A day at Disneyland is a marathon, and the visitors lining up in the plaza outside the park were prepared to make it to the finish.
They had on sneakers and sweats and packs (both fanny and back). Young men with knee-length basketball shorts hanging off their hips shuffled alongside dads in cargo shorts and socks pulled up to their shins.
Moms, their hair pulled back in no-nonsense ponytails, trudged along in capri pants pushing strollers loaded down like the truck in “The Grapes of Wrath.”
Then, like a vision from another time, Christina Forst stood beside a lamppost in a blue floral dress and felt hat decorated with peacock feathers. Her lips were painted red and her fair skin matched the pearl-drop earrings and double-strand necklace she had crafted herself.
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“It’s just as comfortable coming in a dress as jeans and a T-shirt,” said Forst, a travel agent from Irvine, Calif. “Why not add the jewelry and the makeup and really make a statement?”
She was one in a group of thousands who had come on a Sunday for the twice-a-year event known as Dapper Day, hoping to add a touch of sartorial sophistication to a place where the words “Sunday” and “best” rarely meet.
Many saw themselves as tastefully appointed insurgents rebelling against a world in which jeans and golf shirts are acceptable at the office, celebrities have to be reminded to cover themselves when appearing on the red carpet and the attire in airport terminals looks better suited to a track meet than to air travel.
Down Main Street USA, the washed masses streamed: the wannabe Don Drapers, the noir vixens, the lonesome members of barbershop quartets, the old-school gangsters.
Forst had come with her husband, Scott, natty in his pinstripe suit. Her 4-year-old son, Sebastian, rested in her arms, rumpling his dark suit with a matching vest and pocket square.
“I live like this,” Christina Forst, 37, said. “I love hats!”
“People are looking for an excuse to dress up,” said Justin Jorgensen, who started Dapper Day (dapperday.com) in 2011 and has organized five of the events, all at Disneyland.
“Everything, including the workplace, pushes this idea of being casual,” said Jorgensen, 38, of Burbank, Calif. “When do I get to wear my great stuff?”
Most of those in attendance that February day in Disneyland were in their 20s and 30s. They had come of age in a time of shoulder-padded power suits, windbreakers in neon colors and frizzy hair — not exactly a time remembered for its classic elegance.
Scattered throughout the park, the dapper crowd was as much of an attraction as the pair of costumed chipmunks posted near the entrance. Less formally attired guests stopped them to ask why they were so dressed up and even snapped pictures with them.
Quite a few asked for information, so these possible recruits for the fashion insurgency could join next time — Sept. 6 at Disneyland.