Belle is an intelligent, intellectual, and free-spirited young woman whose educated and headstrong personality cast her as an oddball in her quaint 18th-century French village. Seeking adventure beyond what her small-town life can offer her, she embraces the opportunity to explore her newfound surroundings when she bravely volunteers herself to remain at the enchanted castle in her father's stead. Belle wears her iconic yellow and gold ballgown during her and the Beast's ballroom scene at the castle, when he ultimately proves his ability to love by releasing her from their agreement. She wears the gown again during the film's coda, dancing with Beast's alter ego, Prince Adam.
I've probably wanted to cosplay Belle since I first saw her in 1991 when I was 9 years old and she was one of the rare heroines at the time who was smart, argumentative, and wasn't blonde. While hair color seems like a silly subject when compared to much larger, systemic, and gross examples of under-representation in media, I will say that the 80s pushed the "blonde is beautiful" concept to the extent that by third grade I had numerous peers with dyed blonde hair and had actually begun to believe brunettes weren't pretty enough to be princesses or even lead female characters. This was a real thought I had which makes sense when you look at kids' 1980s female leads: Rainbow Brite, She-ra Princess of Power, Princess Zelda, Princess Peach, Princess Calla from Gummi Bears, Lady Lovely Locks, Supergirl, Barbie, Smufette, Brittany from The Chippettes, the Williams sisters from My Little Pony, Inspector Gaget's niece Penny - even the token girl Muppet on Sesame Street, Prairie Dawn, was blonde! There were exceptions, but most of the time the brunette, if she existed at all, was the less attractive nerdy sidekick or the evil one.
Regardless, Belle spoke to my little "take your expectations for me and shove them up your ass, I'm gonna go read" heart. This was a last-minute decision for Dragon*Con in 2016 when someone I knew was selling their pre-made - and lovely - Belle ballgown. Sketch also threw together Adam just to enjoy it with me. Although we'd love to make these ourselves, properly (and Sketch would love to make a full-on Beast), putting on this dress was a bit like a childhood dream come true. I never expected to be so viscerally thrilled to be a Disney princess, but the 9 year old inside me who felt so validated watching Belle tell Gaston to go fuck himself was squealing with joy wearing these.