Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Monday, September 06, 2004


  The "White Shoes After Labor Day" Dilemma

No White Shoes After Labor Day--Just A Southern Obsession?

(Note: All red lettering denotes a link)

Every few years some oh-so-chic fashionista like, say Donatella Versace, declares the White Shoe rule obsolete in order to sell white shoes in the winter. And who can blame her? NOBODY I know actually owns White Winter Shoes! Winter white, yes. White Winter, NO! So if she could convince all of us that WE were the ones who are out of touch, there would be a huge market for white velvet pumps, white linen mules with suede accents, etc., etc.

However, Tall Poppies know better. If you're dressing for success, you wouldn't show up for a February business function in White Linen and matching white shoes. (Tennis shoes and Bridal pumps are exempt from "the rule"--of course you wouldn't wear them to a business function, either.) Or would you? If you're still not sure what the fuss is all about, here are 9 VERY good reasons why YOU might not want to wear White Shoes After Labor Day.

1) The No White Shoes After Labor Day rule was meant help people raise their marketability. The American upper-class have always had "rules" of behavior, manner and appearance that are subtle, but easily noticed by those who are members of that class which distinguish them from "Johnny (or Jonna)-come-lately's." (By the way, contrary to what a lot of people believe, this is STILL true).

In the early 20th Century, stateside egalitarians attempted with great success to come up with a few basic "rules" that could be easily followed by middle-class Americans looking to better their professional and social positions. The White Shoe rule was meant to remind upwardly-mobile individuals, who were coming out of the depression and might not have ever learned the Old Guard's "rules", which types of clothing were most desirable during which season.

2) When Hollywood filmmakers want to show that a woman is trying to move on up the corporate ladder but doesn't quite have her act together, they put her in a slightly dated business suit and White pumps or strappy sandals. If that's not dramatic enough, they just belittle and beat her, like they did in "Serial Mom". Not good.

3) A Few of the stylish celebrities who won't wear White Shoes in the Winter: Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts, Katie Couric, Star Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Courtney Cox-Arquette and Sela Ward.

4) Etiquette goddesses who agree with the celebrities above: Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt, Letitia Baldridge, The Etiquette Grrls and most others who are paid to give image advice.

5) Men--This rule isn't just for the ladies. The "Queer Eye" Guys may be coming to a town near you. If they spot you on the street in White Shoes after Labor Day, you'll be history!

6) According to this funny and informative thread on White Shoes after Labor Day, this rule is still intact nationwide. So, no, if you want to make a good impression, your area is still not exempt.

7) There are myriad fun colors and fabrics to wear in the winter that won't make you look like a fashion victim. Check out these lilac suede boots! Nothing says winter quite like LILAC!

8) A Southern Belle Primer, or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be A Kappa Kappa Gamma, by Maryln Schwartz reminds readers that even royalty are not exempt from "the rule"--and it's important enough that the publisher put it right on the cover: "The Primer reveals...the disastrous white-shoe-in-September affair during the Texas visit of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York" The book sold over 6 million copies, so a few "outsiders" must have bought into it, too.

9) We cast aside a lot of other rules regarding ladylike behavior that used to be "written in stone", and look where that got us. Today, it's White Shoes in Winter", the next day it's the fall of Western Civilization. We don't want to go there, do we? Of course not!

I say a few rules are worth keeping. Does this one REALLY matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. But as silly as it may seem, it really does make a difference in the way most people "see" you when you break it. I love my white chinese sandals with the little red, gold and green beaded flowers on the toe today. But I will love them just as much next Easter weekend when I pull them out of Winter Storage.

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