I grew up in West Texas where you couldn’t don white shoes until Easter and had to give them up the Monday after Labor Day. In this part of the state, the rule flew in the face of hot weather that could set in as early as March and sometimes would stick around until Halloween. But a dress code was sacred—a binding covenant with the fashion gods that one didn’t pitch aside lightly. Who knows what closet devastation would have set in by wearing a pair of white pumps on Palm Sunday? Would your white shoes be turned into a pillar of salt or maybe burned to a crisp by fire and brimstone? No one I knew tried it, so we never experienced the retribution.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 1987, I could hardly bear to look at a woman wearing white sandals in December. Apostasy! Seems that the warnings I’d received about Californians by my Texas friends were valid. These folks were cut from different cloth from the rest of us and sinned without shame. Just where were the fashion police when you needed them?
By 1988, I’d forgotten my roots and joined the pagans. And when I fell, I slid all the way down the slippery slope of my grandmothers’ worst fashion nightmares. I not only wore white shoes all year, but I also stepped out in white skirts, tops, dresses and slacks. The old rules be damned! I was living it up in LA LA Land.
Sometime during my 25+ years of year-round white decadence in SoCal the rest of the country got on board with the trend of white before Easter. I’d always known that California led the way when it came to interpreting fashion scriptures, so I wasn’t too surprised to see white shoes being shown all year long at Neiman Marcus, the citadel of Texas haute couture.
Over the years I never gave the old rule another thought until a couple of years ago after I moved back to West Texas. Forgetting that I’d returned to the heartland of bible-belt fashion rules, I was a little nonplussed to overhear a conversation between two women who were looking forward to bringing out their white shoes for Easter. In this area, the old words die hard.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter what we wear when, unless it matters. Given the obtuseness of this rule of thumb, my opinion is: wear what makes sense to you because the fashion gods have a whole lot more important things to do than check the color of our shoes.