Fashion police summer tips

Published 9:29 am Friday, June 12, 2015

Depending on where you live and your age, you may not have even heard of white clothing rules.

Typically, women who grew up either in the southern part of the United States or were born before the 1980s are more familiar with this particular fashion etiquette. You’ll probably get different answers to questions about rules for wearing white, so keep the age and background of women in mind if you’re curious.

White clothing was only “allowed” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Fortunately, there are no real fashion police who can arrest you for breaking fashion laws, so if you want to wear white clothing from January through December, the choice is yours.

Maybe you grew up hearing the rules for wearing white and you’re a stickler for them. Or you may have heard these rules and decided to wear what you want, when you want, anyway.

Traditionalist or fashion rebel — when it comes to white clothing, the choice is yours.

For some people, white shoes on Easter are an annual tradition. The color of the outfit doesn’t matter, although it will probably be some shade of pastel or other light hue. Regardless of the color of the dress or suit, for traditionalists, the shoes sported on Easter Sunday are always white.

Growing up, most of us had two pairs of shoes. One pair for everyday and one pair for Sundays and holidays. Since Easter Sunday is such an important day of celebration in many Christian denominations, this is one day when children and adults dressed up for church services. Little girls often sported fancy, ruffled socks atop their white Mary Janes. Women can finally pull out their white pumps, slingbacks or sandals. The white helps to symbolize the whole theme of rebirth that fits into the day.

Even if you’re not a traditionalist, you can still enjoy wearing your bright, white shoes on Easter. To make the best impression, consider these tips and general rules from the 1980s book of etiquette. Fashion advice before flip-flops:

• Light hose or socks: Wear nude or white panty hose or trouser socks with your white shoes. Dark hose with white shoes is a no-no. Barefoot is also a no-no.

• Light outfit: White shoes on Easter always look best with an outfit in a color that doesn’t overpower them.  Whatever shade you choose, leave black, burgundy and deep violet at home; choose white, lemon yellow, robin’s egg blue or other spring-appropriate colors instead.

• Clean them up: Your shoes don’t have to be brand new, but they should look it. White shoes are notoriously difficult to keep sparkling, so clean off any scuffmarks or obvious dirt before Easter rolls around.

•  Whether or not white shoes have always been part of your Easter ensemble, you can take full advantage of this special day by adding a beautiful, wide-brimmed hat, white purse and gloves to your outfit. Look for the most ruffled ankle socks you can find for the little girl in your life and don’t forget to outfit a young boy in a smart suit or sport coat. Your entire family can be ready for this special day from your heads to your feet — in white shoes, of course.

• Wear off-white in cool weather: If you just love white and the way it complements your complexion, but you’re still afraid to wear it during the winter, choose off-white, cream and beige clothing instead. Even die-hard fashion traditionalists usually OK winter white.

• Warmer climates usually have more leeway: If you live in a tropical environment, white clothing probably seems necessary, even in winter, especially if your days are full of 80 degree weather.

• Wear the right shoes: Heavy black pumps paired with lightweight white dresses can be an odd combination. If you wear a white dress in the spring or summer, better options include natural toned or white sandals. If you choose to wear white in fall and winter, brown shoes still look better than black (and for sticklers to the rules, white shoes should be avoided after Labor Day).

All of this advice doesn’t take into consideration that your everyday shoes and Sunday shoes are the same and they may be white tennis shoes or black or red.

I’ll be watching your feet until Labor Day. Remember no white after Labor Daytime for fall shoes.


Jo-Ann Boepple works at the Edwardsburg Area History Museum.