Dear Newcomers, for everything there is a season

September 12, 2019


Newcomers from around the country are flocking to the South, and who can blame them? We have enough giant insects to share, so the more the merrier. But while some of these folks “do as we do,” and participate in our activities, others arrive and want to tell us how disgusting our food is and how we sound like bumpkins. Then, of all the nerve, they brazenly wear white shoes after Labor Day because some low-level fashion intern at a magazine craving headlines has declared it to be OK. These people who thumb their noses at our way of life are the ones who give the other lovely newcomers a bad name.

After ack-ack-choking on my lunch yesterday when a woman wore bright white sandals at the table next to me, a full week after Labor Day, I realized this topic needed reviewing.

The white shoes rule boils down to this, we’re at the mercy of our chaotic environment, which is usually as hot as new love. We can point to any day on the calendar and there will be a 60% chance of being uncomfortable or having a tree fall on our house accompanied by a biblical fly-over of locusts.

Who amongst us hasn’t thrown open the windows just to be able to enjoy a cozy night by the fireplace?

Because of the unpredictable and confusing weather, our ancestors relied on the Farmer’s Almanac and the organization of their limited wardrobe to help them know where they were in the year. We’ve maintained the practice because tradition is a powerful force.

Suede boots signal we’re close to Thanksgiving and white sandals say, “let’s make plans to picnic at the beach” Seersucker says, “get the fireworks ready” and plaid wool skirts say, “let’s go caroling!” Just because some outsiders wear white shoes after Labor Day, don’t be weak and let them lure you to the dark side. The next thing you’ll know they’ll have you putting sugar on your grits. Granny would say, “remember who you are.”

Brides and majorettes are allowed to wear white shoes or boots all year, and the widow wears black. Crazed football fans wear T-shirts that say, “we’re gonna whoop ya.” The teenager at the Piggly Wiggly wears the giant pig costume and our pastors (used to) wear suits. We wear the uniform of society to keep order.

When newcomers “do as the Romans do,” it makes them one of us, and we love them like family. When they enjoy our food, children and music, we’ll save them a seat at the high school football games. But if they tell us our restaurants are terrible and our teachers are dim-bulbs, they should go ahead and wear white shoes after Labor Day as yet another signal they just don’t like the way we do things and don’t really want to be one of us.

Understanding the art of “fitting in,” Saint Ambrose would have quickly adjusted to living in the South today. Right after Easter, he’d pop on a seersucker robe with white bucks, and we’d love him as one of our own.

This story first appeared on and in the newspapers in Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville.

  • Oh, bless me Leslie Anne for I have sinned! While I would never, ever wear white shoes after Labor Day or before Easter, just yesterday I did wear white Capri leggings. In my defense I am vacationing on the beach in Florida and it’s quite hot and humid. The other capris I packed were just too hot to consider. May I keep my Southern Belle card if I promise to pack away the white once I’m back home in big city Houston?

    Sugar on grits? Yuk!

    • All is forgiven. Twirl your baton twice and polish your tiara. You’re good to go.

  • Whenever I see white shoes I think of you Leslie Anne!

  • Fondly remembering my white Go Go boots in the early 70s! (You’re too young to remember!). I remembering Mama sighing “the where did I go wrong” sigh and saying “it’s your money”!!! Seriously, why do people move here only to complain and mock us?

    • My favorite complaint is when they act surprised at how hot it is here. Didn’t they know where they were moving? I had the white boots in first grade. Very cool, till you laugh and wet your pants.

  • Cute refresher article on why!!! I laughed out loud at your Instagram. I have been MIA on that medium, but I caught that and giggled good. I just can’t do it. White is out. It is hot, but I find more fall like colors to wear with my shorts that would never be white after Labor Day or linen…etc. etc. etc.

  • Mom and Grammie told me the following rules: no white shoes or white anything other than panties worn from the waist down after Labor Day; no open toe shoes (except Birkenstocks) worn after Labor day either. Seersucker is off limits until Easter as well.

    Winter white wool pants are dreamy and gorgeous with a Christmas red sweater, pearls and heels. Just sayin’…

    • I would have loved your Mom and Grammie! They did a good job raising you.

  • Not only do I not wear white shoes, I don’t wear white pants after Labor Day! Of course beautiful winter white wool pants are perfect during the holiday season. We do have our share of insects and critters. We are waging war on the armadillos, and they are winning! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Thanks Pam. I agree Winter white is a different color all-together, hard to explain, but it’s real. I had a pair of wool winter white pants I loved. I need to find another pair somewhere, but wool pants are hard to find around here! Happy weekend to you!

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