool for the blue shortgown, then maybe also a dark brown wool or linen for the petticoat skirt.  
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Both sound awesome!  I know it's supposed to be fall...ish during Beauty and the Beast so maybe wool for the shortgown though linen would probably be cheaper.  I can't wait to see how it turns out! :la:
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:iconinthelongrun:
inthelongrun Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2017
I will have better photos later, but I finished my costume. Thanks for providing such amazing inspiration art! www.instagram.com/p/BVdvzYTHTf…
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OMG, that is so amazing! :la:  I love your addition of the red necklace and shoes, with the rose they were the perfect touch! 
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(1 Reply)
:iconinthelongrun:
inthelongrun Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017
Thanks! I'm leaning towards wool too, in part because I haven't sewn with it in a while and it's nice to change things up a bit.  I'm excited to go fabric shopping!
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:iconinthelongrun:
inthelongrun Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2017
I just ordered some blue wool for the short gown! So excited to start sewing it!
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:iconluludecat:
luludecat Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2017
Would a female servant would had a similar outfit to belle's look here? 
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Probably, depending on the household and rank of the servant.
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:iconluludecat:
luludecat Featured By Owner Edited Feb 18, 2017
What are the best 18th century drawings or painting of male and female servants of that time?  
I had heard that servants working for royalty at that time had to follow strict dress codes.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, a well-dressed servant reflected well on their master because if your servants wore fancier clothing it meant you were wealthy! :D I honestly don't know many 18th c artists by name but you should look on Pinterest, there are lots of boards dedicated to working class costumes.
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:iconluludecat:
luludecat Featured By Owner Edited Feb 18, 2017
To be honest I hate female servants in films and TV shows about the 18th century showing their hair while workingAngered  In reality, they would cover her hair with a cap like Belle is. Sometimes, they don't even wear an apron if they are cleaning the house. I can see why a master would not want his servants wearing rags: it may create impression of him not treating his staff properly and it will look like that he got them off the streets.

Speaking about French history: most French people thought most of history, and to this day, were Catholics. Therefore it was highly likely that the prince was raised catholic since most French nobles were Catholics. Belle was most likely a catholic but she could of been a protestant since 18th century France had small communities of them. Perhaps that is why she was called an outsider, most of the villagers were Catholics while Belle and her Father were Protestants. 
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, most period films are adapted to appeal to modern tastes, I think a casual viewer would find accurate clothing too stiff or stuffy...oh well, that's what fanart is for!

And good point about the prince being raised Catholic! In the villagers' defense though Maurice IS pretty weird and Belle was unusual, so instead of religion they were probably just judging them on some of the odd stuff they did. XD
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:iconjdluvasqee:
JDLuvaSQEE Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Lovely!!! According to Disney Wikia, Bell's mother was of vieux riche class, meaning that she is from the aristocratic class and so Belle would have had an upper-class education, therefore it would be more likely that Belle is educated.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hmm, I wonder if that's true? Most of these fan wikis are always getting vandalized lol.
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:iconjdluvasqee:
JDLuvaSQEE Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
If it is true, tt would make sense why Belle isn't comfortable or used to living poor in a cottage near the farming village. lol true!
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:iconmoonlitinuyasha1985:
moonlitinuyasha1985 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2016
Not hating on how she looked in the film, I like how she looks here. :D
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks, I think the period styling really suits her character. :)
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:iconmoonlitinuyasha1985:
moonlitinuyasha1985 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2016
You're welcome, and it certainly does. :D
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:iconeirivero:
EIRivero Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016
If you read the great cat massacre (that is the title), it would ilustratrated that by the second half of the XVIII century the dress code had become very blurry. In fact the text has the opinion of a small bourgois that have become dismayed by the how blurry the line between classes is at the time. by the way, bourgois originaly meant just a person who had the means to make money by him/her self, a master artesan, architec or mason could be one. heck, the text makes clear that some master tailors could pass because the had the means to make very good clothes.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Interesting!
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:iconeirivero:
EIRivero Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016
another tip: in the book is daid that, if the fairy tale has a noble or a royal as protagonist is very probably that is a germanic story, and on the contrary, if the protagonist is a pauper or a person from working class or merchant background is very likely that the story is french. bonous points if the story is set in a forest because germans love they forest very much. one of my teacher lived in germany and has very funny stores about curious things of the germans.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, that is very interesting too, and now that I think of it it is also accurate. I might have to check that book out!
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:iconeirivero:
EIRivero Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016
designstudiesdiscourses.files.…
hier ist das buch. We were shock when we read the first case of the book
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, that's awesome, thanks! I can't wait to give it a look! ^_^
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:iconeirivero:
EIRivero Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016
One chapter is pretty funny because it is about how books were made and what they considered a good book is pretty interesting: " this books is made of horrible paper, never send this again", "the font is ugly", "the paste is pretty unconfortable to the tact". so, the autor remarks that...yeah the books was actualy judge by ist cover, and paper, font. it neede to be attractive in all forms
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:iconlysmerry:
Lysmerry Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2016
I love this so much! I'm also a history nerd and I've seen this style in so many prints, but never in fan art.
I'm a huge fan of Mozart operas, and this reminds me of designs for one of my favorite characters, Susanna from the Marriage of Figaro. She's a clever servant who with her fiancee Figaro, outwits her betters. A long skirt was a sign of status, because you could drag it around, but if you had errands or chores, you would need a shorter one. I love 18th century fashion and history (I often say that the best periods in style were the 1970s and the 1790s)
Here's a Susanna:  www.diomedia.com/stock-photo-w…
I love the historical background you give on everything, even books! 
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, a lot of people have an idea of what "18th century" fashion means which is the robe l'anglaise style most people draw, but that is really only appropriate for certain classes of women.  Like you said, lower-class women needed more practical clothes (with shorter skirts) that wouldn't get ruined in their daily work!  Thanks for sharing the pic of Susanna, I've never seen it before but there is definitely a resemblance! :)
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:icontorukun1:
ToruKun1 Featured By Owner Edited Feb 12, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
The bit about the scarcity of books (and what Gaston and everyone else believed) completely changes the context of the story, Belle seems like a lazy asshole who got hitched to royalty without deserving it LMAO :lmao:
The headcanon/implication that Belle's from a formerly wealthy family and can't get used to rural life softens it a bit :D
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
People in the 18th century had a lot of hangups, lol.  Even aristocratic ladies of leisure were still expected to have "useful" hobbies that produced a product, like embroidery or knitting.  Reading didn't produce anything of value, especially reading fictional novels like Belle does - not to mention it took away from the raising of your children and other household duties.  So yeah, in the 18th century Belle wouldn't have just been odd, she would have been as lazy as could be!

And I always had that same headcanon too, that that was why they were fairly new to "little town" life. ;)
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:iconcreativechick614:
CreativeChick614 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2015  Hobbyist
I heard from a video on YouTube that Belle's dress in the movie was based off of Dorothy's from 'The Wizard of Oz.'
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