I’m a big proponent of making your own Occasions. Going to a museum or even dinner with friends becomes a #Menswear event when you all get to do it while wearing clothes you enjoy. As we get older (and remote work becomes more accepted), acknowledging our Agency of Occasion seems like the best way to preserve the fun of classic menswear. But even with this Agency, it’s nice to have an external reason to dress up. There is less pressure, to me at least, and it can even serve as a point of inspiration to create a fit; parameters can be fun, especially when you’re too used to making your own context every week.
That’s why I look forward to each Dapper Day event. In previous years it was the only “real” occasion for me to get dressed up. Now that I’m able to do whatever I want, Dapper Day becomes more fun, an event to be in service of that other people happen to also be participating in.
Most people know Dapper Day for their outings to Disney parks all over the world. While I am definitely a [dreaded] Disney Adult, I’ve always preferred their non-Disney events. Disney isn’t in my regular life anymore (passes are expensive and I don’t feel like driving down there) whereas museums are, so it’s nice to have an event that reinforces the idea that people can go to places dressed up! To be clear, Dapper Day isn’t a period thing; it just means that you are invited to Step Out in Style, whatever that happens to mean to you.
The first Dapper Day outing since the pandemic was indeed a Disney event which I was actually happy to go to. It felt like my heyday back in 2017, when Spencer and I would go around the parks in our true vintage duds and see a few familiar faces. Things have changed and since our regular hangs are a form of menswear Occasions already, Dapper Day at Disneyland isn’t a priority. I really wanted the museum events to come back; the LACMA soiree was one of the best evenings I’ve ever had.
Sure enough, Dapper Day announced a new spring outing to The Huntington. It’s a beautiful place that is part garden and part museum, by which I mean there are around 4-5 gardens and three museums, all on a giant piece of Pasadena real estate. I’ve been there before, but the guys and I spent too much time outside and not enough time inside looking at the art. With this new Dapper Day event, I was ready to correct that mistake. After all, they had a few cool curations on display at the time: Gee’s Bend and Inspiring Walt Disney, exhibits on American quilts and the French Decorative Arts, respectively. The Huntington is not free so I wasn’t expecting too many people to be dressed up, though at this point I don’t mind standing out.
Since this was “spring” (it was actually a slightly humid and gloomy day), I decided to play into jaunty weekend Esquire Man vibes. Again, Dapper Day isn’t necessarily about period style but it is nice to use that framing in order to inspire an outfit, at least more than I typically do for everyday wear.
I ended up wearing my khaki cotton DB suit from Atelier Fugue (at this point, he’s made all but two of my suits). A khaki DB just feels super 1930s to me, though back then it was probably made of wool gabardine. It also contrasts against my SB khaki suit, which leans a bit more 1960s trad. I leaned into the period styling with a pale green true vintage spearpoint and a cool blue repp stripe tie from the 1930s.
The main ideas of this look is actually a bit of an Outfit Repeat, as I had previously worn this shirt and tie combo with my SB khaki suit. This really shows the effect of the different expressive features of this DB, which is enough to make this look different. Of course the shoes are different here (suede split toes over tassels), but the other expressive details of the outfit come with my trusty brown Wellema fedora and my round glasses. Someone told me that this look was very “1930s Shanghai” and I definitely had Asian 30s style in mind when I put this together (though there was a particular Apparel Arts Illustration in mind). There is a Chinese garden in The Huntington, so that probably was inspirational too!
Overall this is a look I would have loved to do for previous Dapper Days but never did since I never found a period khaki DB in my size. I felt really great wearing this around The Huntington, not just because it was Dapper Day but because I genuinely loved my outfit. Self Actualization with what is basically the dream wardrobe I’ve always wanted is a great feeling.
Isabel was down to attend and we had a great time running into old friends like Hector and Linda and especially seeing the gorgeous grounds and artwork. We ran into Justin, founder of Dapper Day, on the way out and told him that he’s gotta do this again– and maybe add more museums! Apparently, LACMA had let go of their events staff but there may be another Huntington Outing in the future….
I guess the next confirmed event is Dapper Day at Disneyland (the Expo that is), though I’m always making up reasons to dress up!
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