Why Can’t I Find Pictures Of Average People Dressed Well For Thanksgiving???

It is hard to find people well dressed for Thanksgiving.

A stupid title for this post would be:  If you aren’t dressed, you are the turkey.  This is why we edit.

I was going to do a post about why one should dress for Thanksgiving.  And I was going to pepper it with pictures of people who are examples.  And do you know, aside from a few pictures promoting a line of clothes for Thanksgiving, you can’t find them?

Which makes my point even moreso.  The argument for casual clothes has always been comfort and I have always rejected that argument because if one shops and sizes correctly a suit is as comfortable as jeans.  And my own family notwithstanding, I would have thought more people dressed for Thanksgiving.  I assumed my situation was atypical, I have family in 4.500 square foot houses in Connecticut STILL drinking who-knows-what out of a mason jar with a mullet to watch the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving, but that has to the a glitch in the Matrix, right?

If you search “traditional thanksgiving 1950’s” and you start looking for well dressed men (women’s article coming tomorrow, everybody calm down) one picture repeats itself, and it ain’t cause of some brilliant SEO-ing.  Here:

Ok yes thanks for the tie, but by the way, (1) what is that tie and (2) are you really wearing a gold bracelet to Thanksgiving?

I got desperate (as one FB member told me over the weekend, I take this stuff too seriously) so I took a look at what Mr. Lauren publicizes for his family’s Thanksgiving wear.  Cynicism abounds when I look at stuff like this so I kind of figure all of these publicity-department-issued family pictures of celebrity family Thanksgiving shots are orchestrated and for actual dinner they are in draw strings.  How was I to know that the draw strings are front and center now???  Here, this is what I mean:

If I am not mistaken, the gentleman on the far left has a sportcoat and drawstrings. I did that too, sophmore year in undergrad on a walk of shame back to my dorm after a night that involved spilled Lambrusco in my lap at a truck stop in Lemars. My companion was both understanding and accommodating, and let me wear her sweats back to my room.

I have worn a tie to Thanksgiving pretty much every year since high school, and here’s why.  Thanksgiving is a day off, but it is a day off to celebrate gratitude.  If you take gratitude seriously (and if you have time and resources to read this then you have enough abundance in your life to show gratitude) then you should dress respectfully for it.  Mason_Mullet notwithstanding, even the other members of my extended family don’t dress for Thanksgiving.  “It’s a day off” is the rationale.  Ok, but you dress casual every other day, so if you are gonna drape something different on yourself, you by definition have to dress up.

Perhaps you navigate these waters better than I.  I remarked a few Thanksgivings ago about how a little formality at Thanksgiving is probably called for.  The response was some 2nd-glass-of -Mason-Jar-eye-opener declaration of non-snobbery, the bizarre but clung to opinion that if you dress up for anything other than a funeral or a wedding then you think you are better than everyone else, and that a hoodie at the table is “more real.”

I swear to you, I won’t tell you where, but this thing is $45 online.

Sure it is more real, if spending time with your family and an expression of communal thanks is so stressful that you need to stick your hands into sweatpants after dinner is more real.  And I am the guy who argues that the deli guy wearing a tie is Ivy.  It’s not airs, it’s honor.   You are not REALLY more true to things than I am because you can’t ever tuck anything into anything, you are REALLY more disrespectful than I am.

Of course, making allowances for the times and the company you keep is appropriate at Thanksgiving, and showing up overdressed to highlight the contrast between you and your less-grateful kin is a mistake.  One I have seen made.  When I say “seen made” – I mean I made it and saw it.  But still.  This is why the classics are the classics.  An OCBD with a knit tie and a sweater or sweater vest with khakis is at least showing an effort, and you can still toss a football in it.

I am going to do a deeper dive for 2021 appropriate Thanksgiving wear – let me know if you find anything?


22 Comments on "Why Can’t I Find Pictures Of Average People Dressed Well For Thanksgiving???"

  1. I’ll stick my neck out and bell the cat here. Average people look pretty damn average most of the time in 2021, holidays and special occasions included. And what now passes for “average” really ain’t much to write home about.

    Interestingly, while living in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh in the 1990s, a lovely place with a large Jewish population of all kinds, almost all families were dressed well (dressed with a ‘Capital D’) for the Saturday walk to and from temple whether reformed, orthodox, or another iteration of the religion. Likewise, while it has been quite a few years since I was invited to join a Jewish family for a special meal, absolutely EVERYONE was dressed and dressed well.

    Lack of pride and a Slob Modern anything goes approach to life in general seems to be a largely gentile phenomenon from what I observe. Is it any wonder we are in the state we’re in as a society?

    I am certain others will disagree, and I might be raked through the coals, drawn, and quartered for expressing that, but there we are. In closing, I would also counter that just because everyone else might be jumping from the sartorial bridge this holiday season into the worst possible attire for public consumption(besides a sagging diaper) does not me we should join them.

    Kind Regards,


  2. Try and image search on Google for ‘vintage family thanksgiving.’ You’ll turn up lots of idealized illustrations and photographs in which the boys and men are dress presentably. Hey, it gives a guy hope. We are fortunate in that we are across Lake Michigan from Wisconsin and do not typically join that particular branch of the extended family for holiday occasions. Did so once about 15 tears ago. Not again. Our little corner of Mid-Michigan is very pleasant, thank you.


  3. Nothing is more uncouth than wearing drawstring sweatpants to a holiday gathering.

    It is better to be over-dressed than underdressed. One can always remove a necktie but there is no remedy for the graven image of a man in sweatpants and boat shoes.

  4. From a practical perspective it’s difficult to cook the most complex dinner of the year while being well-dressed. If one has the good fortune to have staff in the kitchen then there are fewer excuses for not dressing well, but that population is a very narrow slice of the pumpkin pie.

  5. Wearing an apron and rolling up the shirtsleeves is a great way to dress for cooking, and then you can put the tweed or Shetland sweater back on when you’re done.
    I truly don’t get the drawstring pants thing. There are those who have medical issues affecting dexterity who actually need to wear either drawstring or elastic waist pants, which is quite understandable. Used in that circumstance, or for sleeping or exercising, they are dignified and appropriate. But not for a holiday dinner.

  6. Thank you, Nevada. Well said.

    Kind Regards,


  7. Charlottesville | November 15, 2021 at 12:13 pm |

    I second what Nevada, H-U and others have said above. I have usually been the family holiday cook over the past couple of decades, and when acting as host I manage a fairly large, traditional dinner on Thanksgiving with multiple courses and the usual accompaniments and still dine in coat and tie. I note that my wife bakes the pies the day before and, like many other lazy southern cooks, I rely on Sister Schubert for the Parker House rolls, but the rest is all on me. The early prep work is handled in an OCBD or sport shirt and khakis. Once the bird (usually turkey, sometimes duck) and dressing are in the oven, I clean up as needed and change. I remove the coat, don an apron and roll up my sleeves for any messy final work (e.g., making gravy, etc.) in the kitchen. Christmas is much the same, with with Easter being perhaps a bit dressier.

    This year, we have accepted an invitation to dine at the home of relatives who tend to be quite informal, and I will wear a sweater and cords, so as not to make them uncomfortable. As much as possible, one should try to put others at ease, but there is no need to descend to sweatpants and gym shoes.

    • I am responsible for the turkey and the turkey only. I have a minimalist approach, working with the theory that the less I do, the less I can mess up. There is nothing about my approach that an apron over a tie won’t manage.

  8. I wouldn’t mind having some bird with Miss Monroe in that outfit. WOOF!


  9. @sacksuit – Did you know that Marilyn Monroe was a Mayflower descendant? She descended from William Mullins and his wife, Alice, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden and Francis Cooke.

    Katharine Hepburn and Bing Crosby descended from William Brewster. Humphrey Bogart and Alec Baldwin from John Howland. There are millions of them. Hugh Hefner, Richard Gere and Sarah Palin, too.

  10. Try this:

    “Thanksgiving Dinner photos from the sixties”

    A veritable cornucopia!

  11. The Cookes, Aldens and Mullins must have been some real lookers.

    White Troy Shirtmakers Guild OCBD, Bill’s Khakis, Alden loafers and an ’80’s vintage BB 3/2 brown and grey herringbone tweed today. Getting nippy in former Princess Anne County.



  12. Well stated, JB.
    I agree.

    “… a little formality at Thanksgiving is probably called for. ”

    Amen. Indeed, a little more formality at damned near everything is called for.

    • Agreed. And a great idea for a post – a way to add formality to informal situations. THANKS!

  13. Mr Lauren’s addiction to Anglo -American nostalgia seems to have few limits.
    Here he stands with wife # 1- still his wife, wearing khaki jodhpurs with socks and
    hiking boots, a madras shirt and what looks like a Polo jacket from the ’80s. Is it a
    subtle homage to the Raj ? I doubt any respectable Pukkah Sahib would wear hiking boots
    with jodhpurs. The late 40s Ford woody in the background completes the picture of a
    designer at home in Mid Atlantic culture. Does the extend to his accent? When he speaks
    I wouldn’t be surprised if he expresses his inner George Plimpton.

  14. Old Bostonian | November 15, 2021 at 11:28 pm |

    A shorter title:
    “Why Can’t I Find Pictures Of Average People Dressed Well?”

    You make a very good point. – JB

  15. Roger Sack,
    RL doesn’t sound like George Plimpton to me:

  16. I feel this way with Christmas Eve/Christmas as well. We host a party for a pretty large extended family (about 30-35 people) so there’s a broad range of outfits. Without fail, three of my cousins (now aged 20, 22, and 30) always show up in sweatpants and a sweatshirt or fleece quarter zip. There’s never that much thought put into their decision, but after everyone leaves we do always make a small comment about how we put a lot of effort into hosting and it would be nice—not expected, but nice—if guests also put in some effort to make the whole experience more special.

  17. @Aaron: at least a decade ago, my brother and I took over the cooking duties for Thanksgiving, and each year our mother has given us each an apron with our name and the year on it, and we wear them from cocktails all the way through until we actually sit down at the table. And women tell me that men who know what they’re doing in the kitchen are attractive, so there you go!

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