When I was a little kid, we used to spend Thanksgiving at a cousin's of somebody's cousin. It was a large affair replete with generations of family members, lots of food, and, knowing the Koenig clan, it probably ended in some sort of sing-along. One of the things I remember clearly was that my mother dressed my sisters and me in our nicest outfits. Our hair was combed (a rarity), our faces cleaned and we looked like we were headed for somewhere all sorts of fancy.
Last year, if I am not mistaken, I ran the Sheltering Arms Turkey Trot and spent the majority of the day in my sweaty running gear shoveling crudite in my mouth as I mashed yams. I am sure eventually I showered and threw on a pair of jeans, but that was about as dressy as I got.
What happened to dressing nicely for Thanksgiving? Does anyone do this anymore? Thanksgiving used to be a high-end holiday and now it feels like a day of slack and slothery. When did this happen?
In trying to find some information on when we stopped caring about how we look at Thanksgiving, I stumbled on an eHow article entitled "How To Dress for Thanksgiving." The article states clearly that the only two things you'll need are casual clothing and comfy shoes. Because you might not know what to do with either of these items, there are also five instructions of what to do next once you have obtained said articles.
Firstly, the post states, "be casual." Cool, I think we got that from the things we need. The article goes on to mention that Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to consumption and then recovery. People should be conscience of their inherent excess on the day including the fact that in their state of gluttony they are guaranteed to spill dark colored cranberry sauce or gravy all over themselves and they will need to expand their stomachs, so best to go with elastic bands.
Is that the reason that we've stopped dressing up for the holiday? We instantly turn into fat slobs?
I threw this pondering out there to some friends and one of my friends who I consider the most socially responsible said that her family, too, has stopped dressing up as much as she recalls.
"When I was young, it seemed like everyone got dressed up way more than we do now. Over the years, things have gotten progressively more casual, which I blame on my cousins and on society in general."
Cousins aside, blaming society may be right on. Another possibility for our dressing down is due to the inclusion of football as a standard part of the day. Many families take to the outdoors and have a game of their own, and even more families than that sit on their butts all day glued to the television. Who in the hell wants to sit with a cold one watching the game in a pair of khakis? You'll look like a big dork.
Story continues on the next page.
I inquired of Art Attack's resident fashion expert, Christina Uticone , who in my opinion is the end-all on fashion, and she had this to say:
I think first, Americans are pretty casual to begin with! We are obsessed with being as comfortable in clothes as we are in pajamas, which is too bad. (Says the freelancer who works in sweats all day. HAHA!) I think laziness and eating too much are EXACTLY the reasons why we stopped dressing up. I also think people see Thanksgiving as an inherently more casual holiday--we toss the football around, play in the leaves, tend to stay in one place for long hours watching football/movies--than Christmas, which often includes a "going to church" component that ups the ante for getting dressed AND STAYING that way.
It all makes perfect sense.
What's so incongruous about this switch in attire is that Thanksgiving is the best time to take family photos. Finally, you are all together, rosy-cheeked and full of pie, what better time to make a mark in the old photo album? Aside from that, it's an easy shot for your annual holiday card. But the problem is you all look like you just stepped out of that website peopleofwalmart.com. How is it possible that the best-dressed item at the holiday table is the now turkey?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
There are certainly some families that still require a pair of slacks and a dress for dinner, but I would wager that number is diminishing. Is there a time when a nice ensemble is more required than others? A friend of mine told me this weekend she was hosting 23 people, which required the renting of tables and chairs. I bet she is expecting those 23 to show up wearing something decent on their person considering the trouble she is going through. But most of the friends I spoke with about this said they were fine in a pair of jeans and a tee.
So what holidays do we dress up for? Christmas? Easter? Arbor Day? Or have we become a culture that is just fine with all casual all the time? Regardless of what you wear, heeding the final advice of eHow contributor Ryn Gargulinski is probably a safe bet:
No matter how casual the affair, don't show up in a set of sweats. You can find equally comfortable outfits that don't make you appear to be ready to clean out your garage.
I concur, good man. At the very least wear a clean shirt.