Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

This familiar tune is sung this time of year, bringing everyone (except that one fussy newborn) lots of joy and good cheer. For me, this song was given new meaning and gave me great glee, when I heard it sung by a group of well-meaning Chinese restaurant workers in the cult classic, A Christmas Story.

If you haven’t seen this movie, do so right away, after you finish reading this post, of course.  It’s a wonderful film, narrated by Ralphie Parker, whose sole desire for Christmas is to receive a Red Ryder BB Gun. As one chaotic event after another invades their lives, the Parker family finds their Christmas dinner ruined by the redneck neighbor’s bloodhounds. So, like any dedicated parents, Mr. & Mrs. Parker lead their brood down to the only restaurant open on Christmas Day – Chop Suey Palace (conveniently located next to a bowling alley). Here’s the Utube clip.

Moving right along to the next stanza of that song, and the point of this post:

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. It’s about family and friends and generosity and decorations and lights and great food. It’s about a million things plus one. 

One of the main things is the gay apparel highlighted by this wonderful song. If your family is anything like mine, at some point in the Christmas festivities, there is one day where everyone dresses up in their “Sunday best”. Whether it’s a candlelight church service, or a Christmas carol pageant with the school children, or Christmas Eve Mass, most everybody has that moment when they are putting on their gay apparel to celebrate Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but as much as I enjoy putting on a suit and tie, or forcing my son into a red/green/gold plaid vest and matching bow tie, I love the night after all the festivities are done. For us, it’s gathering in the family room, comfortable and warm, to watch an old Christmas movie. I snuggle in with my children and reminisce about all the years that have passed. 

Wearing my Christmas feast sweatpants, I enjoy the stunning ensembles and glittering fashion worn by the stars on the screen. Better them than me after three helpings of mincemeat pie! 

Two of the best Christmas movies, White Christmas and Christmas in Connecticut had fashion designed by one woman. Over the years, I can only imagine the number of us who have stared in delight at the beautiful people wearing their gay apparel as we nod half-asleep in our armchairs. So, without further ado, here’s a couple favorites. Perhaps they will inspire you. If not, just consider this a preview of coming attractions. 

Have you ever heard of Edith Head? Me neither. Until now. Here she is:

And you thought that The Incredibles character Edna Mode was an original creation? Me too. Sometimes truth isn’t stranger than fiction. Sometimes they are one and the same.

Edith Head was responsible for the looks of many Hollywood starlets (including the incomparable Grace Kelly) during the 1940s and beyond. Speaking of plaid and bow ties, here’s a stunningly daring outfit she put together for Barbara Stanwyck:

Talk about bold. That bow nearly goes from shoulder to shoulder! If that isn’t festive apparel, I don’t know what is. But that’s the point. Christmas comes once a year, and it didn’t get started until a couple thousand years ago. It’s about celebrating and rejoicing over the wonderful blessings in life. Put some flair on this Christmas. Surprise your Aunt Carol, that stuffy pretentious lady who makes you feel bad for sending your Christmas cards later than December 5th.  Go big or go home!

Next, Edith designed this lovely number for Rosemary Clooney (some relation to George, I’m told) in White Christmas. As much as I love the style in this one, I’d love to find a party with that much pizzazz! Check it out – talk about your gay apparel!

Not only is that dress stunning, those tuxedos and top hats are pretty sharp. It might seem goofy, and I know it’s make-believe, but wouldn’t it be a hoot to dress like that one Christmas? What we wear influences our expectation for an event – what better way to celebrate the single greatest day in the history of mankind than by dressing up in our finest apparel? Fa la la la la, la la la la, indeed!

Maybe glittery style is not your thing. Maybe comfort trumps fashion for you. That’s ok, I’m an equal opportunity Christmas movie fashion consultant. For those of you who’d rather be cozy than chic, we’ve come full circle, back to A Christmas Story. Though not known for its wardrobe, it did inspire one particularly compelling outfit. If Rosemary Clooney and Barbara Stanwyck are too dressed up, try out Ralphie Parker’s festive ensemble, which he received Christmas morning. If nothing else, you’ll make memories for everyone, even stuffy Aunt Carol!

Epilogue – if you want to learn more about the fashion of Edith Head, here ya go!