I've got another fun #anthropologyofstyle post for you today! So..yesterday our family took a trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom. A couple of weeks ago while planning, I was thinking about what I would wear on this expedition.. and I settled on a "simple safari" look.. not the most original...but hey- when in Rome right?!? Usually when I'm planning an outfit I start with a basic concept in my head and then I go on Pinterest and see how others have styled similar outfits and see if I get any inspiration. While on Pinterest I found myself traveling down a rabbit hole of safari outfits.. I'm sure you've been on rabbit hole Pinterest adventure yourself! Anyway... down the rabbit hole I came across some black and white photos of adventurous Victorians on safari and it got me thinking..... there's a story here!
Me and the boys at Animal Kingdom checking out the Discovery River.... which is the Disney version of the Ganges in the Asia area of the park. I'm wearing a plain white long sleeve t from Target, a chambray denim shirt, and skinny cargo pants in olive.
Here's the safari style synopsis. Safaris (as in African adventures in the bush) date to the Victorian Era (late 1800's). At that time wealthy Europeans made it fashionable to travel to Africa to hunt big game and observe African animals in their habitat. The clothes they wore wear based a little bit on English Army uniforms worn in India and utilitarianism. The colors tended to blend in with the surroundings and there were lots of pockets for bullets, supplies, etc. Helmets to protect the head and sturdy boots were also must haves. Ladies wore skirts (A Victorian lady in pants.. gasp!.. no pants for ladies until post WWI), helmets as well, and scarves to protect their skin.
Safaris were (and still are) a status symbol. Only the very wealthy can afford this type of trip. Unless you're a 1%er.. the only safari you'll probably ever go on is a virtual one.. or the safari at Animal Kingdom (like me!). The wearing of safari gear while not actually on safari originated as a way to express one's wealth and adventuresome nature....enter Ernest Hemingway.
Apparently Hemingway has a lot to do with Safari wear going mainstream, as well as YSL, and a German model from the 60's called Veruschka (really interesting lady.... German countess and daughter of a Nazi resistance fighter) Hemingway wore safari jackets in the 30's and 40's and popularized them among Hollywood leading men. In the 70's YSL designed a safari jacket for his collection and it girl- Veruschka wore it in Vogue. At the time it became a legendary picture and you can find it easily on google (or just click the link above). Safari suits (jackets with matching pants) were huge in the 70's.
In the 80's there were a lot of "safari-ish" movies- like Indiana Jones- out and the look stuck around. If you are in your 30's or 40's you probably remember that Banana Republic was safari themed back then. Perhaps you had a collection of Banana Republic safari t-shirts? My older sister did and we always visited the store at Phipps Plaza on our annual Atlanta shopping trip!
Me and baby T (he's so sleepy) in front of a cool gazebo in Animal Kingdom. On me: Target-A New Day Chino Pants in Moss. I'm 5'5" and they were a little long so I cuffed them. I would've gone down a size, but they were sold out, and I really wanted the pants. I love the cut, color, the fabric is very soft, and they are comfortable.
I think today's modern safari look constitutes a more simple and scaled version of the 19th and 20th century look, which I'd call "simple safari". No pith helmets and boxy safari jackets here. Just skinny cargo pants (clean lines and minimal pockets) in lovely olive shades, white t-shirts, and ray-bans. I think safari should make a statement, but not make you look like you are wearing a costume.
Another shot of me and the boys and the Disney "Ganges"
Which brings me to my last pic... my family with Mickey and Minnie in their matching safari costumes. Love them and love their look!
Our Au Pair Stefanie got to meet Mickey and Minnie for the first time. Plus it was her first visit to Animal Kingdom! Minnie's look is definitely 19th century safari at its finest.