I love the new Tide commercial with the sassy black girl and her timely in-your-face attitude about wearing white pants after Labor Day. “I’ll rock white jeans whenever I want to,” she says.
Good for you, I say to her. I wish I had half the self-esteem as that girl. I can’t do it. I can’t wear white from the waist down after Labor Day.
It doesn’t matter that I have at least four reasons why I can and should wear white after Labor Day.
1. That girl in the aforementioned Tide commercial. She looks adorable in those stark white jeans, a blue jean jacket and a scarf around her neck in what is clearly a public park in late September.
2. I live in Florida, where the No White After Labor Day rule is rumored to not apply. “It’s Florida!” people say whenever you recite any fashion rule at all. The Florida Rule states that virtually anything goes, and that includes Speedos and bikinis for old people, Hawaiian shirts to black tie dinners, and flip flops to your own wedding. You know how when you were in high school and you would hear legend of a school that somebody’s cousin went to that didn’t have a dress code at all and it seemed like state-sponsored chaos? Crazy, wonderful but scary chaos? That’s Florida.
3. The invention of Winter White in the early ‘80s. It was ecru, but who’s counting? The point is, people started to wear Winter White wool pants and eggshell shoes (with off-white hose, of course) and it was a pretty good look, as long as you stuck with the theme. You had to wear a cream sweater with some fuzzy stuff on it, and pink nail polish or the whole look was ruined. Stick a black belt on those Winter White pants and you’re just another rule-breaking loser.
4. Because I’m 52-years-old, I don’t give a crap about much of anything along the lines of rules, I’m not looking for a husband, I’m not going to be discovered by a modeling scout even for the “husky older girls” catalogs, and Glamour and Mademoiselle magazines don’t have a “Do’s and Don’ts” column anymore, so I don’t have to be afraid of seeing myself in those pages with a big black bar covering my eyes.
I mean, really, who cares if I commit some age-old fashion faux pas? Will I lose friends? Will I miss out on a job opportunity? Will my garbage men refuse to pick up my haphazardly sorted recycling? Will the Bed Bath & Beyond cashier start enforcing expiration dates on my 20% off coupons? Because, those are pretty much the big ticket items in how my day-to-day life would be affected by wearing the wrong outfit.
So why can’t I do it?
Because of my mom, of course. Don’t act surprised. It’s always the mother’s fault.
My mom lived by that rule and passed it along to me and my sisters, possibly through the umbilical cord or breast milk, because it’s pretty deeply ingrained in me.
Last Tuesday morning, I went into my closet and grabbed my Florida housewife’s uniform – white capri pants, a sleeveless top and white sandals – before I realized that Labor Day had come and gone and I couldn’t do it. My wardrobe for the next eight months instantly shrunk, even though the weather here is still 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit with 200% humidity. I could wear a bathing suit, but the bottoms better be black.
I felt a little pang about not being able to bring out the white belts and white purses, too, and I don’t even own any of them. But just knowing that I couldn’t carry a white purse if I wanted to . . .
My black capri pants are my new uniform now. And that’s OK, because when your mother’s ancient Midwestern rules and regulations are happy, everybody’s happy.