The History of the Santa Suit
Every year throughout my childhood, I waited patiently for Christmas to arrive. Although my interest was largely around getting presents, my excitement while anticipating Santa’s visit was extreme. Today, Santa is an unmistakable figure who sports his iconic ensemble of a red robe and white fur trim. Until now, I had always accepted this image of Santa, and never questioned the origins of the Santa suit.
The origin of the figure of Santa itself can be traced back to Saint Nick, a Greek bishop-turned-saint in Turkey who
wore a traditional bishop’s robe, most likely attributing Santa his red robe. St. Nicholas Day was held on December 6th to commemorate the Saint, and continued to be popular throughout Europe, even surviving the Protestant reform (despite the observance of Saints being condemned), being called “Father Christmas” by the celebrating protestants. In 1810, John Pintard, the newly elected first secretary of the New York Historical Society, held an annual Saint Nicholas Dinner on December 6th, paying homage to the city’s Dutch roots, and bringing the tradition to North America. New York City’s Dutch roots were further popularized and celebrated by Washington Irving, the author who published a satirical piece describing the city’s Dutch roots, which included an illustration of Saint Nicholas on the bow of a ship, wearing a brimmed hat, hose, and carrying a pipe. Both depictions of Saint Nick evolved closer and closer towards the version that we accept today, but were still very different.
A very close match to the Santa we know today was depicted in the 1823 poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, written by Clement Clarke Moore, describing the figure as “dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,” (33), and with “cheeks  like roses, his nose like a cherry;/ His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow/ And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;” (38-40). The only quality of Santa described in the poem that differs from today’s modern version was his size, written as miniature and pint-sized. It was not until 1863 that Thomas Nast was the first to create an illustration of Santa identical to today’s version.
Thomas Nast, an American cartoonist known best for his political illustrations, sent drawings of Santa Claus inspired heavily by Moore’s poem to Harper’s Weekly, but designed him as short and fat rather than miniature. Fred Mizen’s similar illustrations of Santa for Coca Cola diffused the image of Santa and his fur ensemble throughout the world, giving his suit its red and white colours (the colours of the soda brand), and establishing the figure that would go on to become an integral part of so many childhoods, centuries later, continuing to celebrate the legacy of Saint Nicholas.
Causing any outfit to emulate a Disney princess, puffed sleeves are appearing on dresses and shirts, in many different forms and colours. The rise in popularity of the style of sleeve is granting my kindergarten-self’s wishes, and is the perfect accent to make any dress or top stand out or appear more feminine.
Far evolved from its warrior-clan origins, plaid is the biggest pattern to be popularized in recent years, found easily in almost every clothing store and closet. Any piece of clothing can be stylish in plaid, and I suggest styling an outfit with matching plaid (for example, a scrunchie and trousers both with an identical plaid pattern).
The sheer and voluminous fabric of tulle is becoming increasingly versatile, extending its reach beyond the ballet studio and entering runways and closets everywhere. Adding an elegant air to any situation, tulle has endless possibilities, and I suggest being as creative as you can.
This Season’s Accessories:
Jewellery/Hat → Headbands
Synonymous with Blair Waldorf, Jackie Kennedy, and Alice from Alice in Wonderland, headbands are a timeless piece popularizing themselves in many points throughout history. Giving any outfit a classic aura, headbands are a trend that can be worn very minimally (for example, a small barely noticeable black headband), or can be the most eye-catching item of an outfit (for example, a thick neon pink headband).
Bag → Cozy Bag
When comfort and style converge, the product is never one to be overlooked. Cozy bags are this winter’s bag, and are soft on both the eyes and the touch, seeming to render all other bags inferior.
Shoe → Biker Boots
Similar to a combat boot, a biker boot is a black boot that’s characterizing feature are its buckles, zippers, and other metal accents. A biker boot can be the perfect contrast in a more feminine outfit, or can be combined with any complementary dark outfit to add even more of an edge.
With Christmas around the corner, cherry red is everywhere, and draws more attention to itself than any other colour. The blue toned variation of red is my personal favourite shade of red, and brings the holiday spirit to any outfit.
Emerged from the jewel tones mentioned in the Autumn article, royal blue has become a trend of its own. I suggest wearing royal blue in the place of black or navy, to bring more energy to a once regular outfit.
Work Used or Consulted:
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Thomas Nast.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Nov. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Thomas-Nast.
Moss, Stephen. “Why Is Santa Red? You Asked Google – Here's the Answer | Stephen Moss.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 20 Dec. 2017, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/20/why-is-santa-red-google.
“The True History of the Modern Day Santa Claus.” The Coca-Cola Company, 1 Jan. 2012, www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coke-lore-santa-claus.