Early on in this week’s episode of Vanderpump Rules, the Bravo series that chronicles the lives and loves of the staff at a Los Angeles restaurant, Tom Sandoval stands behind the bar, serving a drink to his boss, Lisa Vanderpump. Lisa can’t drink too much though, because, she says, “I’m going to Stassi’s—what’s it stand for again?” Why, Tom answers, it’s a party for Stassi’s newest brainchild, National OOTD Day: “She bought a holiday,” he says.
Come again? You can buy a holiday? Is this just the millennial version of naming a star? Stassi Schroeder herself appears in a different scene to explain: National OOTD Day—OOTD stands for “outfit of the day,” so technically it’s National Outfit of the Day Day—is “a holiday that I started,” Stassi says. On this day, June 30, celebrants are encouraged to post their #ootd on social media, to celebrate their personal style.
Creating the day “was really hard,” continues Stassi, who the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum once called “a grownup version of the nasty little girl in the Free to Be … You and Me fable ‘Ladies First.’ ” She goes on, “I had to find what this company was that does all these national holidays. And then they were like, ‘You have to get a website.’ So then, once they approved it, I’m a fucking holiday owner. Lisa doesn’t even own a holiday.” (This has since been called into question: Lisa does have a holiday, if you count Beverly Hills’ Lisa Vanderpump Day.)
Despite Stassi’s eloquent summary, questions remain. How exactly do you buy a day? And where? So Slate spoke to Marlo Anderson, the founder of National Day Calendar, the North Dakota–based company that since 2013 has taken it upon itself to regulate a yearly schedule of both traditional and nontraditional holidays. It’s the organization that granted Stassi’s day to her, Anderson said. In fact, he attended Stassi’s party at Pump and can be seen in the episode, though he isn’t identified. There was also a proclamation ceremony that didn’t make the episode, he added.
Anyone who wants a holiday recognized can apply on National Day Calendar’s website, but the odds are against you: Anderson said the company gets 20,000 applications annually and honors just 25 to 30 of them, with an internal committee picking the winners. Anderson, who has recused himself from that process, said, “Generally speaking, it’s something that they think has national relevance, something that a lot of people can participate in. Those are probably a couple of the things that Stassi’s day reflected, because people can obviously put an outfit on and celebrate the day.” The concept of an outfit of the day, Anderson added, “was kind of a thing already.”
Applying for a day is free, but there is a fee to make it official. Anderson declined to disclose the number, but the Wall Street Journal reported in 2016 that it can run up to $4,500. National OOTD Day joins National Cheddar Day (Feb. 13) and National Craft Distillery Day (May 22) as recent additions to the calendar.
What gives National Day Calendar the power to “recognize” holidays? Its endorsement means possible exposure on a slow news day, essentially: Anderson told the WSJ that the company has a roster of more than 20,000 media outlets that it blasts with daily holiday updates, driving potential coverage on the way to social trending.
This Vanderpump Rules episode was filmed in June 2018, on the first official National OOTD Day. “For a first year out, it did really well,” Anderson said, though the holiday did not trend highly on social media, one of the company’s key markers of success. “Usually it takes three years for a national day to start trending in that top-10 space.” Now that National OOTD Day has enjoyed television exposure, though, the next outing could be big.
In the show, Stassi declares triumphantly, “This is the beginning of my own version of a Lisa Vanderpump–esque empire.” This raises the question of whether Anderson ever worries that the calendar will get too commercial, as brands see the holidays as marketing opportunities, and he said he does. “There may be that concern a little bit with this,” he said of National OOTD Day. “This is probably a little bit on the fringe for us because of that possibility.”
Normally, the company doesn’t give holidays to individuals. “We don’t always encourage the individual applications as much because we have a lot of people who get creative with their national days, I’ll put it that way,” Anderson said. “If you go on the page, we actually say that we’re accepting applications only from organizations and companies.”
For Anderson, appearing on reality TV was no big deal. “National Day Calendar is a pretty significant thing,” he said. “We’re the No. 1 trending topic of all time. I don’t mean to sound a little jaded or whatever. We’re in the news every day. Now I feel like if we’re not trending, there’s something wrong with our website.”
Stassi, meanwhile, has already announced that she has bigger goals for her holiday. In the episode, she muses, “One day, it could become a federal holiday, and banks and schools will even close. So you’re welcome.”