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Disneyland Article
Dapper Day Returns
Chris Nichols
When Disney Imagineers of the 1950s and 60s created concept art for a new attraction, they populated the scene swirling with stylish patrons. The men often sported natty bow ties and fedoras, women were often shown in glamour gowns with three-hour hairdos. When Justin Jorgensen visited the parks he saw a sea of cargo shorts and flip flops and longed for something more elegant. In 2011 he created Dapper Day, a series of group outings to museums, music halls, and the Disney theme parks where guests can “Step out in Style.” The spring edition takes place April 6 and 7 at the Disneyland Hotel.

The former Imagineer is a creative consultant and designer who has worked with clients ranging from Dreamworks to the Long Beach Opera to a collaboration with former Moschino fashion director Jeremy Scott. He personally enjoys dressing up but doesn’t appreciate all the looky loos. “When you’re out in the world dressed up people are going to look at you and comment,” Jorgensen says. “I just like fashion and great style and don’t necessarily want the attention that can come along with that. I’ll confess it is not uncommon for me to incorporate various marijuana products, beta blockers, and the occasional Xanax into my diet before exiting the house in certain outfits.”

Jorgensen says that more than 10,000 people attend his dress-up meet-ups at Disneyland and huge fashion expo at the Disneyland Hotel. When newcomers are confused about a dress code or whether this is a themed or costume event, he tries to encourage them to develop their own personal looks. “Our events are about people celebrating their individual styles. Many take inspiration from Disney which is always fun to see,” he says. “Last season I saw a woman in a vintage tropical pirate print wearing a stack of different hats like in the Pirates of the Caribbean. She even had light-up earrings inspired by the lanterns in the Blue Bayou.”

“Nowadays there is so much more variety in style than when I was growing up,” says Linda Ly, who runs Orange County-based wedding and party service Grand Soirées and has attended nearly every outing. “Dapper Day gave me a place to showcase the looks I wanted to put together.” Now that the event has turned 13 and is officially a teenager, Jorgensen notes that young people who have been attending every year have had a chance to discover themselves through fashion. “We all know that trying to find one’s own identity is part of being a teenager and young adult,” he says. “They find their own identity by first experimenting with taking on identities of other characters.”

Dapper Day is not so much a celebration of fandom, like the unofficial Disney days dedicated to tiki or goth culture as it is an excuse to dress up for a night at the opera, a day at the museum, or an afternoon at Disneyland. “My friends really attend to people watch,” says Ly. “They might not be as dressy, They’ll just order something from Amazon.”

The expo will include 30,000 square feet of vintage and contemporary clothing for sale at the Disneyland Hotel along with custom designs created for the weekend. There will also be an on-site vintage-style barber shop and tattoo parlor, live music from rockabilly/punk/surf band Los Pakalolos and the Alpha Rhythm Kings.

Jorgensen dreamily describes his favorite Walter Van Beirendonck suit airbrushed with fluorescent pink and blue stripes as part of his next Dapper Day look. Then the conversation turns to hot weather and toddlers armed with ice cream cones and I think of all those people in flip flops and cargo shorts.

Dapper Day April 6 & 7, 2024 Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim

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