In the past six decades, Disneyland’s style has evolved from a place of swing dancers with suspenders and petticoats to one of selfie-taking tourists wearing pin-filled lanyards and mouse ears. On Sunday Nov. 5, parkgoers took a stylish step back in time by participating in Disney’s Dapper Day, a biannual event dedicated to embracing the refined fashion of the past.
Participants stand out from the usual crowd of casually dressed guests by wearing vintage-inspired attire.The event allows partakers to experience the sense of community and class that is a part of Disney’s roots.
“Dapper Day means the ability to return class to the park when most people don’t really dress more than the average, ordinary shlub,” said Tami Elder, 38, a Dapper Day attendee since 2015. “It’s a wonderful thing to participate in because people have much more manners. The park is much nicer to visit when people are dressed nicely and it’s a great place to be.”
The event is not associated with the Walt Disney Company, and is promoted and planned by outside organizers and sponsors.
The first Dapper Day was in February 2011 when Justin Jorgensen organized a Disneyland Park gathering to give people a reason to deviate from casual tourist attire and dress to impress. A Dapper Day Expo is additionally hosted at the Disneyland Hotel with a $10 admission fee.
The events have gained traction through Disney-related social media accounts, word-of-mouth and unplanned encounters.
Camille Santiago, 18, came to Dapper Day by accident last year. She participated in the event for the first time on Sunday by creating her ‘50s-inspired outfit with the help of Amazon and her grandma’s fashion expertise.
Because of its increasing popularity, the event drew in several Cal State Fullerton students.
“I’ve always admired ‘30s, ‘50s and ‘60s hairstyles, dress wear, music, everything. I’ve always told people that I was born in the wrong era because that’s what I go to most of the time,” said CSUF freshman Isabel Venegas.
Her fellow CSUF freshmen Tessa Wong and Helen Newton, decided to participate in the event together for the first time this fall.
“I love vintage fashion, the hairstyles, and I also love the concept of DisneyBounding,” said Wong, who created a winter Belle-inspired outfit from “Beauty and the Beast.” “I spent a good few months prepping for the costuming, prepping for the hair and what I’m going to do.”
DisneyBounding is when fans create outfits inspired by characters in Disney films with items found in their own closets. Adults often get around Disneyland’s no-costume policy this way on Dapper Day, fusing this idea with their vintage outfits.
Several participants threw together an outfit last minute, while others spend months prepping for the day.
“I think a lot of people might be held back by the feeling that they are pressured into dressing period appropriately, but it’s really not like that at all,” Newton said. “No one is going to judge you for not wearing pin curls and victory rolls and all that sort of stuff. It’s a very inclusive event.”
Dapper Day showcases the common love that people have for Disney and uncovers the connection that they share.
“It’s a different kind of environment when everyone is dressed up because more people talk to each other. It brings back how old times used to be before phones and everything else, where people are complimenting and starting conversation,” said Analise Trujillo, 22. “That’s what I love, the people.”
Trujillo dressed up with her mother Jennie Mendez, 42, and best friend Denise Balaoro, 22, as a ‘50s-style trio of kittens from “The Aristocats.” Her mother has been taking her to the park since she was a toddler, and calls Disneyland her home.
“We we raised here. Thanks to (my mom), we have all these awesome memories with our families,” Trujillo said. “Now, when I get older and if I have kids, I want to bring them back here to recreate that same essence.”
The next Disneyland Dapper Day will be held on April 22, 2018.