Q: Is it true you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day? Or what’s the best way to tell a friend they remind you of CNN (constantly negative news) and they are bringing you down?
A: Wow – you’re asking someone who wears their furry Sorel boots with dresses for fashion advice? Probably not the smartest idea, but I think your question is about more than appropriate color choices.
Firstly, regarding wearing white after Labor Day, it doesn’t make a stitch of difference one way or the other. Whatever makes you happy is what’s most important (within reason – 60 year old women wearing tons of makeup and mini-skirts is not necessarily a good idea, but then it’s not a good idea for 20 year old women, either). I find myself paralyzed sometimes when I see what I want to wear, then think, “Maybe I shouldn’t be wearing this.”
My confusion is further compounded when I hear people say about my outfits, “I could never wear THAT,” which leads me to think, “maybe I shouldn’t be wearing it, either,” but they’re like, “Oh no, YOU can get away with it!” (whatever that means). You see the difficulties? Someone somewhere made up certain rules, but ask yourself why. That’s the bigger question. Why in the world would anyone care if you wear white after Labor Day? Why can’t I wear my Converse tennies with my skirt?
Think about the person who was criticizing you for wearing white (I’m assuming it was after Labor Day – what WERE you thinking?). Are they rigid, perfectionistic, controlling? Do they expect a lot from others and from themselves? Most likely. It’s probably comforting for them to live with set rules and expectations. They don’t have to worry that they’re doing the right thing because everything is all laid out in black and white for them.
I don’t mean to make a big deal out of the ‘wearing white’ thing, but I’m using it to explore some deeper issues that stem back thousands of years. Look at Moses – he came down from the mountain with 10 Commandments telling what we should and shouldn’t do, because obviously somebody thought we needed help. Sometimes as humans we find it hard to live by our own inner ethics and morals, and think we need a lot of them on the outside to survive in the world. Also we don’t want anything bad to happen to us if we break the rules – hell and all that.
It’s not always a good idea to have too many rules. They can paralyze us into living very safe, narrow lives. We don’t go outside our comfort zone to experience new things because we’re not confident of our abilities to make it in the big outside world. Let’s just stick with what we know, shall we? We could get hurt or ridiculed or mocked or shunned if we don’t do the ‘right’ thing. But how do you REALLY know what’s the right thing? Everybody’s got their own ideas, and no one’s really THE authority on anything (except maybe Stacy and Clinton).
When we’re young, yes, we need a little guidance in order to figure out how to get along in the world. We need to learn respect, cleanliness, how to play nicely with others, and other important things. But as we grow we begin to internalize those concepts of right and wrong, so that we don’t really need anyone to remind us to be respectful of others, or to clean up after ourselves, or how to be a good friend and model citizen. It’s possible for those qualities to become an automatic part of our everyday lives.
When we operate out of that internal set of ideals, we are then assured that we are living lives of integrity, and don’t need to second-guess every little action (of ours or of others). But people who haven’t quite gotten to that spiritual maturity level may think they still need to operate with outside-imposed rules and regulations. See if that makes sense to you, and if it does, you can then have compassion and understanding for those dear souls who try to rip the white pants right off of you, metaphorically speaking. They’re just trying to keep their own little worlds safe and reliable by trying to force the rest of us to adhere to their rules.
We know their rules aren’t necessarily our rules, but they may not have the capability to understand that yet. They probably don’t have the language, either. So the best we can do in those situations, then, is to smile and say, “You may be right, and you may need to call the fashion police, but I like wearing white.” YOU can understand where they’re coming from, even if they don’t understand you. Hopefully, by your understanding kindness, you can act as an inspiration to them, encouraging them by your actions to be less rigid and more spontaneous and authentic and original. If you see them often, you might even want to help them along a little more by wearing your pearls with your old t-shirt and ripped jeans. Ouch!
But no matter what you do, always remember to smile. We’re all doing the best we can, and if you can manage compassion, you can help the rest of the world by being kind. Always be kind. And for goodness sakes, wear white whenever you want (she says, looking down at her white khakis). Sheesh!
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