I noticed a woman wearing whites and with a sun hat on walking in the other direction towards me. As we got closer, I was really, really tempted to comment "no white after Labor Day" and that she has to pack away that outfit after tomorrow and wait for the Fourth of July next year.
As powerful as that temptation was, I didn't yield to it. I smiled and kept going. I wonder what kind of thoughts others have about me when they smile as they pass me!
Way back, during my first year of graduate school, was when I learnt about this fashion statement of no white after Labor Day.
It was in the semester system and, thus, Labor Day was typically a fortnight after classes began. It was sometime after Labor Day that a Taiwanese classmate, who has even tasted my cooking at home but whose name escapes me, came to school in whites. She was fashionable always and had an air of affluence about her.
Matthew, who was big guy and remarkably confident about life and what he wanted to do, and with a wonderful sense of humor, saw her in her whites and made that comment about no white after Labor Day. The things one learns in graduate school! Though never one interested in fashions, I have always been an idea junkie and Matthew's comment caught my attention.
Over the years, much to my father's displeasure at times, I seem to be even less interested in what I wear. Though, I do observe some rules, I suppose. Every once in a while, I remind students that they, too, need to come to class not in rags but in business-friendly attire. Sometimes I joke that it matters especially if they are single--"you might miss out on your soul-mate" is one of the humorous lines I use. But, of course, I doubt whether even one student has paid attention to anything I have ever said!
Students do notice how we faculty present ourselves. Once, when I was at a student's wedding, another student commented that I looked good in the rather formal trousers/shirt/tie that I had on.
If only she had stopped there.
But, she continued. "Compared to the lounge clothes that you wear to class."
Now, it is not as if I wear some lounge-wear to class. Or, worse, walk around in a Hugh Hefner robe. I am guessing that the clothes that I typically wear to work did not meet her expectations of how a faculty ought to be in that setting.
Her comment was a contrast to another student who, a couple of years ago, told me that I am "totally with it" even without wearing formal clothes.
Appearance is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps.
And then there are some who can look stunning in whatever they wear. Expensive bling is not needed. Perhaps even in the middle of their sleep, they look uber-presentable. To them, rules such as no whites after Labor Day do not apply.
Way up there on that very short list is Audrey Hepburn, of course! ;)