Old Time

For traditional North-American music, see Old-time music. For the play by Harold Pinter, see Old Times.
The Dapper Dans, a barbershop quartet at Walt Disney World, present Old Timeyness to park guests.

"Old time" and "old timey" are terms used to describe stereotyped images and representations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the USA, generally not more than a generation before or after the start of the 20th century. The term "old timeyness" is used more rarely. All these terms may also be used in a more general sense, in which case, they are synonymous with "old fashioned" or "antique".


Old timeyness is sometimes considered campy and put forth as a sort of "ultra-corniness". At other rare times, it is used to invoke an era of integrity and quality that stands in opposition to inferior "newfangled" ways of doing things.


While they refer to the same era, "old time" has a different connotation than the term fin de siècle (end of century). The latter evokes images of sophistication to the point of decadence, a connotation opposite to that suggested by "old timeyness".

Old timeyness overlaps somewhat with aspects of popular culture intended to evoke Victoriana or the Old West. Often, however, the three are distinguishable.

Evocations of Victoriana (and Edwardiana) typically highlight class differences, featuring (for example) aristocrats and gentry who are dandified or eccentric, in contrast to working class and poor folk who are Dickensian or exaggeratedly rustic in their costume and manner.

Old West themes differ from old timey themes in that they emphasize elements such as cowboys, firearms, horses, and drawled speech. However, aspects of Old West city or town life can overlap with old timeyness.


The archetypical old timey costume (as seen in the Disney World illustration above) includes vertically-striped fabric, boaters, a vest, and sleeve garters of the type worn in the later half of the 19th century and still sometimes worn by poker dealers today.[1]

This clothing, often accessorized by a handlebar mustache and/or a certain style of dainty cane of bamboo or rattan with a curved handle, appears with some frequency in pop culture, especially in the cartoons and advertising mentioned below.

Clothing with upper class associations, such as top hats, monocles and (to a lesser extent) spats, while entirely appropriate to the time period represented by old timeyness, are mostly excluded from the old timeyness discussed here. This highlights the distinction between the folksy associations of old timeyness and the sophisticated associations of fin de siècle.


Old timey references include the following:






See also


  1. Gentleman's emporium, "sleeve garter"
  2. Homer's Barbershop Quartet at TheSimpsons.com] Homer's Barbershop Quartet
  3. "Old Timey baseball sketch" Note that although the footage is of an American Civil War-era baseball game, O'Brian adopts his standard "Old Timey" persona. It can be further noted that O'Brien's Old Timey start of the 20th century personal sometimes blends with his 1930s persona, especially in regards to ending many sentences with the phrase "ya see?"
  4. Quote: "Old Time America of the Music Man"
  5. Antique ads
  6. Old Timey aesthetics
  7. Wendy's First Restaurant
  8. A&W cream soda
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