Note, this post was originally written in July 2014. For an update on Frozen costumes go here.)
We ordered an Elsa and Anna dress from the DisneyStore in advance of the movie being released in 2013. When they arrived, my daughter's made-believe what they thought the movie would be about, based on the details on the costume. Conversations like "Obviously, I am the princess of winter and you're the princess of summer because see the flowers on your skirt?" abound, and what they ultimately came up with was nothing like the movie (and a lot like "Tinkerbelle: Secret of the Wings") but they had a lot of fun making it up! By the time we attended the opening weekend for the movie, the costumes were well-worn.
I thought I'd take a moment and share what I know about the variety of Frozen costumes that you might see popping up for sale on eBay and elsewhere. (If you're new to the princess costume world, you might try my Princess Costume Primer on the different types of kids costumes available.)
You knew that Elsa dress was hot right now, but did you know that more than 6 variations of Frozen Costumes were available from Disney this year for Anna and Elsa? SIX!
And that's not counting costumes available from third-party stores like Target and Walmart et al. (Oh, and Etsy! Etsy's been going nuts with Frozen costumes.) I'm not going to discuss alternate costumes here, simply because we don't have them and I haven't seen them personally to comment. Instead, this review will focus on the costumes from the Disney Store and Disney Parks... which is plenty to keep me busy writing all afternoon.
In fact, there are so many costumes I've split them into separate posts!
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN
The Blue Gown is the dress that Elsa creates for herself while she is singing "Let It Go" and building her ice castle. If you take the movie literally, I guess we're supposed to believe it's made out of ice and frost...? Fortunately, the kids costumes available are more durable and less chilly.
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: STANDARD EDITIONS (versions 1 and 2)
A deluxe version of Elsa's costume became available for sale a few months before the movie. It features sheer sleeves, a spangly bodice, and a trailing cape of glittery snowflakes. A newer version of this same dress quietly replaced the original sometime around May of this year. The only reason I know this is because I was trying to buy a costume for a friend (which ultimately ended up as my raffle costume) and when it arrived I thought perhaps I'd received a defect.
The most noticeable difference is that the newer version has a shorter cape--- it ends about six inches above the hem of the dress, whereas the original cape hangs about two inches longer than the dress. I actually think this is an improvement because the cape on the original dress dragged on the ground when Viola wore it, ultimately getting dirty and tattered and occasionally stepped on.
Another difference between the two versions is that the cameo of Elsa on the first edition dress is oval while the new one is snowflake shaped. Again, I think this is an improvement: the snowflake shape is a nice detail more like what's on the LE version. It also better matches the shoes.
This is one of my favorite costumes, and Elsa's Blue Gown is one of the rare instances where I actually prefer the Deluxe costume to the Limited Edition costume because I think it better represents the costume in the film, especially when it comes to the sheer sleeves and cape.
The Store images make it look like the cape difference isn't that big, but it's quite noticeable. Here is the image I took for the giveaway, to give you a sense (though note that the one on the left is size 7/8 and the one on the right is 5/6, so it's not exactly apples-to-apples).
Not enough information to decide whether or not you think this costume is pretty? Last winter we did a photoshoot with the Deluxe costume. Check it out here!
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: DELUXE
On 9/26/15 the Disney Store released a Deluxe Blue Elsa gown just in time for Halloween. It features a redesigned cape and bodice, as well as a ruffled skirt with snowflakes down the front and a blue jewel in place of the character cameo. The design is presumably to fit their other 2015 deluxe edition dresses, and it retails for $99. If being accurate to the costume design in the movie is important to you/your child, this probably isn't the dress for you. But it is lovely!
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: LIMITED EDITION
As I just mentioned above, this is not one of my favorite Limited Edition costumes. However, it is Viola's #1 favorite costume and so we won't be getting rid of it any time soon. (What do you think the odds are that they'll still be reselling for over $1,000 once she outgrows it?!)
You read that right: the Limited Edition Elsa costumes are selling on eBay for over $1,000! Only 1500 of the dresses were made, which is less than previous runs (I assumed it was because they sold both an Elsa and Anna Limited Edition costume at the same time, so I figure that if you add them together that's 3,000 (closer to what the production runs have been for previous princesses)).
Since it's a Limited Edition dress, it is beautiful and has lots of added touches that we've come to expect. That all goes without saying. So, let me tell you why this isn't my favorite costume: the sleeves are solid white with gems attached and look like what you might find on a kids' ice skating recital outfit. The cape is also more solid in coloring than the deluxe edition, with fuzzy snowflakes with a sequin pattern that reminds me of insect paths.... That pattern continues over the bedazzled bodice, btw. Other than those two features, the dress itself is pretty similar to the deluxe dress: it features the same spangly bodice and the skirt is essentially the same but is a paler blue and has some added silver thread running through the fabric. I'm gonna go ahead and say it: Don't pay $1,000 for this dress on eBay. If you're going to pay an exorbitant amount of money for an LE dress get your hands on Rapunzel or Belle or Snow White! :-)
One last thing to mention: the cape on the LE dress is removable and is attached with pretty sparkly buttons. Alas, those buttons are not securely fastened. We lost one button on the very first day and a close friend who bought the same dress lost 6 buttons! If you do buy a LE Elsa dress used or from a reseller, make sure you check that all the buttons are accounted for, and if you can sew I recommend putting in a few extra stitches before you let your daughter wear the dress just to be on the safe side because they are IMPOSSIBLE to match! I was very disappointed that Disney didn't include an extra button or two (you know, like you get when you buy a button down shirt or anything with buttons on it!), especially after I saw how easy the buttons were lost. A tip: we don't unfasten the cape any more, as Viola can get in and out (with help) of the dress, and that helps lessen the wear on those buttons.
Oh, I almost forgot: Both the Anna and Elsa LE dresses come in very nice garment bags (though they don't zip up). I loved this extra touch and wish our previous LE costumes had dedicated garment bags to safely store them away in! The tag is actually on the garment bag, not the dress itself, though so it might be hard in the coming years to tell whether that "NWT" resale costume has been previously worn or not.
Not enough information to decide whether or not you think this costume is pretty? For Viola's birthday she wore the LE costume and we have lots of pictures! Check them out here!
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: DELUXE PAJAMAS
I wanted to include the Disneystore Deluxe Pajamas on this list because they're adorable, and affordable! If you can't get your hands on one of the Elsa costumes, by all means snatch up a pair of these PJ's, they are fancy enough to substitute for a dress-up dress, with lots of shimmer and glitter! They are a favorite at our house, and I'm stalking the DisneyStore in hopes of getting a size 3t for Eva because she's been asking for an Elsa costume of her own.
On 9/26/15 the Disney Store released a redesigned version of the Deluxe PJ's which features a layered snowflake skirt and a short cape on the back. The insignia on the front is a more stylized picture of Elsa and has more color (specifically, saturated yellows and reds) than the original did. Between the two, I like the original design better.
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: THEME PARK VERSION
As I described in my Princess Costume Primer, the theme park versions of princess costumes tend to be shorter/lighter and lack some of the embellishment of their DisneyStore counterparts. (My theory is that this is because they take into consideration the Orlando heat). Elsa's costume is no exception: the theme park edition of the costume lacks the bedazzled bodice shared by both the Deluxe and LE versions, though the cape looks like it has many more snowflakes!
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: SHOES
LIGHT UP SHOES (left): The shoes that have been available in the store to accompany both the Deluxe and Limited Edition costumes were hard plastic light-up shoes. I'm not a big fan of those type of shoes to begin with. The Elsa light-up shoes did have a padded insert, so that was nice, but they are EXTREMELY narrow and unforgiving. Viola insists on wearing them, and every time she puts them on it makes me wince.
DELUXE SHOES (right): Around April, I found these alternative Elsa shoes on eBay--- I never saw them at the DisneyStore or DisneyStore.com, but they have Disney tags and they exactly match the LE dress and are "real" shoes, much more comfortable, and very pretty! (I'm told by a reader that these shoes retailed from JCPennys for $18; strangely, our pair (purchased from eBay) came with DisneyStore tags on them... hmm, a mystery!)
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: ACCESSORIES
JEWELS: Disney has also been selling an Elsa accessories set that includes a necklace, clip on earrings, and gloves. If I recall correctly it was around $20 for the set, and I'd say that's a really great deal! Though Elsa doesn't wear a necklace in the movie, the girls have loved the extra fancy jewelry.
GLOVES: But the real winner are the gloves, and I'd have probably paid $20 for them alone: Elsa's gloves play such a huge role in the film, and the girls' love re-enacting the scene where Anna pulls one glove off by accident. The only downside is that the gloves are one-size-fits all, and are way, way too big for Viola (at 6)... they look like they're suited for a 10 year old or older.
TIARA: Both Anna and Elsa have very similar crowns. Elsa's is silver and Anna's is gold. They're uniquely solid crowns, in that they have thick scrolling instead of more delicate pieces, making them a bit on the heavy side. The combs are always an issue for my girls (I really wish Disney would just do head-band crowns like they do for Cinderella!) but they're pretty enough. Nothing to write home about, but if you've got the rest of the get-up you've got to have the crown...
WIG: The accessories set comes with a clip-on-braid that attaches by means of a light-up hair clip. The DisneyStore and theme parks have also been selling full Elsa wigs. While the theme park version seems fairly tame, the DisneyStore version looks like it might be better suited to George Washington, and lights up in a way reminiscent of how Rapunzel's hair lights up---- not sure why exactly, seeing as Elsa's hair never lights up in the movie. Who knows, maybe the merchandise designers had been working on a light up wig for Rapunzel that got nixed and when Frozen came out they thought "hey, let's finally use that light-up hair technology we developed!" The wig is not one of my favorite accessories, but the kids enjoy it (I've noticed that Viola's brunette friends are especially drawn to it).
ELSA'S BLUE GOWN: DIY/ETSY
There are a ton of Elsa costumes available through Etsy, and McCall's has an official pattern for making your own if you're crafty and know how to sew! It's essentially a simple dress, unlike Anna's which has fancy embroidered flowers. The key would be finding the right fabrics to make it work (specifically a sheer snowflake pattern for the cape). I'm not sure you'd be able to make the dress for less than $50 (the cost of the Deluxe costume)---- just the pattern alone will set you back $15 unless you can find it on sale---- but until Disney gets the dresses stocked reliably this may be your best option. And, bonus!, if you buy a costume off Etsy you get to support local and independent artisans! Just make sure you thoroughly research the seller and are very clear about your expectations in terms of fabric and finishing details, if that's important to you. Plus, a DIY Elsa costume will help your little princess stand out from the crowd!