A Dapper Disney Day

by Lisa Stiglic, contributing writer

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, dapper means "trim, neat of appearance; stylish," and "alert and lively in movement and manners." The dapper style also represents a bygone era full of elegance, social etiquette, and little bit of moxie thrown in.

Started in 2011, Dapper Day has grown from a small gathering celebrating this very definition of refined style into a phenomenon where retro lovers come together to showcase the dapper life. Social gatherings occur throughout the year, and may include get-togethers at local museums, surprise pop-up events, and the biggest stage of all—the Disney Parks. Devoted fans of the Dapper Day movement gather twice a year in spring and fall near the Disneyland Resort, and near Walt Disney World, and may even transport themselves to Disneyland Paris for an annual outing.

By chance, you may have visited Disneyland Resort on a random fall or spring weekend and noticed many guests dressed in stylish vintage clothes, or sporting a retro look. Welcome to Dapper Day Disney-style.

The Expo

This fall's Dapper Day weekend was a two-day event during the first weekend in November. It consisted of the Dapper Day Expo, which was held adjacent to the Disney Parks in the conference rooms of the Disneyland Hotel, along with outings in both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Parks. Since I've been curious about what makes Dapper Day so... well, dapper... I thought it was perfect timing to peek into this Americana showcase for a trip back to a more stylish period. For a minimal cost of $10 (tickets were available prior to the event and at the door), I received a button and lanyard, and entrance into the showroom. This almost 30-thousand-square-foot location was filled with all things vintage from saddle shoes, bouffant hairstyles, a big band dance stage, and the showcase spotlight—a convertible made for cruising.

This 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz is a timeless piece of both elegance and coolness. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Plenty of vendors made the transition seamless for those wanting to dress the dapper part.

Rockin' Bettie vintage shop offered these styling dresses and accessories. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

And, if you wanted to get the trimmings from head to toe, make-up and hairstyling sessions were part of the retro package.

Suavecito Hairstream mobile hair grooming set-up shop for a shave and a haircut. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Each day, the expo schedule included a book signing; this particular weekend the featured guests were Dita Von Teese, a well-known performer and actress, and Charles Phoenix, Americana specialist extraordinaire. Familiar big-band performers Jennifer Keith Quintent and Lizzy and the Triggermen played sets throughout each day. And, for those newbies who needed to brush up on their foxtrot, Atomic Ballroom offered up complimentary dance lessons before each performance. Workshops throughout each day covered topics such as vintage menswear, period hairstyling, and even home decor.

Park Hopping

The highlight of the Dapper Day weekend of course is the costumes and vintage wear. I'm always amazed at how much detail and dedication go into any type of cosplay (costume roleplay) and Dapper Day at Disney is no exception.

Tarzan's friend Jane and her companions display their beautiful throwback costumes but still enjoy the benefits of today's technology. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Since Dapper Day is not officially associated with the Walt Disney Company, there was not a specific set schedule for events occuring in either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Parks. However, thanks to social media, attendees met up for photo ops, exchanges, and just to admire other Dapper Day costumes. Several took advantage of the essence of Main Street in Disneyland—a tribute in itself to a time Walt Disney spent as a child in Marceline, Missouri.

Main Street vehicles transport Dapper Day attendees along Main Street. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

With camera in hand, I leisurely walked Disneyland Park in search of visitors dressed in their finest styles. From pencil skirts to poodle skirts, and from suspenders to zoot suits, bygone styles where everywhere.

Some Dapper Day guests dressed in more casual attire including suspenders and knickers. Photo by Lisa Stiglic


Other attendees opted for a more refined, elegant look. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Even Disneyland entertainment got into the swing of things.

Main Street's Straw Hatters blended right in with the Dapper Day theme. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


Although the Merriam-Webster dictionary does not have a definition for Disneybounding, you have definitely seen it upon visiting any of the Disney Parks. Disneybounding is simply using a Disney character's style and color palette and incorporating it into your own attire or look. For example, pair a black t-shirt with red shorts, and accessorize with yellow sneakers and voila—Mickey Mouse! Dapper Day Disney was bounding with Disney influence.

Lynlee Beckett and her daughter Anabelle Beckett channeled their inner Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet at Dapper Day. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

And the themes were not just Disney characters; Pixar fans showed up to support their favorite stars.

Robert Mayeda and Lani Dela Torre Disneybounded as Marlin and Dori while Jasmine Dela Torre and Jim Tran represented Woody and Buzz. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Not to be outdone, a very creative group of Disneyland devotees paid homage to one of the park's most popular attractions. My guess is they were headed to enjoy some Dole Whip.

Starring in the Tiki Room from left to right: Special guest Walt Disney World's Orange Bird (Sierra Barletta), Gigi (Meredith Placko), Barker Bird (Jesse Thaxton), Fritz (Tally Smith), Pierre (Kit Chester), Michael (Mac Beauvais), and Jose (Megan Porch). Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Calendar of Events

Disney Dapper Day is one of several "non-Disney" events you may encounter throughout the year at the Disneyland Resort. I'm reminded of the day I was walking Main Street and thought I had gone to the wrong theme park as I was suddenly transported to Hogwarts. Besides Harry Potter meet-ups, I've also encountered Dr. Who, and Goth Days to name a few, but there are others. Disney Dapper Day at the Disneyland Resort remains the most popular, at least for now.

Next up on the calendar is the 2018 spring meet-up, scheduled for the weekend of April 21 and 22, with the Walt Disney World Dapper Day event the following weekend. For more information about Dapper Day in general, visit their home page at www.dapperday.com.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "later" as "subsequently, or afterward," but thanks to a 1950s song by Bill Haley and the Comets, "later" became a term used for goodbye. So, in the spirit of Disney Dapper Day, later!