While many of us head to the Canadian National Exhibition for tradition, fun and food, let’s look at how fashion at the CNE has changed over the years.
What were people wearing at the Canadian National Exhibition?
1910s: It was the Edwardian era, so, in the summer, women wore tea dresses made of white/cream lace along with an elaborate hat. Men wore 3-piece suits with ankle cuffs and topped off their attire with a straw Boater hat.
1920s: During the Roaring ’20s, women’s summer wear included a no-waist sheath dress with a sash tied at the hips, T-strap or Mary Jane shoes and a cloche hat. Men’s suit attire was fashioned around the Jazz Age, but this time with softer collars and fabrics.
1930s: The midway bathing beauties graced the shores of Lake Ontario and Toronto pool sides in a garment called Beach Pajamas. The summer leisurewear was very wide palazzo-style pants with an attached sleeveless top featuring bold prints. For men, pants with non-matching sports coats were considered semi-formal attire.
1940s: At The Ex, men looked sharp in an informal summer suit with a white double-breasted dinner jacket, white shirt, black pants and bow tie. Ladies looked sophisticated in dresses with defined waists and calf-length hemlines. Fur coats and vests were fashionable then, and accessories included a hat and high ankle strap shoes.
1950s: Fashion had shifted to a more formal look when it came to going out. Women wore dresses that had soft shoulders and accentuated their waist with a skirt that billowed out. It was essential to match your hat, belt, purse and shoes. Men were still wearing suits but with fedora hats.
1960s: Fashion in the 60’s changed dramatically over the decade. In the early to mid-’60s, women wore Jackie-O style attire with tailored skirts/dresses and jackets with hats. Other fashion included swanky, flowing gowns made of luxury fabric. Men wore slim-fitted pants, button-downs, or polo shirts (the Ivy League Look).
In the middle of the decade, Go-Go boots made their first appearance on the scene. By the end of the decade, fashion was once again transitioning. Clothing like mini skirts with simple mock/turtleneck tops, Windsor glasses and ankle boots were in, as well as over-the-top Flower Power outfits. Britain had a significant influence when it came to men’s fashion in the late ’60s. Outfits were showy with bright colours and bold patterns.
1970s: In the early ’70s, Go-Go boots were still in, along with the short skirts and hippie dresses. T-shirts, short-shorts, bell-bottom jeans and plaid pants were in style for both women and men. There were no rules when it came to ’70s fashion. It was pretty much anything goes, especially when it came to men’s shirts. There were a huge variety of styles, from flashy disco to cowboy and everything in between.