These women from Kern County, part of California’s agricultural heartland, are dressed up for a trip to Hawaii. According to Calisphere, they were part of a delegation from the Kern County business women’s organization. Look at their clothes! Not only are they in suits and dresses, but their outfits include hats and gloves. Even within this trio, however, there is a range of clothing styles. The woman on the far right is the most casually dressed in a shirtwaist dress without a hat. The one in the middle could easily be transplanted to a wedding reception with her fancy, put-together outfit. Her suit and those of her other companion show the start of the sleeker lines of the 1960s.
Today you can see almost any kind of clothing on airplanes, from business suits to blue jeans to what appear to be pajamas. I don’t think that the explanation is simply that clothing in general has gotten more casual, although of course it has. We have also radically altered our sense of what constitutes a “special occasion.” In 1957, going on an airplane trip was a huge event for most people, which deserved to be marked with special clothes.
What constitutes a special event these days? When and where do you wear your special clothes? I save my best outfits for the theater and the rare wedding invitation, but the difference between casual and special in my wardrobe is not that wide.