An Issue Of Critical Regional Importance

From time to time I get emails from people who want to know what’s so distinctive about the Southern region of the U.S. I’m always surprised by how difficult it is for me to articulate all the traditions and eccentricities that make this part of the world so special; the way of life down here is such an inextricable part of who I am that it’s nearly impossible for me to analyze it.

And on the odd occasion when I do try to capture the uniqueness of the South with words, I’m always reminded of Scout Finch‘s explanation of her fondness for books: “…I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” That’s exactly how I feel about this place, this part of the country that has always been my home.

Being Southern may not be genetic, but it’s most definitely in my blood.

And that is why, when I received the following email yesterday, I was utterly delighted – all the way down to my painted-with-bashful-pink-polish toes:


My dear friend from south Georgia informs me it is inappropriate to wear open toed shoes after Labor Day. What?? Of course I won’t wear white, but open toed too? It’s too hot in TX for that. She also won’t wear open toes until after Easter. She got the evil eye from her mama for doing that very thing this year. So what do you think?? I LOVE for my painted toes to show, and I’d wear open toed shoes all year round if I could!!


Y’all, I clapped my hands when I read Jen’s email.

Why? Because I know how much Southern women talk about this very issue.

And because we love us some old-fashioned etiquette in our neck of the woods.

For example.

We love saying (and hearing) yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, and no sir.

We love to have the door opened for us and don’t think for one second that it’s patronizing. It’s kind.

We love to take the good china out of the cabinet and use it year-round.

We love fresh flowers when company’s coming, handwritten thank-you notes on monogrammed notecards, and baking a pound cake for your neighbor’s second cousin’s daughter whose dog just died.

And last but not least, we love appropriate seasonal attire.

In fact, when I was growing up in Mississippi, there were several hard and fast Southern Fashion Guidelines:

  • always wear hose to church
  • red shoes are for harlots and children
  • pearls in the daytime, diamonds at night (with the exception of wedding rings, of course)
  • no hats after the sun goes down
  • no white below the belt before Easter or after Labor Day
  • no linen clothes before Easter or after Labor Day
  • no sandals before Easter or after Labor Day
  • So you can see Jen’s dilemma.

    Now there’s no doubt that the rules have relaxed considerably – in the last ten or fifteen years, especially. I personally haven’t worn hose to church or otherwise since 1998 (with the exception of black tights in the winter), and if all goes as planned I’ll never wear them again. Also, red shoes are fun and funky regardless of age or, um, harlot status, and as far as diamonds go, wear ’em if you’ve got ’em. By all means. Whenever you want.

    However, the hat rule still stands, y’all. It stands forever, and it stands proud. Because why in the sam hill do you need a hat in the dark? To protect your face from the glare of the moon?

    But as far as the last three rules – the pre-Easter / post-Labor Day wardrobe trio, if you will – today’s Southern women are all over the place, honestly. Some wear white shoes or white pants or even WHITE LINEN PANTS year-round with all manner of devil-may-care fashion abandon. Some (*cough*MARTHA AND SISSIE*cough*) stick to all the rules all the time and will continue to do just that until they’re called home to Glory because why, why would you break the rules, why?

    As for me, I wear sandals well into October (yes, Jen – OPEN-TOED) because it’s hotter than sin down here until then and I don’t really care for the look of capri pants with, you know, boots. I’ll wear linen after Labor Day if it’s a dark color, but any light-colored linen goes into the summer clothes closet just as soon as Labor Day hits. And I don’t even own white shoes because, well, I have some issues about white shoes, but we’ll just leave those issues alone for now, ‘kay?

    So in conclusion: Jen, I think you should feel free to wear your open-toed shoes after Labor Day. Since it’s a bit of a gray area, I like to apply what I call The Tacky Test. And bottom line: I think it’s way more tacky to let your feet sweat based on principle than it is to wear a cute summer shoe into the fall months.

    Plus, it’s like Mama used to tell me: “What’s inside is more important than what’s outside. People will forget a pair of tacky shoes, but they won’t forget a tacky heart.”

    Or something like that.

    She also used to say that tacky is as tacky does, but I’m still not really sure what that means. And I’m in my 30’s now.

    However, I do know that I’d rather show up to a late-night New Year’s Eve party wearing an all-white ensemble with a hat AND open-toed shoes than to be tacky on the inside.

    And that is one Southern rule that will never, ever change.

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    1. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Oh, now I need to wipe the coffee off of my computer screen! Even though I was born and raised a Yankee and am now a Yankee again, I spent many lovely years all over the South, courtesy of the US Navy. The thing that always struck me about Southern dress was the sheer vibrancy of color and design. I loved being so cute and colorful. You just can’t pull that off up here – maybe it’s because our hottest weather is only three months long, at best. Now if you need some fashion advice on flannel and woolens, I’m your girl. Very funny, BooMama :)

    2. Hmmmmm. My general rule??? Although I toooo love to paint my toes with “bashful pink” polish ANNNND wear red, harlot-like shoes…never the two shall meet!!!!

      I cringe when I look down at my red, patent leather, 4-inch-heel “hooker shoes” and see pink toenails peering out.

      My mama taught me BETTER than that!!! ;-]

    3. Very funny, but so true! I was raised with those same rules, being a Georgia girl.

      Great post.

    4. You are so great!!! I have many fond childhood memories of my Mama giving me lessons on fashion etiquette. I still feel weird about wearing white between Labor Day and Easter. But down here in Calcutta, I mean, South Texas, it stays too hot almost year-round to worry too much about etiquette.

      And I feel the same way about the South that you do (and South Texas ain’t what I mean when I say the “South!”). I still dream of living in Mississippi or Alabama again one day. My dream of retirement is sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch in South Mississippi and enjoying breathing in air that smells wonderful. Being around people who are kind, genuine, friendly, and helpful. And having no traffic problems to deal with! It’s a dream, but I have to believe it because if I think for a second that I might retire out here, I’ll be too depressed!

    5. Natalie says:

      I just have to say that being a Born and Breed Yankee (New Yorker at that!), I just can’t wait to read your blog everyday. You make me LOL!

    6. Oops.
      You can tell I am not from the south because not only do I wear Linen just about year ’round (because I am crazy-obsessed with linen) but I wear flip-flops until my feet will shrivel and die from frost bite. Then again, I’ve never played by the fashion rules. I’m a bit of an independent thinker (read: crazy and wild) so I never follow that. Except for while shoes after labor day. I saw Serial Mom and will never be the same. I do have good manners, though.

    7. I had someone from Tennessee tell me recently that I do not live in the South. I live in Virginia. Northern Virginia but it is still SOUTH of the Mason-Dixon Line. And because our area is one that attracts folks from all over the country and the world, we southern girls stick together. I was born outside of Petersburg, Virginia and believe me…it don’t get more Southern than Petersburg, Virginia. I adhere to all of the said Southern rules and also use the Tacky Test. Let’s face it…it’s pretty durn hot here into October usually.

    8. WOW…I honestly never knew any of that. You would think the MidWest isn’t very far from the true South, but it is. I don’t think we have any hard and fast rules for living here. My only rule is save the corduroy for Fall and Winter…big no-no to wear cords in the Spring/Summer. Other than that…wear it if you dare. Thanks for the lesson…I learned something new and it’s only 7:30!

    9. Oh my goodness- That is just too funny- It is quite a dilemma to decide what to wear in September to a football game when it is 150* outside and the stores are only selling wool coats!Can you wear white open toe shoes with a black wool coat? I don’t think so!

    10. I, too, come from the “White Shoes Issues” club, Boo. Mine has something to do with Easter after Easter, picking out new WHITE Easter shoes (at Payless, I’m sure)to go with my ensemble…hair winged on the side and sprayed with hair spray…I’m twitching at the thought of it.

    11. …sigh… I dream of a world where you have an option of wearing open toed shoes after labour day…but alas the snow is really chilly on them!

      And here, we wear hats after dark… they are called toques!

      As far as white after labour day – is the snow frozen in our hair included in that faux-paux??

      If I could move to the south I would follow ALL the rules, yes ma’am I would Miss BooMama… panty hose and all!

    12. Bravo! Thanks for clearing it up for me!!!

    13. Bailey's Leaf says:

      Well, I am from the great state of Ohio, where a few rules come into play (at least in NE Ohio.)
      1. The halloween costume MUST fit over a winter coat.
      2. The season of layers can begin as early as mid September.
      3. As cute as people think that it is, I still don’t find it okay to wear flip flops in the snow.
      4. As cute as people find it to be, it seems extremely and uncomfortably disturbing that people in Ohio wear toe rings all year round. In flip flops, in closed toe winter boots. You name it. Toe rings alone creep me out. (Sorry.)
      5. Mosquito spray must be kept into account when choosing a perfume to wear, especially to an evening function.
      6. Fleece is your friend.

      And I agree, white shoes are bad. They remind me of the years that my mom insist that I wear an Easter bonnet. (Which, BTW, I hated.)

    14. AHHHH! I loved that! This California girl (now in the south) appreciated that lesson to no end! : )
      And the reminder about not having a tacky heart! Blessings!

    15. Based on where I live … some would think I’m a Yankee … while others categorize me as a Southerner … so I guess that makes me a Yankoutherner … but I would have to agree that for the most part, fashion rules of old have been pretty much set aside. Except, the hat rule, of course.

      But no matter whether I’m a Yankee or Southerner, I’m pretty certain that the actual fashion etiquette guidelines call for no white before Memorial Day (not Easter) and after Labor Day. What can I say — I’m a Barbizon graduate.

      And to this very day, I have a very tough time breaking that particular rule, and am hard pressed to wear either white clothing or shoes or flip flops before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.

    16. I’ve been known to wear flip flops in DECEMBER down here in TX. Etiquette be darned!

      If the A\C is running, I think it is okay to let those toes show!

      We’re a little different south of the Mason\Dixon!

    17. Here in Houston we wear flip-flops all year round. Of course last year on Christmas Day I think it was 70 degrees. I am an Arkansas girl and the thought of trapping my feet in anything when it’s above 55 is just crazy, rules be *#&%@!. And of course, if those Yankees Stacy London and Clinton Kelly from What Not To Wear say we can do it, then let’s do it!!!

    18. Janet (aka JT) says:

      Let me tell you, my time in Maine when my hubby was stationed there was CULTURE SHOCK. I mean, we’re Native Texans who were first sent to North Carolina, and I was continually singled out when other Texans saw the Texas plates on my truck–it was like some family reunion, no matter where in Texas the folks were from. At the gym where I worked out, I was called, “Miss Texas,” and the other wives in our unit called me that as well, which thrilled me to no end.

      Then we moved up north.

      People would come up, all suspicious, and ask where I was from, and when I said, “Texas,” they’d say, almost relieved, “Ooohhhhh,” as if to say, “well that explains everything.” It wasn’t a good thing. I was the only person I ever saw who wore makeup, and I quickly felt as if I went from being Miss Texas to “The Painted Lady of the North.” Now don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with Maine, but, boy, it really took some getting used to.

      I went to church one Sunday and had a baby in each arm and a 50-pound diaper bag slung over my shoulder, and although people commented on “my, your hands are literally full,” NO ONE opened the door for me. NO ONE. Not even the ushers. They just all stood there watching me, wondering, I’m sure, if I would, in fact, be able to open the door.

      Needless to say, my heart is happy to be back home.

    19. I’ve been in Maine for 15 years. Mainers DO casual. We have ELDERS who wear (gasp) shorts to church. Dresses? What are THOSE?

      I am on the worship team and pert near ALWAYS wear a dress or skirt to church. This is not because it is required, but because it’s what feels comfortable to me.

      However, I have finally slipped away from my southern roots – I don’t wear hose in the summer and I don’t wear make and do my hair to go to the mailbox.

    20. We’re not even from the south, have never been near the south, or really, unless I count my internet friends, have never known anyone from the south. And yet my European mother had the same rules when I was growing up. Hmmm, wonder how that happened.

      And I so now want to know your white shoe issues.

    21. Boo,
      You forgot the seersucker rule. It would fit in the same catagory as linen. Personally, I haven’t worn seersucker since I was a child but I see “outfits” in the stores for adult ladies. I would think that gingham and madras would be in the same catagory also. Hailing from North East Texas and cursed to follow the rules! :-)

    22. My Mama and her friends did not have pierced ears until they were well in their 50’s. Cause, nice girls did not have pierced ears.
      Lord, all of them going to the mall to get their ears pierced was on the level of them walking into a bar and ordering a round of shots. Of course they only wear little pearl studs and small little hoops and tiny little diamonds.

    23. I hope you don’t mind that when I read your posts I hear them being narrated by Paula Dean in my head. Just thought you’d like to know. :)

    24. Bailey's Leaf says:

      Darling Janet/JT,

      I apologize for the rudeness of the northerners. I, too, have found their reluctance to open doors. My favorite is when they skinny in the door so it slams shut just as you reach it with your child. I was taking my child into a store. I had her in a stroller. I would open the door, hold it open with that hind end that the Lord blessed me with and sling her on in. I actually had someone HAVE me hold the door open for them– both the outside door and interior door all the while I was slinging my child’s stroller in. That is one thing I really appreciate in the south. Women are treated nicely, doors are opened and secretly I like being called Ma’am by the young’ns! :) Glad you are back home and feeling great! (Can you tell I have no childcare today and had to call off?!) Off to go see my grandma!

    25. Where I live in the north, tacky attire is not having your winter hat and mittens match your parka.

      I’m so sorry if some of my fellow northeners have displayed bad manners. That’s unacceptable no matter where you live. My experience for the most part is that even though we northeners often have cold hands due to the weather, most of us do indeed have warm hearts!

    26. LOL! I thought these rules were universal. However, the past couple of Sundays I haven’t worn hose to church–it’s been too blooming hot over here in Georgia. As I’ve gotten older I have relaxed some of the rules, such as wearing linen after Labor Day. If it’s hot, I’ll wear it. The white rule is still hard and fast–nothing white before Easter and after Labor Day. :-)

    27. You are too funny! I agree with one of the earlier posters…if the A/C is still on, then I’m wearing flip flops. Truth be told, I’ll wear them in the snow too. :) It’s so rare in TX anyway. My only hard and fast rule is if you’re going to show your toes, they better be painted/pedicured!

      Thanks for making me laugh today!

    28. LOL Too funny! and Too true!! I’m a Southern born and raised and rebel to the core so you wont’ have to ask me twice if I’ll wear open toed shoes after LAbor Day..course I will, even though my mama said its a no no and I do love me some red shoes! …but I’ll admit I have issues with white shoes…I’m having difficulties wearing them even in the dead of summer. ;) Surfed over from Barb’s place…of course..:)
      Nice to meet ya!

    29. Oh, can I just tell you how glad I am that you have tackled this subject? I have seriously thought about going a blogosphere-wide CRUSADE to make people STOP WEARING WHITE SHOES BETWEEN LABOR DAY AND EASTER. And then I remember that there is, you know, a WAR going on, and I should probably get a little perspective.


      But that said, I do wear sandals until it actually gets cold outside, which in Oklahoma is sometimes into November. And I HAVE worn black linen pants in the wintertime, but I found myself looking over my shoulder to see if my dear Southern grandmother (who has been gone for nearly 15 years) was somehow watching.

    30. Some things you just can’t give up. I never go to church without my hose. I stick fast to the rule about white shoes after labor day. But I will sometimes eat chili in the summer even though it is strictly a ‘winter food’.

    31. This thread is exactly why I can’t imagine living anywhere other than the South. We have our problems, but we have fabulous traditions and class and grace (most of the time!).

      I just can’t wear white shoes either, at any time! I used to work for a gay man and he was all the time issuing people “fashion citations” and his biggest pet-peeve was white, open-toed shoes. I could never, ever do it again. But I will wear open-toed shoes before Easter and well into the fall. It’s just too warm down here!

      Happy Tuesday!

    32. I always wondered what the rules were. I grew up not really knowing much about all these rules. My Grandma is from Texas but I don’t know that she really made my Mom follow all the rules. So I guess my Mom didn’t pass them on to my sister and I.

      I think our society as a whole has just gotten way more relaxed and comfortable these days!

    33. Very well said!! I, for one, am glad to break out of the southern mold my mother put me in, and I wear what I want whenever I want. I gave up white anything when I had children, and have yet to go back. Black is my best friend! :) And, I will wear sandals at Thanksgiving dinner if it’s warm enough, which is what has happened in MS the past couple of years. I do get the eye from the older generation at church when I do this, but I just smile back and say “Hey, y’all, how y’all doing this mornin’?” and go on my merry way :)

    34. Samantha says:

      Thanks for this post! I had trouble putting my finger on what made me southern until I had to come up to the midwest for a few years. Now I have a better idea of what the differences are. LOL And the other funny thing is that I have a friend from TX who insisted they were southern until she recently spent some time in the deep South. Now she knows what I was talking about!

      I personally can’t do the white shoe thing either. I just think most of them look silly–too much constrast with the tan legs or something. However, I love them on little girls, especially with lacey socks! Oh, and it’s good to point out that the white shoe/clothing rule doesn’t apply to babies and toddlers. It is always appropriate to have a baby or toddler in batiste and white shoes! It is not, however, appropriate to dress a tiny baby in stiff denim or camoflage! LOL

      OK, getting off of my fashion soap box. Thanks for the giggles this morning. :-)

    35. Yes, you did list some of the most classic southern rules. My Mother-in-Law is “old school southern”. You wouldn’t catch that women dead in open toed sandles or white pants after Labor Day. And she takes issue with me when I put the girls in sandles before or after the approved holidays (but I will say that even I have trouble with spaghetti stapped dresses after Labor Day).

      And she fusses at me to no end for not wearing hose to church. I’ve gotten more than my fair share of lectures of how young Motheres today just don’t know how to dress properly when going to church. There’s a long list of do’s and don’t associated church wear.

      Now, I have to admit I grew up in south Georgia (we moved north when I was a teenager), it’s hard to admit, but we were a little more on the “red neck” side of southern. Which takes a slightly different flair from your typical southern (I appologize to any slightly-pink-necks out there.) When we moved to “the big city” I became more citified and now follow more traditional southern rules. And thanks to being married to a true southern gentlemen for 13 years and his Mother’s influence they were able to turn me into a more refined southerner.

      I’m glad that you cleared up a few things for those that are not blessed to live in the south :o)

      Georgia Mom

    36. “We love saying (and hearing) yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, and no sir.

      We love to have the door opened for us and don’t think for one second that it’s patronizing. It’s kind.

      We love to take the good china out of the cabinet and use it year-round.

      We love fresh flowers when company’s coming, handwritten thank-you notes on monogrammed notecards, and baking a pound cake for your neighbor’s second cousin’s daughter whose dog just died.”

      These reasons alone make me want to move back to the South, where life is good, manners are second nature and friendships last forever.

      And I hope to never have a tacky heart.

    37. This was SO Dear Abby…you totally need a Lifestyle advice Column!! :))

    38. As a fellow Bama/Southern girl, you hit the nail right on the head. Our neighbors told me that right after they moved here, they were amazed yet a little confused at why us southerners wave at each other when passing on streets, in cars, etc. That northern people aren’t just that friendly.

      And when you said bashful pink, I immediately heard Julia Roberts saying, “BLUSH AND BASHFUL!”

    39. I am forever Southern and obey the holy and right law that says no white after labor day or before Easter. :) Even living in very deep south Texas (which is NOT the South btw, lol) on the coast where rules of dress and formality are much more relaxed and where we are still in the 70’s in January…the girl does not wear white (nor does her daughter). I do wear sandals pretty much year around, but really Uggs in 80* weather in Feb, just ain’t right. ;)

    40. Hilarious! The capri’s with boots comment created a picture in my mind that I wish I could describe to you…or maybe I don’t:)

      No white shoes in my closet. I have an aversion.

      Maybe I’ll get it to the white shoe thing if God blesses me with a daughter, probably not.

    41. At our church, I just wish we had some longer skirts and some jeans that came up on the waist a little higher. And must we see midriff too? I thought I was pretty relaxed and young until the next generation showed up. My BIL has a conniption when they sing on stage in flip flops or barefoot. But I have to say, at least they are there and worshipping God. Just a little less skin please! (Was that off topic, because that’s what popped into my mind when I was reading the topics. Sorry). Oh! And I stay as far away from panty hose as possible except for weddings and funerals. :)

    42. I am a Yankee and I’m raising a wee Yankee who is being taught to hold the door open for ladies. I’m not sure if that is regional or just bad manners if it isn’t happening – I’m leaning towards the latter.

      I don’t wear white shoes/sandals either – if I did it wouldn’t be before Memorial Day or after Labor Day – that much I know. I never take my toe ring off – and it has a dangly flower on it – doesn’t bother me a bit even when I’m doing the corporate America thing and wearing hose/business suit and the obligatory black pump.

      I never, ever wear linen – I have issues with the wrinkle factor and it’s almost more than my OCD tendancies can handle…wait, it is more than they can handle which is why I don’t wear it.

      I read your entries with a “twang” too – yours and Big Mamas. Miles (the Yankee being taught to hold the door open) always asks why I’m talking “Texas.” :-) Or I guess in this case, is it Alabama?

      This Yankee girl did not put china on the gift registry because the Canadians who raised her only brought the china out for special events. Waste of valuable real estate so Yankee girl opted out.

    43. Oh BooMama. Right on sistah!

      Well, I enforce what I call the flip-flop clause to the dressing etiquite. It is perfectly okay to wear flip-flops ANYTIME it is 80 degrees or above. And here in the South that can happen almost any month in the year.

      So, feel free to add your own “open toed shoe clause” to the policy.

    44. I think maybe the last time I wore hose was my wedding day, and that was because my mother forced me to. Now that I’m a big girl, I avoid them.

      I’m always trying to explain the white shoes between Easter and Labor Day thing to my husband, but he just doesn’t get it. Here’s another question, though. What about black shoes in the summer? Is that okay?

    45. I don’t own white shoes except for my sneakers – and I’ll wear those year round.
      But I will wear open-toed shoes after Labor Day – September just can be plain old too hot to worry about that sometimes.

    46. I inherited a few of these rules, since my Grandmother was a Texan. (Although I’ve never lived in the south.)

      I never wear sandals, open toe shoes, or boat shoes before Memorial Day or after Labor day. Ditto for white pants, linen, seersucker, and madras.

      When the weather is warm before or after these dates I just wear loafers. Without socks, of course.

    47. My mother used our “best” china for every meal and she put flowers on the table for everyday.. her message “What day could be more important that today when we are all together.”

      I’m not my mother, but I love that kind of thing. I want there to be standards of appropriatenss. Here in the west.. the attitude is more (even amoung very young children..) “I make the rules for my own self” and a lot of people don’t do a very good job with that. I have a problem speaking to youth.. because they are either wining or speaking over the top of my small voice which drives me nuts. Children do not respect or speak respectfully to their elders and so it is frustrating to try to do fun things for them at church functions and even with some of my daughter’s friends…

      However, maybe I am part of the problem.. because I love the standards that you have listed and I think that is the way to behave properly, but I can’t.. I just can’t wear hose. I just can’t.

      Great post! You southern ladies can teach the rest of us a thing or two!

    48. Hmmmm….I don’t even own linen clothing due to the wrinkle factor. I didn’t know anyone really dealt with this challenging fabric!

      I’d love to hear your white shoe issues. I don’t think I have white shoes anymore myself, now that I think about it.

      When you run around with bare feet in sandals all year, what do you do if you want to take your shoes off in someone’s home? Do you all keep your shoes on no matter what, or do you wander people’s homes in bare feet??? That’s always my issue…I think it’s rude to put my bare foot on someone else’s floor, yet I think it’s rude to wear shoes in their home, too. And I definitely don’t like THEIR bare feet on MY floors!!! Personally I think feet and shoes in general are tricky, tricky, tricky issues!!

    49. White shoes have not graced my feet since Easter of ’79 when I wore a pair of white, patent yo-yo sandals. The rule has never been an issue for me.

      However, I will show my toes until the temperatures drop into the 60’s. It’s just too hot to confine my feet to socks and boots. It’s bad for the sole. (pun intended and apologized for)

    50. Oh my goodness did you hit the nail on the head. As a true southern peach from just above Atlanta, I say three cheers for BooMama.

      I was raised with those same rules and I haven’t owned white shoes since my high school graduation where they were required.

      Now I am off to drink some sweet tea and sit a spell.


    51. I live in Hotlanta which is home to humidity and Georgia red clay. Go ahead, keep your feet cool with white sandals, but you won’t be able to keep them clean. One thing I will not tolerate is suntan pantyhose with white shoes and especially sandals.

      I think I look at people’s feet first while others may choose to gaze into someones eyes or look at their hands.

      Another rule – don’t wear white socks with dark shoes and don’t wear dark socks with white shoes.

      I have said my peace.

    52. This blog was such a breath of fresh air for me today!! I grew up in Eastern Tennessee and went to school at BAMA. Then, I married into the Army life. I cannot describe my disbelief the first time I went to buy hose for church while living in the West (because to be dressy, you HAD to have hose on). I had to try several stores to find hose! I am now in Western WA and style is so casual here. I have become hose free and I wear sandals as long as I can–but it just doesn’t stay warm here that long. (I am SO excited because today it MIGHT get up to 78 degrees!) I do enjoy the relaxed fashion sytle because I always had trouble following the fashion ettiquite rules. Like others that commented, I have trouble wearing white shoes at any time because of how that rule was hammered into my head as a child!

      This was too funny! Thanks for the laugh! I will probably refer some WA friends to the blog so they can read and be totally shocked.

    53. Because we sometimes have 80-degree Christmases and freak cold spells in March down here in Texas, I figure all the shoe rules are out the window. If the weather permits, I wear my flip flops all year long!

    54. I really want to be a Southern Girl Now!

      Great post.

    55. YOU are a laugh a minute riot !!!!!
      I’m in southeastern VA, and only obey the white below the belt memorial day/labor day rule here myself…. I’m in flip flops year round. even at church I dare say. lol!

    56. This made me giggle with the correctness of it. As a Georgia girl, I remember when I was younger and my mom told me I could not wear white shoes until after Easter. I remember not being able to wear shorts or sandals after Labor Day. You also couldn’t swim after eating and no swimming until after Memorial Day (even wading in creeks). Of course, I rebel against all these rules now. It is too hot to keep your feet cooped up! If your weather is like ours, you don’t even see cold weather until January. I love the South and cannot imagine living anywhere else. Loved this! Blessings to you!

    57. Danielle says:

      I do SO WISH that men around the country would take a page from Southern men and take those hats off indoors! It’s just rude not to!

      I wear flip-flops until my toes get cold. Heck, I’d go barefoot year-round if I could.

    58. Well, Bless your heart! Aren’t you just the sweetest thang to share those rules with us! LOL

      That was great!!! I have one pair of white shoes and I still have a tough time wearing them anytime of the year!!


    59. I can so relate to this post. I go by all of the rules, but not because I agree with them. I am just afraid of what my Memaw would say to me if she saw me or my princess out (especially at church) with white sandles on before Easter or after Labor Day…or in linen for goodness sake!

    60. I grew up in the Louisville area. White shoes after Easter? No, not until after the DERBY. Then you could wear white shoes. Same thing with men and straw hats–no straw hats until after the Derby. I know one year for Easter, my mom wore navy/white spectator pumps–pure white wasn’t allowed, but the spectator pump got around that. I don’t remember when we stopped wearing white shoes, or at least the rule on that–I guess it was when school started, whenever that might have been. My husband who DIDN’T grow up near Louisville, still gets a kick out of my setting fashion rules based on the Derby.

    61. Now this is also a regional “southern thang”….how about dressing up and wearing makeup to the Wal-marts or the Walgreens or the grocery store. It’s like a style show or something. And if you forget to? Sure ‘nough, you will run into more people than you ever thought possible!

      I love that here in Colorado I forget to put my make up on and don’t worry at all about it! It is wonderful! Such freedom!

      Also it is very important if someone in the south does wear white or open toed shoes before Easter that you say, “Bless your heart, sugar and sweet thang” a lot. Then they feel less ostrasized…but later, they will be discussed at length :)
      Am I right?

    62. have you ever tried explaining to your daughters why they can’t wear their white shoes in the winter? “But so and so wears white shoes to church with her winter dresses…” sigh. it’s hard to explain the unwritten laws of fashion and sometimes you just don’t want to, especially when they feel sad for their friends whose mamas didn’t teach them the rules.

    63. I too have not worn white shoes in decades. My size 9.5 feet/boats really don’t need anymore attention than they already get. I even bought an ivory wedding dress because I couldn’t stand the thought of white shoes. Extreeme you say? Be that as it may…
      I am a displaced Southerner. I get all kinds of questions from the westerners I live with – why do you say y’all? why do you insist on yes/no ma’am/sir? why do you go all out for babies/weddings/funerals/etc? why this and why that?
      The only thing I can tell them is, “It’s nice”. Usually that shuts their poor little non-Southern mouths. Others say it’s just too much. I could quote Mae West, but I ususally just shake my head and move on. They don’t get it and never will.
      We Southerners are a nice people, for the most part. That is what I miss on a daily basis. People that care.
      And green. Be it grass or trees.
      And overall, the little things that make life, well, nice.
      BooMama, you may have clapped in delight, but I have tears of sadness in my eyes. Thanks for the laugh and the reflection.

    64. My east coast friend is horrified at the notion of white shoes after Labor Day. Me, being from Arizona, was not even aware of this rule until college. For the sake of our friendship, I have acquiesced. Sort of. Really I don’t like white shoes anymore and don’t find occasion to wear them often. I do have two pairs – both sandals.

      As for the toes – glory. I wear my flip flops year ’round. I mean goodness, it’s still 95 degrees in mid October.

    65. I have actually wondered about the white shoes thing — and thought maybe I was the only person who still did! I tend to go more by the weather than the dates, because here in SC it’s way hot long before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

      I still can’t make myself go to church without nylons, but all my dresses are long enough that I can wear the knee-hi ones. I’m careful about not bending over so I don’t flash “little old lady” hose at anybody. :)

    66. LOL !!!

      I am Southern to my soul – but a COMPLETE and unabashed REBEL in my heart ! I gave up the “rules” years ago – I no longer worry what color or kind of shoes I wear and when…No more doing the hair n’ makeup thing if I’m just going to the store….hell, most often I don’t even wear it to work ! …and *gasp* I haven’t painted my toes in close to 20 years !

      N’ the first person that says “Bless her heart” to me will get a Sweet ‘Tater Pie
      chunked at them !! ;)

    67. I agree: no hats at night, unless you’re doing a vintage cocktail hat with the outfit and personality to match.

      I practically live in flip-flops year round. I think the South is just hotter now than it used to be!

    68. Oh I love this post! One of the things I loved about living in Atlanta for a year (and touring other parts of the south while there) was the beautifully dressed and well mannered people I encountered.

      It so casual where I live that it’s easy to feel overdressed if you’re in the mood to make a bit of an effort with your appearance. And I’m pretty sure there aren’t any of the fashion rules here that you mentioned.

      Despite the fact that I’m not Southern, I do believe in things like handwritten cards, taking baked goodies to friends and neighbors, and welcoming new neighbors when they move in. Because of these things, I’m considered the “queen bee” of my neighborhood (one of my neighbors just told me that last night) and I don’t mind a bit. :)

      Great post, BooMama!

      P.S. Are you supposed to wear hats in church or take them off when you arrive? In my grandmother’s day you weren’t caught in church without something covering your head (hat, lacy doily looking thing, or something) but now I think I’ve heard it’s rude to keep your hat on during mass. ((sigh)) It’s so hard to know what’s the right thing to do. :)

    69. Oh, the other things I loved about Atlanta (and the South) were the fabulous houses with the big front porches, magnolia trees blossoming in the spring, the home cooking, and the martini bars! :)

      Can you tell I miss the South?

    70. Bless your heart, honey child, for sharing “the rules.”

    71. Capris with boots? Well shoot! It’s too late to change what I wore to Mandy’s wedding.

      As a girl born in the south, every single thing you said here resonates with me. I’ve lived in Colorado since 1969 for heavens sake and I’d die before I wore white after labor day. The shoe thing? Not so much. Sandals year round. Period. Snow and all.

    72. Great post!!! I never wear white pants or skirts after Labor Day. That’s why they have Winter White. No white shoes either. There was a time when dark colors were the thing for funerals but that seems to be changing too. And you don’t wear red, black or white to someone’s wedding. Some traditions are just ingrained in us Southern girls.
      Mama Bear

    73. But, there’s more RULES!

      1. No velvet after Valentines Day
      2. No black patent before Valentines Day
      3. No chiffon before Easter

      Bless your heart, I’m sure it was just an oversight.

    74. suzanne says:

      It just isn’t easy being a Southern girl, is it?
      I don’t wear white shoes either…don’t like ’em. Hose, hardly ever. This was such a great post, BooMama…..and is BooMom your own dear mama?

    75. AMEN!
      I couldn’t agree more!

    76. Wonderful, wonderful! I’ll admit to breaking a few of the rules – but NEVER the linen before or after the time-approved holidays. I try to do it, but always relent. :)

      I’ve posted a link on my blog…

    77. I’m home. :)

    78. I didn’t realize people still followed the white shoe/open toed shoe rules. I bought open toed white sandals today and plan on wearing them tomorrow? Does that make your skin crawl now?

    79. Do Stacy and Clinton on What Not to Wear know these imperative rules?

    80. I came here from a link to a link to a link type chain – and had to laugh!!

      The first time I ever heard the white shoe rule was in Serial Mom and it brings that to mind every time.

      Over here, we don’t wear white shoes PERIOD. Cause they just get all dusty or muddy, depending on the season. That and they don’t make that many varieties of white thongs (flip-flops to those of you not speaking my language).

      The only people who wear white shoes are not to be trusted – property developers, tennis players, harlots…

    81. I from the west California to be exact. Boy would I be in trouble if I ever moved to the south. I gave up hose years ago. Pants to church or long enough dress to wear knee high stockings in winter. Summer no hose & sandals, slip-ons. They are so much for comfy for my feet. I could wear them year round. I am on my feet most of the morning at church, so comfort before fashion rules. My mom use to follow the rules. But I broke away from rules. Occasionally I match my purse to my shoes on Sunday. But since my purse is lock up in my office, I don’t even do that much anymore.

    82. Born a Texan, raised in the Northwest and recently tranplanted back to the South. Guess I need to brush up on what’s proper for a Southern belle. I honestly did not know some of those rules existed! Thanks for the crash course in Southernisms.

    83. You are a delight! I love your style. I’m not even from the South (I’m from Jersey), but my Mama taught me those very same rules. I still feel a little rebellious with my bare legs at church and my sandals in October (but I do live in LA now). Also, I thank you for introducing me to Heather’s blog. I joined in on her party tonight. You’re both wonderful.

    84. BEING a lady is always more important than dressing like one.


    85. The “white rule” I grew up with was “no white clothing (below the waist and/or dresses)before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. A person used to be able to tell what the season was by, not only the style but, the fabric. But for the last few years, that isn’t always the case. It is hard to find a nice dress in the winter any more that has sleeves. Most of the them have spaghetti straps or are strapless. A few weeks ago, I was looking for a little-nicer-than-usual top to wear with some dress slacks. I had a tough time finding one that wasn’t a long-sleeved sweater or a two-pieced set with long sleeves, many in a heavy weave. The color choices were very seasonal and pretty but OH, MY GOSH! I would have croaked!! They must assume that everyone will be in very cold air-conditioning all day. I did find one that suited me but it was like finding a needle-in-a-haystack! I recognized most of your “fashion rules”, BooMama. I don’t live in the South, just southern Ohio. It must be country living…….I know all about that :)

    86. As a Northerner, and a foster parent, I’ve had to deal with the “rules” as I knew them clashing with the “no rules” kids have today. When the first 16-year-old girl we had wanted to wear flip-flops to church on EASTER I was appalled! (She had other nice clothes she could wear.) I told her that flip-flops were not appropriate for church. Period.

      By the time we had our 2nd foster daughter who was a teenager, I’d relaxed a bit. I let her wear flip-flops to church as long as they were clean and she was dressed appropriately otherwise. I had to decide if she could wear white flip-flops before Easter or after Labor Day…

      Anyway, since we’ve adopted two little girls I have been struggling with what’s important for them to know and follow and what’s just tradition. I will let them wear light dresses before Easter, but still have a problem with white shoes. I’ll let them wear dark dresses before Labor Day, but still can’t figure out why I’m so controlling about the color of their shoes!

      Where we attend church, it’s like anything goes! I hate that! I don’t want to see the teenagers in mini skirts with their bellies showing. It’s even more distubing that the adults are now dressing like the teenagers.

      To sum it up, I want them to have manners. And traditions. Maybe we need to move to the south.

    87. LOL! I’m sitting here thinking that my only “personal” experience with southern women was when I watched DESIGNING WOMEN (and penned the network to get it back on air when it was cancelled early on). Suzanne Sugarbaker. What a beautiful name and hysterically funny character!

      Dh had the chance to move to Charlotte with his job back in the mid 90’s (he actually worked there for 4 months and could have stayed). I was *really* not happy that he didn’t want to move there,…and have never let him live it down either.
      “If we had moved to the south, I would know how to cook.”
      “If we had moved to the south, I wouldn’t be cold.”
      “If we had moved to the south, I’d learn to tame my tongue,…or at least make it sound nice when I spoke my mind to you.”

      Ah, but I at least can live vicariously through my BooMama and for that, I’m grateful.

    88. I just love it when you write about Southern “stuff!” My mother was born and raised in Arkansas, and I spent time there as a child, though I grew up in Arizona. To this day, my mother holds fast with many Southern customs, and she has ingrained them in me. Write on! :-)


    89. I am in the far NW corner of the far NW state and I will wear open-toes shoes whenever but never never never wear white below the belt before Easter or after Labor Day. It’s just wrong.

    90. lisa h. says:

      i’ve been hearing of this blog for sometime and finally made my way over! wonderful, and not that i’m too partial (being southern and all), i may have to start reading!

      we’re relocated in the midwest and my 2 & 4 yr old are trained in the ways of yes ma’am and no sir’s and everyone thinks it odd, but they sound incredibly polite to me!

      i love sour cream pound cake!! great southern food!