Here’s an idea on this historic glorious/infamous day when our country inaugurates its new president: how about creating a national fashion police to enforce standards of dress? There would be no more pajamas in the classroom or on the airplane, and hoodies would be banned from anyone over 18 or with a net worth over $10 million.
And presidents would have to wear hats and gloves on Inauguration Day, out of tradition and as a show of respect for the office.
Nah, that would be too draconian and dictatorial. Americans love their freedom. Sometimes you just wish freedom didn’t look so sloppy.
Let us raise a toast tonight in remembrance of JFK, and send best wishes to our madras-loving preppy prez GHWB, who was admitted to the hospital a few days ago.
God bless America, God bless Ivy, and God bless people who can’t stand the phrase “God bless,” because they’re our fellow Americans, too. We can all at least agree that a blue oxford-cloth buttondown is a special thing indeed. — CC
Let us also remember the sartorial splendor that Reagan showed at his first inauguration, which was perhaps the last time that the stroller was seen on a prominent person in America.
This post brought a smile to my face and I thank you.
Make my OCBD aqua or mint and I will let you slide. Yes, I am one of them. 🙂
Hasn’t it been a truism of the clothing industry that Kennedy killed the hat by going hatless at his inauguration?
Russell, that’s a modern myth. As the picture clearly shows, Kennedy did wear a hat to his inauguration.
It’s been discussed here before, but as I recall, JFK thought that hats were unflattering to him, so he generally did not wear them. He also had great hair, so rather than cover that up, he went hatless.
What killed the hat? There are several theories, each of which has its merits. One holds that lower car roofs made it harder to wear hats in a car. Another says that since car heating improved, men needed hats only when going between their cars and either their homes or their offices, and since the amount of time hats got worn was so short, many men didn’t bother to wear them. Yet another says that excessive hat-check charges contributed to their demise. No doubt there are other theories, but in the end, it was probably a change in fashion that killed the hat.
Hats were already losing popularity in the 1950s, and then the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s made everything traditional unpopular. While you can see hippies and other counter-cultural types sporting non-traditional hats in the late 60s (e.g., John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas) and into the 70s (think pimp hats), changing popular fashion was probably the biggest factor in the hat’s decline.
ref: Neil Steinberg’s “Hatless Jack”.
JFK wore a stroller to diplomatic receptions (as did LBJ as VP), and morning dress when warranted, such as at his inauguration. This seemed to change exclusively to business suits after the Kennedy assassination, and notwithstanding Reagan’s attempt at a revival (stroller to first inauguration, morning dress now and then, such as when meeting the Emperor of Japan), the ship seems to have sailed on daytime formalwear by the late 1960s.
I believe your assessment is correct, Taliesin. I do wear a stroller now and then, mainly for certain church events (Easter and baptisms) and some ceremonial things at work, and anticipate wearing it to my children’s weddings, but I must acknowledge that it is extinct in society at large.
Nicholas Antongiavanni noted the following in his speech/essay on Wedding Attire in the Modern World (http://web.archive.org/web/20111011094326/http://askandyaboutclothes.com/Tutorials/AntongiavanniWEDDINGATTIRE.htm):
It is a strange fact that the stroller is now much less popular than the morning coat, considering that usually in these matters, it is the more formal and more old-fashioned garment that dies first. Just look at evening formal wear. Tails—analogous to the morning coat—are all but dead, whereas the dinner jacket—the nighttime equivalent of the stroller—is still relatively healthy.
So yes, formalwear, in both the daytime and the evening, is nearly dead, and semi-formalwear is healthy only at night. I will still wear my stroller, though—I think it’s so far removed from most people’s consciousness that I look dressed up rather than costumed, though perhaps I need a second opinion on that.