The Tradition of Dressing Up
Many of us have memories of dressing up in our "Sunday best" for Easter, donning some new clothes and being fussed over to look as good as we can. We've seen the years of Easter parades in New York, with the throngs of bonnets and dresses on display. But, why do we, traditionally, wear new clothes for Easter? Is it a tradition that still holds as much importance in our fast-paced, shopaholic society? If we abide by tradition, how are we supposed to dress?
The tradition of dressing up for Easter or Spring stretches as far back as 300 A.D., when Roman Emperor Constantine declared that members of his court wear their finest clothing for Easter. Prior to this, newly baptized Christians wore white linen to symbolize rebirth and new life.
In other cultures, this tradition dates back to the Pagan worshipers of ancient times, who celebrated the vernal equinox with festivals in honor of Ostera, the Germanic Goddess of Spring. It was believed that wearing new clothes brought good fortune for the year. In Iran, the new year was celebrated on the first day of Spring, in the pre-Islamic ancient past. Similarly, the Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year by wearing new clothes.
Easter traditions in the United States, though, weren't popularly celebrated prior to the end of the Civil War. Puritan and Protestant religions, which dominated the majority of the country, saw no good reason for religious celebrations. After the horrors of the war, though, churches began to see Easter as a source of hope for suffering Americans. Easter came to be called the "Sunday of Joy," and women traded the darker colors of mourning for the brighter and happier colors of Spring.
Soon after, in the 1870s, the tradition of the New York Easter Parade began. Fifth Avenue became the focal point for throngs of women showing out in their newest, and most fashionable clothing. The parade became an event for fashion design, and a sort of precursor for New York Fashion Week. As with the Christmas holiday, retailers leveraged the popularity of the parade to promote their clothing.
By the middle of the 20th Century, dressing up for Easter had lost much of its religious significance. It came, instead, to symbolize American prosperity. Today, many of us still dress in new clothes for Easter. However, the tradition seems to have lost much of its "special" feeling. This is due to the simple fact that new clothes have become far more prevalent than ever before. Our avenues for shopping are so much broader than in the past, that getting new clothes has become less of an event, and more of a regular occurrence.
How do you Dress for Easter?
Now that we know why we dress up for Easter, or to celebrate the coming of spring, let's look at the traditional way you are "supposed" to dress up.
If you observe Easter Sunday by attending a church service, most churches opt for formal attire for this holiday. Of course, you know your chosen church family more than anyone else, so observe as your congregation does. Or, stand out! If you're observing tradition, though, your style should be modest and respectful. After all, you're celebrating the resurrection of Christ.
Women have a variety of dresses to wear. Easter is more about solid colors and floral patterns. A very traditional Easter dress may be white. However, pastel colors are also very prevalent. Greens, pinks, yellows, and other bright, Spring-related colors can add some personality to an otherwise white holiday. Here are some great examples of more modern, but tasteful Easter styles:
Accessories for Easter Sunday
It's important to accessorize your Easter attire with the right mix jewelry and a handbag or clutch. One of the most popular Easter accessories for women are, or course, hats. Pearls are an excellent choice for Easter, as well.
Here are a few of our favorite choices for your Easter headwear!
You don't have to be a fashion designer to realize that the shoes have to go with the outfit. For a formal setting, such as Church, heels may be in order. After the service, though, you may want to switch to slightly more casual flats for an Easter lunch or gathering.
While men and women should shy away from Easter patterned clothing, the same can be acceptable for children. In fact, it's often cute on children.
Btween Window Pane Jewel Neck Dress
Celebrate yourself, first
No matter how you choose to celebrate Easter, whether it's for your faith or for the celebration of Spring, whether you follow the traditions, or start your own, just remember to celebrate your unique style first. Traditions can be wonderful things, allowing us to infuse our own personality and sense of the fashionable into long-held staples of humankind. At Vanessa Jane, we love to celebrate uniqueness. That's why we carry such a large assortment of styles. Shop our store, and you're sure to find something that will fit any occassion.