Pioneer Day: History and fashion

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Amanda Ballard wears a fishtail braid and small floral print blouse to classes. Pioneer girls would wear their long hair in braids and sport long floral dresses as they trudged across the plains. (Natalie Stoker)
Amanda Ballard wears a fishtail braid and small floral print blouse to classes. Pioneer girls would wear their hair in braids and sport long floral dresses as they trudged across the plains. (Natalie Stoker)

Most BYU students look forward to campus-wide holidays. Maybe it’s because they don’t get a fall break, spring break or even a snow day.

Some students celebrate Pioneer Day with fireworks, parades and food; however, it can also be a time to celebrate the fashion the pioneers “inspired.”

Take a glance at any photo from the days of the pioneers, and most of what they wore has made a comeback. Vests, combat boots, floral fabrics, tea-length dresses, suspenders, braids and rolled khaki pants are a few examples.

“I can definitely see the similarities,” said Grant Brannock, an 18-year-old Provo resident. “While I don’t purposely buy clothes hoping they have that pioneer pizzazz, I am a fan of the styles that the pioneers sported.”

However, some would disagree with the “far-fetched” comparison.

Brian Ballard wears a chukka boot and rolled up khakis as he heads to class. Similarly, pioneer men would wear light colored khakis and similar boots as they performed their daily jobs. (Natalie Stoker)
Brian Ballard wears chukka boots and rolled-up khakis as he heads to class. Similarly, pioneer men would wear light-colored khakis and similar boots as they performed their daily jobs. (Natalie Stoker)

“I don’t think the pioneers inspire the fashions I wear today, although I love seeing the way the fashions change over time,” said Katie Morley, a 21-year-old Utah Valley photographer. “It amazes me to look at what the pioneers used to wear compared to what we wear now. There are definitely similarities.”

Pioneer Day commemorates the arrival of Brigham Young and the first group of pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. It is celebrated by the entire state of Utah, including those who aren’t LDS or from a pioneer lineage.

“This is the place” is a famous quote from Brigham Young as he decided that the Salt Lake Valley would be where the pioneers would settle.

“I am excited to get a day off of work and spend the time in Park City with my family,” said Shauna Holdaway, a 21-year-old communications major from Pleasant Grove. “I am thankful to the pioneers for giving me an excuse to party!”

While some Utahns understand the purpose of Pioneer Day, what about out-of-state students?

“Pioneer Day was invented by youth leaders to punish kids by making them dress up in scratchy clothes then go out in 100-degree weather pushing wooden carts in big circles,” said Jeff Baker, a 22-year-old business major from Dallas.

 

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