Put on your Sunday’s best. Boomers know what that means, but that phrase is used less and less in modern terminology. For many, Sunday is just another day in the week and for those who may happen to visit a house of worship, they wear, well, whatever they feel like, definitely not Sunday’s best. You’ll see far more pairs of blue jeans than neckties among the pews. Dressing up is no longer important.
Boomer kids recall that Easter was a big deal, and not just for nibbling the ears off the chocolate bunny and dying and hiding Easter eggs. Easter meant a new wardrobe to wear to church, your Sunday’s best. Since Easter falls on various dates each spring, depending on when ol’ Vernon the Equinox picks the day, kids sometimes wore their Sunday’s best in late April and sometimes in early March. I recall one Easter morning, it snowed a foot and yet I was dressed in a white linen suit with white buckskin shoes. But no matter the weather, for young men it would be a spring or summer suit or coat with a spiffy new tie – sometimes a clip-on. For the girls, it was a dress in a soft pastel color and usually with a stiff (and itchy) crinoline to make the outfit flare.
The grown-ups wore their finest as well, and the ladies took the occasion of Easter as a time for a new hat, a necessity not a luxury. An Easter bonnet, if you will, a phrase made famous by Irving Berlin in The Easter Parade.
In your Easter bonnet
With all the frills upon it
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.
Boomers recall that ladies always wore hats to church, gloves, too. Men wore felt hats to and from church, but always took them off before they went inside. It was a matter of respect, respect for that day of the week and that place of worship.
Putting on your Sunday’s best was also required in the fall. During the Back to School shopping spree, certain clothes were chosen and designated for Sunday’s only, though they were usually not as dressy as the Easter duds. Sometimes a necktie with a dress shirt and sweater became Sunday’s best for a young man, but never pants with grass stains, and never, ever tennis shoes. The youngsters of that era wore saddle shoes, white and dirty buckskin shoes, flats, dressy loafers and the like. Tennis shoes were reserved for school and playwear.
With the Baby Boom in full blossom, demand for children’s clothes began to soar. Clothes for the youngsters were made of higher quality and a demand for stylish colors and silhouettes also increased. Many girls’ dresses were styled smartly after those of the older generation.
In 1969, Michael Crawford sang these immortal words in the musical, Hello Dolly: “Put on your Sunday clothes. There’s lots of world out there. For there’s no blue Monday in your Sunday. No Monday in your Sunday. No Monday in your Sunday clothes”
For Boomers, those words ring as true today as they did in the 1950’s and 60’s. Put on your Sunday’s best when the situation demands because there really is “lots of world out there.”