Before living in Japan, I used to think it was bizarre seeing people dressed up to go to a theme park. The practical part of my brain simply could not process why someone would want to torture themselves with a dress and uncomfortable shoes. I previously thought the concept of dressing up to go to a theme park was impractical and silly. Living in Japan, my thought process started to shift, but it wasn’t until I attended the Saving Mr. Banks Premiere last winter, that I discovered how much fun dressing up for the theme parks could be. Enter Dapper Day.
The scenes taped within the Disneyland seemed surreal with ladies in beautiful dresses, fancy hats and nylons, while the gents wore jackets and ties and smart shoes. They looked perfect, but sadly from an era long departed from today. I have always been staunchly entrenched in the “function over fashion” camp for many, many years. Even when I attended Grad Night back in 1997, I wore trousers that were baggy enough to hide my suede Vans sneakers. Thinking about how theme park visitors dress in the modern era gives quite a startling comparion. Fashion trends have changed considerably in the last sixty years, and these days, I see more girls with deliberate bra straps instead of stocking feet, which isn’t far removed from how people dress for air travel.
This is precisely why Dapper Day caught my attention. I often joke that at work, I do my damnedest to “bring the glamour back” to flying, but it tends to be a tiny, personal mission as many now compare flying to riding the bus. I cannot deny that this makes me sad. Perhaps, I have always had a different perspective on flying as I grew up in a family where my father worked for an airline. Flying as a non-revenue-stand by-space available passenger once required a stringent dress code. Wearing my Sunday church clothes and patent shoes was par for the course. Heck, the gate agents wouldn’t even issue my parents gate passes unless mom had her nylons on and dad had a jacket and tie (Yes, they would actually inspect and check).
On March, 9, I attended the Dapper Day spring meet up at WDW’s Magic Kingdom with Kim. It coincided with the unveiling of the brand new Festival of Fantasy Parade, so talk about a double whammy of excitment. I honestly had no clue as to what a loyal following Dapper Day possessed.I shouldn’t be surprised with the resurgence of ladies’ retro glamour and rockabilly pin-up fashion as well as touted “Return of the Gentleman,” complete with bow ties and pocket squares.
Our backsides made Orlando Weekly’s Sharp Dressed Guest List!
The concept of Disneybounding, dressing up in every day clothes that mimic the color palettes of Disney characters without arriving in a full costume. Kim put together a quite recognizable Donald Duck with her sailor collar, nautical swing skirted dress and saddle shoes. My attempt at Phineas & Ferb’s Agent P, apparently, was not nearly defined or recognizable to most. One Dapper Diva noted by slanted fedora with a teal ribbon and called me on it. (I was thrilled that I hadn’t completely failed at my first massive attempt at D’bounding.) I selected my “All Tied Up” dress by Bettie Page Clothing by Tatyana as the base piece. I added a metallic belt, big sunnies, pulled my hair into a side pony, and stepped into my Eloise heeled saddle shoes by G. H. Bass & Co.
Arriving a little later in the morning, the pack was already packed full of people, most of which were staking out viewing locations for The Festival of Fantasy Parade. After the parade, we made our way over to Liberty Square to board the Liberty Belle for a glamorous and fabulous cruise. Seeing the riverboat packed with elegantly dressed folks, it felt like walking into the cafeteria on the first day of school. You could feel eyeballs scoping everyone out from all levels of the ship. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I saw whispering and pointing, wondering if the running fashion commentary was positive.
With the first two decks packed, we hiked up to the Texas (Sun) Deck, and scoped out some railing. The weather was surprisingly cooperative: sunny with a couple of sparse clouds, but no glaring heat. One lovely guy asked us where our Dapper Day pins were, and upon the realization that we were without, he quickly gave us each one with a “Happy Dapper Day!” before bouncing off to the next group. One of the things I truly love about an event like this is the enthusiasm and passion folks have for promoting it. Additionally, the support and excitement people share while enjoying it. I know every day can’t be Dapper Day, but truly propels me to evaluate my current closet situation.
Around sunset, we made our way over to Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel. There was an overwhelming number of folks participating in DD, so we didn’t even bother attempting to get into the group shots taking place in front of the Carrousel was a little too overwhelming for my taste. A couple of photographers took our photographs, and it kills me that I didn’t manage to get their business cards. I would love to have copies of their work for my personal collection. The Dapper Derby was so much fun! The only challenge was attempting to mount my steed in a skirt and heels. There was a fair bit of hoisting to get myself onto my war horse!
After the Dapper Derby, we skipped the fireworks and headed over to Mizner’s Lounge at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. We intended on catching our cocktails and nibbles before the class crowds of Dapper Folk descended, but even arriving early, we had to play divide and conquer to snag a table. The space was not designed for a large group of folk, and there wasn’t nearly enough seating, so it truly took folks being conscientious about the other guests to make the experience pleasurable for all. A gentle request to all participants: be a thoughtful guest. Don’t monopolize all available seating, and if you see some new comers looking for a seat, try to finish up in a reasonable about of time. Make sure you tip your server. There is no point is dressing classy if your manners are horrid. It’s self-defeating otherwise.
It took all of five seconds for me to figure out what I wanted to drink: The Godiva Chocolate. This decadence in a glass was a glorious mix of several of my long time favorites: Stoli Vanil Vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, White Crème de Cacao, and Frangelico ($9.25). Pouring over the appetizers menu was a completely different issue. I felt for our server as they were grossly understaffed for the influx of guests, so I nursed my martini in a winged back chair as the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra played some killer live jazz. Some people even started swing dancing, which I miss to terribly. Without a dance partner, I merely tapped my foot to the beat. Next time, perhaps?
The Dapper Day Fall Soirée has been on my calendar pretty much since its announcement in the spring, and I finally started coordinating my ensemble for the evening. I’m drawing out my inner bad girl with a black wiggle dress, black heels, and some flashes of red. I’m still working on how to master that blasted winged liner, victory rolls, and the classic (yet dreadfully hard to master) red lip. Anybody got som solid DIY tips?
Unlike the spring event, the single scheduled event for Fall Soirée is a 6PM meet up for a nostalgic cruise on the Great Movie Ride, followed up with drinks and dancing at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort until 1AM. While there are not many planned events for the FS, I’m certain there will be some killer Tower of Terror photos and plenty of fashion appreciation as DHS is considerably smaller than Magic Kingdom. There will be greater concentration of Dapper per square foot (mathematically sound, right?!)!
I would love to grab a fancy drinkie or two at The Belle Vue Lounge. Of course, inside DHS, there is The Brown Derby and Tune-In Lounges both of which has killer cocktails and solid bar menus. I love Grandma’s Picnic Punch at Tune-In, but Dad’s Maui Wowie is next on the list! My sights at DBL are on the Martini Flight of the Stars which could very well decide between the Shelby Mayer, Honey Darling, & Dorma Nesmond. I’ve previously has a sip or two of the Jack Diamond, and Ben Appetit has my undivided attention. Where to start?!
Also, mark those calendars as the WDW DD spring date is March 14, 2015! It’s already on mine! I better start splotting now!. I’m already checking out the menu for the Tambu Lounge at the Polynesian for post-Dapper tiki drinks!
Event Date: March 9, 2014