Made in America
The month of July is the perfect time to show your patriotic pride with style. Wearing the colors, or an interpretation of our flag, can express patriotism and love of country.
The flag code, written in 1942, determined that as long as the article of clothing is not made from an actual flag, there is no breach of flag etiquette. The first official American flag, made with thirteen stars and thirteen stripes to represent our thirteen original colonies, debuted in 1777. Our current flag has only been around since July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became our country’s fiftieth state.
Our flag and its colors are an enduring statement in the world of fashion. In 1989, Ralph Lauren designed what became an iconic sweater featuring our flag positioned over the heart. His loyalty to our country’s flag led him to donate over $10 million to help preserve the aging flag known as the Star-Spangled Banner. This is the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem. It was made in 1813 during the War of 1812, and was originally 42 by 30 feet. Each star is approximately two feet in diameter.
Each stripe is approximately 24 inches wide. The flag was sewn with 15 stars and 15 stripes to represent the original colonies, plus two added states (Vermont and Kentucky). Created by professional flag-maker Mary Pickersgill, the Star-Spangled Banner now hangs in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. In 1818, a new Flag Act reduced the number of stripes back to thirteen, and determined that only stars would be added to represent the addition of states.
One of the most iconic “flag dresses” comes from French designer Catherine Malandrino. Her dress was inspired by the Americana fashion in the film Easy Rider (2001). The long-sleeved, chiffon, shirtdress has many overlays creating interesting lines of red, white, and blue.
Flag fashion can be found as a literal design, or as a figurative symbol. When wearing a garment with the entire flag displayed, it’s best to consider the visual weight of the flag and limit this accent to one piece. For example, a flag embellished on a t-shirt will look fashionable when worn with a pair of bluejeans or a denim skirt. However, wearing this same t-shirt with red and white striped pants may take the look over-the-top and distract from the patriotic message you are trying to convey. Knowing when to say “enough is enough” will keep you from looking like a star-spangled spectacle.
The easiest way to create a patriotic look is with clothes you already own. Denim is considered to be an American fabric and most of us already have some form of denim clothing in our closet. Use this piece as the blue, add a white top, a red belt, and you are ready to watch the fireworks.
Flowing, floral sundresses are trendy again this summer. Find one in a mix of red, white, and blue. Add a pair of red sandals, a white wide-brimmed hat, and you are ready for a picnic. White skinny jeans, a red peasant blouse, and a cute, blue baseball cap will make you the hit of the ballgame. A blue skort, a red and white striped boatneck top, and a pair of white Keds is perfect for a stroll through the park.
Plaid shirts and shirtdresses, in red, white, and blue are another stylish way to wear the colors of our flag. This classic pattern is both sporty and flattering. Mixing patterns of stripes with polka-dot stars is a whimsical and fun way to express your flag-waving spirit.
For a dressier patriotic look, choose a solid color dress in one of our flag colors, and then complete the color theme with accessories. Imagine the attractive look of a red dress, a blue and white floral purse, and nude shoes. Or a white dress accented with a blue belt and red clutch. Another simple, yet chic way to show your American pride is to wear black pants and a red top with a red, white, and blue scarf.
There is no other place in the world where individuals are free to express their opinions no matter what they are. So, regardless of your political party, celebrate our great nation by wearing our flag colors proudly and respectfully.