I’m soon to attend an afternoon spring wedding for some friends. At the moment, I’m a little short on cash so while I might want to buy a fabulous new dress for the occasion, that’s rather ill advised. I’m hoping to make use of what’s already in my closet.
I’ve got this appropriately formal dress — not too fancy, just right in style for their event. Unfortunately the dress is cream.
I seem to recall that it’s not proper at a wedding for any woman other than the bride to wear white. These days folks are wearing black - even the bridesmaids a sea of noir - a style I’d been taught isn’t Perfectly Proper so perhaps I’m not with the times? ¬†Am I okay with my lovely cream dress to the wedding?
Ladies, as you undoubtedly know, can be very back-biting about clothes. Etiquetteer worries that, if you wear your otherwise appropriate cream-colored dress to this wedding that you might be mistaken for the Malicious Mother of the Groom. The stereotypical advice for the mother of the groom has always been to “wear beige, show up, and shut up.” Etiquetteer has heard more than once that the definition of “beige,” “cream,” or “champagne” has been stretched to include near-white shades — or at least near enough to attract unfavorable attention not least from the Bride Herself.
The only way Etiquetteer can see out of this — and ladies may have a different opinion — would be to accessorize your cream dress with colors. Could you add hat, belt, handbag, shoes, gloves, and/or perhaps a shawl in some bright spring colors? This would keep you from appearing all in cream; since the bride is likely appearing all in white, the use of color in your outfit could deflect unjust criticism.
Like you, Etiquetteer has deplored the swelling tide of black at weddings, and has tried to promote midnight blue as a Perfectly Proper alternative that doesn’t connote mourning. Brides, unfortunately, can rarely see beyond their own Selfish and Prosaic Visions, so this is still an uphill battle.
Etiquetteer applauds the jailing of Jennifer LaPenta, a 19-year-old woman who may never be a lady, for wearing a profane T-shirt in a courtroom. [Special to Etiquetteer's mother: please do not read the article; you'll be offended by the language.] Waiting for a friend’s trial to be called, Ms. LaPenta was spotted by the judge in the gallery wearing a T-shirt that said “I Own the [Slang Term for Female Genitals] So I Make the Rules.” Aside from its own vulgarity, wearing such a T-shirt in a courtroom assaults the very idea of Justice. Justice makes the rules, and that requires more sense than conferred by possessing a particular body part.
Ms. LaPenta’s age, however, reminded Etiquetteer of two similar Experiments with Profane Expression as Rebellion when even younger. Young Etiquetteer once wore a button with a Profane Suggestion on it (no need for you to know what it was), and was publicly scolded by a bank teller to “TAKE THAT BUTTON OFF! TAKE IT OFF!” You may be sure that Young Etiquetteer flushed with shame for the rest of the day.
On another occasion, Young Etiquetteer wore a T-shirt to his summer job. On it was a quote from Louisiana ¬†Governor Earl Long: “If you ain’t got culture, you ain’t got ****.” Young Etiquetteer, of course, thought it was absolutely hilarious, and typical of the Long politicians. The boss, however, was unamused, and Young Etiquetteer had to wear that T-shirt inside out for the rest of the day.
Etiquetteer recognizes, as do many, that these expressions of Youthful Rebellion are made to test boundaries. Teenagers always seem shocked when their elders call them out, but Etiquetteer would suggest that shock and discipline are exactly the types of reactions they provoke. This also calls attention to the dreariness of using profanity to provoke a response. It’s tired, people, just tired.