It seems that everywhere I look, there are patriotic items for sale. Department stores, discount stores, and even drug stores are filled with rows of red, white, and blue products. I’ve seen red and white striped dresses, star-spangled jeans, flag-motif sweaters, scarves, swim suits, hats, and hand-bags. Patriotic items grace the pages of catalogs with clothing, Uncle Sam figurines, American flag wind-chimes, kitchen accessories, and firework-patterned throws. I’ve found pretty charm bracelets, necklaces, and even shoes, all with a Patriotic American theme. Fabric stores—my favorite place to shop—have huge selections of fabric adorned with stars, stripes, and flag motifs. I love this movement where people express their patriotism by decorating and wearing the colors of our flag.
The patriotic trend has actually gone in and out of fashion for many years. “Sweetheart jewelry” became very popular during World War I. Wives, mothers, and sweethearts proudly wore patriotic-themed pins close to their heart as a way to remember and feel connected to their loved ones who were fighting overseas. The trend continued into World War II. The pieces were produced in patriotic symbols such as the American Flag and the American Eagle. Many represented the military branch of the loved one who was serving, such as an anchor shape for the Navy and a plane or star for the Air Force. The slogan, “Remember Pearl Harbor,” was found on many pins and often embellished with a pearl. Service Flags with a Blue or Gold Star—representing members of the family who were serving our country, or who had died—were hung in the front windows of military families for all to see. These pins and flags were a symbol of support, national loyalty, and love.
During World War I and II, patriotic dressing also meant adopting a very simple style. The pre-war fripperies of fashion were considered to be in bad taste while so many men were overseas sacrificing and fighting for our freedom. In 1915, posters created by the National War Savings Committee informed women, “To dress extravagantly in war time is worse than bad form; it is unpatriotic.”
After a lackadaisical attitude during the 1960s, Americans were encouraged to renew their sense of patriotism and exercise their right to vote. Red, white, and blue clothing became popular during the mid 1970s. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, American flag fashion resurged as a signal of unity.
Patriotic style is now back in fashion and is evident on news broadcasts. Robin Roberts of ABC and Martha MacCallum of FOX recently wore patriotic-themed dresses on their shows. Robin’s full-skirted striped dress had an interesting diagonal line across the bodice. The stripes on the bodice of Martha’s red, white, and blue dress were horizontal. They were turned vertically for the skirt. Both dresses were attractive and on point.
Kellyanne Conway, the first woman ever to run a successful presidential campaign, unabashedly showed her patriotism by wearing a red, white, and blue coat to the inauguration ceremony. President Trump’s daughter Ivanka chose a beautiful creamy white, asymmetrical jacket paired with trousers. Her daughter, Arabella, wore a red coat adorned with a big bow, while son Joseph wore a deep blue overcoat. The three holding hands as they walked together was just as sweet as it was patriotic. First Lady Melania Trump expressed her spirit at the Inaugural Ball by wearing a white column dress. A thin red silk ribbon accentuated her waist. The colors of our flag were complete as she and the President danced in front of a blue backdrop.
It’s been many years since I dressed my young children in matching red, white, and blue outfits for the Fourth of July, but I remember those precious days with fondness. It’s only been since 2000 that the color red has been associated with Republicans and blue with Democrats. There was no preconceived intention in this color-coding matter. The simple fact that Republican begins with the letter “R” was the rationale behind the decision. The colors of our flag unite us.
We can express our tribute, dignity, and confidence when we wear red, white, and blue. We also share the connection and sentiment of women who wore “sweetheart jewelry” in honor of their loved ones so many years ago.
It doesn’t matter if you are “blue” or “red,” a protester or supporter, a hater or a lover; this is our country. As we go on picnics, watch parades, gaze at fireworks, and breathe in the free air of our land, take time to remember, appreciate, honor, and respect the men and women who have sacrificed and died so that you can say anything you want, and live the free life we are so privileged to live.
As an American Woman and Military Mom, I’m proud to stand up and say, I love this country and God Bless America.
Style expert, JeanAnn Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org