Film Fashion Friday 28. Fred Astaire’s Patriotic Dance Costume in “Holiday Inn” from 1942

Text placeholder (2)

Today is Friday, so it’s time for a Film Fashion Friday article! This is the first article in this series which we are publishing during July, which is #CleanMovieMonth2020. Although we are suspending Breening Thursdays during this month which is dedicated exclusively to American Breen Era (1934-1954) movies, we can still publish these articles. The purpose of this series to study costumes from Code films and recommend similar items on Amazon so that readers can replicate these costumes with modern garments for their own vintage looks!

A March Through Film History: Holiday Inn (1942)

Since tomorrow is the 4th of July, American Independence Day, I am writing about a patriotic film costume. Since my last article in this series was about a lady’s outfit, I decided to write about a patriotic outfit worn by a man. When thinking about a movie which features a certain holiday, Paramount’s Holiday Inn from 1942 is the best place to start. This Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire musical features wonderful scenes and musical numbers for eight major holidays, including Independence Day. Thus, I decided to write about a costume from this scene.

Holiday Inn 4

Bing Crosby and chorus during the Independence Day show in Holiday Inn.

The Holiday Inn, the country nightclub which puts on sensational shows on each holiday of the year, stages an amazing outdoor show for Independence Day. It includes a chorus song, “Let’s Say It with Firecrackers,” a patriotic solo by proprietor Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), a World War II-themed film presentation with background singing, and an amazing tap dance with accompanying firecracker effects by Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire). Even in black and white, you can see that the red, white, and blue are on full display in the costumes, sets, and club motif. However, all the flags are on the backdrop and the tables, not on the entertainers’ costumes. On last 4th of July, I published my first Code Concepts article, titled Respect, Patriotism, and the Flag Code, in which I explained how the United States Flag Code’s ban on American flags being used in costumes was enforced by the Production Code Administration regarding film costumes. Thus, the costume I am describing today is a good example of the sort of patriotic outfit you can wear without accidentally disrespecting the Star Spangled Banner by using it as wardrobe.

Holiday Inn 2

Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn.

There are so many wonderful patriotic costumes on display in this scene that it was hard to choose just one as a topic. However, I decided to write about Fred Astaire’s Americana dance costume because, unlike the costumes worn by Bing Crosby and the male chorus singers, it is not a suit. This casual but stylish outfit is just a white dress shirt with matching slacks and white shoes. This simple style is given patriotic flare through simple blue accessories with white stars. His star-spangled socks, neckerchief, and waist tie give him an understated yet very classy Independence Day look. Let’s consider the different components and see what Amazon has to offer.

Holiday Inn 3

Fred Astaire and Walter Abel.

The first component is the shirt. It is just a plain white dress shirt. The long sleeves are buttoned and don’t appear to have French cuffs, which require cufflinks. The point collar is not button-down. The top couple of buttons are unbuttoned, leaving the collar open for a more casual look which accommodates the neckerchief. The below shirt from Amazon is a good option. It has a regular fit and a point collar. The material is 65% polyester and 35% cotton. It comes in white (pictured) plus twenty other colors, one set of two, and one set of three. It only costs $17.99.

Holiday Inn 5

The other basic piece of this outfit is the white slacks. They don’t look particularly shiny, so they might be linen. They are obviously white, although perhaps not quite as bright a white as the shirt. They are standard slacks with front creases. Fred Astaire always wore his pants a little shorter than most so that his feet could be seen while dancing, but he actually cuffs his pants up a couple of inches before going on to do this dance. In addition to the stylish cuff, this allows us to to see his patriotic socks as well as his intricate footwork. The below pants from Amazon are a good option. They are linen pants with creases. The material is 54% linen and 46% cotton. They come in bright white twill (pictured), natural linen herringbone, natural linen twill, natural linen, and navy. This item costs $38.99.

Holiday Inn 1

 Since this is a dance costume, the shoes receive a lot of attention. They are shiny white slip-on loafers with no embellishment. They are very sleek and smooth. The below shoes from Amazon are the perfect item for recreating this look. They look exactly like Ted’s shoes in this scene. They are unembellished slip-on loafers. The material is synthetic. They come in white (pictured), black, and red. They cost $49.99.

You can also clearly see Ted’s socks in the above picture. They are dark blue with bold white stars. The difficult thing about finding the accessories for this outfit is that few patriotic garments feature just the stars. Most of them also feature the stripes for a complete pattern of Old Glory. However, the below socks from Amazon will most likely work in this case. They feature black with white stars as well as a red and white stripes, but the striped part is just on the foot. Unless you wear open shoes, you shouldn’t see that part. If these patterned socks were worn under the above recommended shoes, I think they would look exactly like the socks in the movie. They are about 18 inches long. The material is 90% cotton and 10% polyester. They come in three patterns, Navy Red A (pictured), B, and C. They com in in sets of 2 (recommended), 4, and 6 with mixed patterns. A set of two only costs $10.99.

Holiday Inn 6

Now we come to the most difficult part of this outfit, the neckerchief and the waist tie. As I mentioned before, it is difficult to find accessories with just the stars pattern of the flag. However, let’s consider exactly what these accessories are. The neckerchief is sort of an ascot tie. It is probably a small scarf which is wrapped around his neck, folded, and tucked into the shirt. The waist tie is a very thin sash wrapped around the top of the pants. It is tied on the left side in a simple knot. Two sides of the sash hang down on each side. Like the neckerchief, it is presumably blue with white stars. Fred Astaire was known to wear neckties as thin belts, so that may be what this sash is. Let’s consider the few options I found, which could be used interchangeably for these two accessories.

Firstly, we have the above scarf from Amazon. It is an infinity scarf, meaning that it is connected in one big loop. It is 31 inches long and 8 inches wide. It is 100% polyester. The pattern is blue with white stars. It costs $9.99. This scarf could be used as either the belt or the neckerchief. To be a belt, it would need only to be cut at the end. If that isn’t long enough to be used as a belt, you could buy two and sew them together. This scarf could also be used as the neckerchief, either looped and tucked into the shirt or cut to a shorter length for less bulk when tucked into the shirt.

Secondly, we have the above necktie from Amazon. It is 57 inches long and 3.5 inches wide. The material is 100% microfiber. The pattern is blue with white stars. It costs $18.95. You might be able to tie this in a loose knot to make it look like an ascot, similar to the loose style Fred has for his tie. However, it would also be a good option as a belt. Since it is 57 inches long, it would be long enough to fit the waist of many men.Thirdly, I suggest the above bandana from Amazon. It is a large square bandana which is 21.7 inches on all sides. It is cotton. It has an American flag pattern. It comes in sets of 3 (recommended), 6, 12, and 18. The set of three costs $9.99. It is unfortunate that this has the pattern of the actual American flag, since that violates the flag Code. However, as seen in the picture above, you can fold this bandana in such a way as to make a neckerchief with just the blue starred part showing, the red part hidden in the back.

That concludes my description of this outfit. To see it at its best, watch it in action during Fred’s sensational dance in the above YouTube clip. With the amazing pyrotechnics, this is probably the greatest Independence Day number ever filmed! It was added during filming after Pearl Harbor to add a wartime theme to the otherwise civilian film. In addition to inspiring patriotism, this dance shows Fred Astaire at the top of his terpsichorean talent.

Happy 4th of July! You may also enjoy listening to Bing Crosby’s Independence Day song, “Song of Freedom,” in the above YouTube video. I hope that you enjoyed my description of this patriotic outfit. It’s too late to buy these things for this year’s celebration, and, unfortunately, there aren’t many options for celebration right now anyway. Nevertheless, it is always a good time to celebrate our country’s independence by displaying your love for your country with this patriotic, dapper outfit. Happy Independence Day 2020!

If you want to observe Mr. Astaire’s style for yourself, I suggest that you purchase this movie and study his outfit firsthand! Click the above image to purchase Holiday Inn on DVD at Amazon and support PEPS through the Amazon Affiliate program.

Remember, take pictures of yourself in vintage style and send them to me to be featured in a future Film Fashion Fridays article! I will gladly republish your pictures, advice, and experiences in vintage clothing for others to see and read. Let’s make Friday a day for film fashion!

Casablanca Fashion

To every Glamour Girl and Dapper Dan, “Here’s looking at you, kid!”

Happy #CleanMovieMonth2020!

My Post

 Click here to join our monthlong celebration of nothing but American Breen Era (1934-1954) movies in honor of the Production Code Administration’s anniversary!

Add a heading (1)

Click here to join our upcoming blogathon about American Breen Era movies adapted from classic literature, the Code Classics Blogathon!

Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!

We are lifting our voices in classical song to help the sun rise on a new day of pure entertainment!

Only the Code can make the sun rise on a new day of pure entertainment!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s