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In My Easter Bonnet
by Amy Kenneley

Getting an Easter Outfit was a big event- prowling through racks of frilly dresses, trying on spring coats, the pairing of socks to shoes, finding the matching hat and purse. Second only to wearing the Easter Outfit was the requisite Easter Photo. You're dressed in your best, and here's the snap to prove it.

Sorting through photos to scrapbook, I came across all the old Easter photos. There is one of my Mom standing with some friends in front of St. Paul's church in downtown Cleveland on Easter Sunday, circa 1940's. She was wearing a rabbit-fur shortie coat, a Robin Hood cap perched on her thick pompadour hair style. The feather juts out at a very Sherwood Forest angle.

There are a lot of my early Easter photos wearing pastel colored coats, white Mary Janes, a little purse and little white gloves. A spring outfit was expected to last for many Sunday School classes in the coming year.

Fashion and Fads

Here is one from the 1950s. My girlfriend Cathy and I were headed to church, and being the independent teenagers we were, we both had identical navy-blue swing jackets, navy blue pencil- slim skirts, white nylon blouses, little pancake hats with veiling, white gloves and ballet slippers.

Now it is the 1960s. I'm married now, wearing a maternity dress and holding a daughter wearing an Easter outfit I had sewn for her. Later photos show little boys wearing hand-made outfits made by mom again-little Eton collars, short pants, and polyester plaid jackets. Large hats were in, and a few Easter photos show me hiding beneath huge-brimmed straw hats.

Moving into the 1970s, Dad's suits changed a little. The ties were narrow, then wide, then narrow again. One year he wore a leisure suit. The boys grew bigger, and now they wore multicolored shirts and bell-bottomed pants on Easter Sunday. Daughter wore a macramé poncho. My hats were now long gone, but my skirt hemline rose… and rose…then dropped almost to the ground.

The last photo I took of our family at Easter was taken on the front steps. We look as though we were heading for a fishing trip or a ball game.

Slouching towards Casualville

Sometime between the last hat I wore to church and the first underwear thong I spied a young thing wearing in the Amen Corner, the Casual Era slouched in. Sometime after the Thom McAn wingtips were retired and before the sandals with dirty toes came on the scene, a major evolution in self-administered sizing up must have occurred.

Maybe all the closet lights went out one day and we grabbed the first thing that we found on a hangar. Maybe we thought, "God doesn't care what we wear-he cares about souls, not soles." And then we proceeded to forget the biblical admonition about dressing for the banquet.

We came in our "everyday loungewear" instead of our festive best. Whatever the reason, the occasions for our dressing in our best have diminished mainly to weddings and funerals and the occasional gala.

Defining ourselves

I thought casual meant a little less dressy-sporty, even; but the dictionary says casual means offhand, without a plan, careless. Care-less does seem to define this new dress code that has sneaked into our communities. And I, for one, am OUTRAGED-so outraged I am going right to my closet to select a decent Easter outfit.

Hmmmm. In my closet are hanging 9 pair of pants, 4 pair of jeans, 15 T-shirt tops, 2 skirts and 2 dressy dresses.

Wearing pants really IS easier. I can wear knee-highs or no-highs. I can throw a simple top on and skim my toes into a pair of mules. Dressing down takes less effort, true.

If I wear a dress or skirt, pantyhose will have to be struggled into. And if pantyhose, then high heels. And if high heels, then earrings, or a scarf tucked somewhere.

In such a nice outfit, the car-coat with the milkshake stain on the front won't do, either. Out comes the dressy spring jacket.

Looking in the mirror, I can see it was an effort worth doing. I look finished; care-ful, not care-less. I look as though I am going somewhere. Somewhere important.

Well, I am! See you in church.



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