It’s a little known fact that true Texans care passionately about their personal appearance and wardrobe correctness.
Since I was a little girl, I had heard that it was unacceptable to wear white shoes after Labor Day weekend. Never mind that it was blazing hot until mid-October, white shoes were out from the first Monday in September onward.
Frankly, I think white shoes are wrong in any season, unless you’re a bride or a golfer.
Also, velvet can only be worn until Valentine’s Day, though I never have heard when it is acceptable to start wearing it. I’m guessing just after the first frost.
With regard to seasons, the dress code is really pretty easy. If it’s hot outside, dress for summer; if it’s cold outside, dress for winter. The end.
The bigger issue is not with seasonally appropriate attire, but with what can be considered appropriate attire at all.
In Texas and most of the South, what you wear is important. It is part of that first image you create when people meet you. I know all this sounds complicated and, honey, it is, but I’ll try to simplify it.
First, wearing pajamas outside of your home is unacceptable. I hear all the time from people blaming Texans for wearing their PJs to a popular discount retail department store. No self-respecting Texan would do that, so these folks are clearly from someplace else…like another planet. Wearing pajamas in public is not just tacky, it’s weird.
Second, flip-flops are for the swimming pool, beach or shower unless they’re designer sandals and you have a nice pedicure. Men should never wear flip-flops. As a matter of fact, big ol’ man-feet in any kind of sandals are just creepy, particularly if those sandals are worn with socks. Socks with sandals blow the whole point of wearing sandals in the first place.
Third, please comb your hair with a real comb and not with a pencil. I happened to catch this fella calling himself The Miz while watching World Wrestling Entertainment. This gentleman looks like he grooms himself with a gardening trowel and he hops around in skimpy spandex underpants while hollering, “I’M AWESOME!”
His mama must be so very proud.
Of course, The Miz is appropriately attired for his chosen profession: theatrical sports entertainment. It’s not like these wrestling fellas are negotiating world peace or the business deal of the century. I seriously doubt they walk around like that all the time.
Please understand that I come at all this with a slanted view. I belong to the school of thought that one’s handbag, shoes, belt and overcoat should match or complement each other. These items should all be the same shade of whatever basic neutral tone one is wearing. For example, I would never be caught dead walking out the door with a brown purse and black shoes unless the house was on fire.
In Texas, we have to be a little more casual in our warm weather attire, though this was not always the case. There was a time when people wore suit and tie or a dark wool business outfit regardless of the temperature. And they passed out on the pavement in droves. During sorority rush at the University of Texas in Austin in the 1960s, rushees went to parties dressed in dark cotton dresses, pearls, silk hosiery and high heels (back then it was Pappagallo shoes and not Prada that the girls were wearing). It might have been 89 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but you were expected to be very polished in your appearance. And don’t even think about breaking a sweat. Dress shields and girdles were popular back then. I’m guessing y’all don’t know what those are unless you’re over the age of 35 and only because your mother or your grandmother might have worn them.
In the 21st Century, we’ve wised up considerably. I don’t have a clue what the girls are wearing during rush now, but in the 1980s when I went through, we’d relaxed the rules enough that none of us were required to wear hosiery with our dresses, but we still wore our pearls and the color of our shoes matched the color of our hemlines.
Even though we’re more casual with the dress code these days, appearance still counts, especially with Texans. With that in mind, here is the basic dress code that makes sense to a well-heeled Texan:
1. No white shoes after Labor Day; September means earth tones, not spring and summer whites. Beige and taupe are still acceptable.
2. Your purse and your shoes should match in color and level of formality. Remember, leather handbag/leather shoes, velvet handbag/velvet or patent leather shoes, vintage tattoo handbag/leather, metal-studded spike heel boots, etc.
3. If you are wearing a printed item of clothing, make sure your accessories are of solid colors and complement what you are wearing, otherwise you’ll look like a walking Rorschach test. “Clash” does not just refer to a classic British punk rock band.
4. If your nail polish is chipping and peeling, take it off or go get a mani/pedi.
5. If it has sequins or rhinestones on it, save it for a cocktail party.
6. If you sleep in it, don’t wear it out in public.
7. Take your hat off when you go inside a building and when you sit down to eat.
8. If an item of clothing has so many holes in it that it’s holier than a brush arbor revival, throw it out.
9. One’s underwear should not peek out over the top of one’s pants waist. Why hasn’t this fad died yet?
10. Flip-flops are shower shoes. Period.
Other than these ten basic rules, your own personal style rules what you wear. Just make sure it’s in good taste.
Speaking of which, The Miz sort of reminds me of the Kip’s Big Boy mascot (you’d have to be from Dallas back in the 70s to know that one). All he lacks is a big ol’ hamburger on a tray and pair of red checkered coveralls; proof positive that for some, all of our taste is in our mouths.