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A Fashion Dilemma: Is White the New Black?

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Let me qualify things right away here: I know as much about fashion as I know about quantum physics – virtually nothing. Still, I do think of myself as a pretty good observer of things. As a writer, I always find myself not just seeing things but actually studying them. Over the years I have watched and listened to people and stored their voices, idiosyncrasies, and faces in my mental toolbox. This is just something I always do.

So now I feel like I have been observing a trend (at least here in New York) that I find a bit surprising and slightly unsettling: white seems to be the new black. What I mean by that is that white seems to have become the color (or is that the un-color?) of cool. People are wearing all sorts of white vests, shorts, pants, skirts, shoes, and hats (even in these days after Labor Day). These people are both young and old and of all different backgrounds, so there is no question that it seems to be a trend, and they are looking cool wearing white despite the fact that the football season has already started.

My perception of white probably stems from my old uncle who in the summer months always wore a white ship captain’s hat, a white belt, and white shoes. I thought of him as Captain Ahab minus the big whale, and although he thought he looked great he looked kind of strange to me. The funny thing was lots of other older Italian guys wore the same thing during the summer. It looked like they were all going yachting instead of down to the park to play bocce in the heat.

In my youth I never wore white. Yes, I heard of the rule that white should only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but I much preferred wearing black like Johnny Cash or Roy Orbison or the bad guys in cowboy movies. Black was cool. Extremely cool, even when it was hot outside. I liked going out in a black shirt, black pants, and black shoes. It felt good and seemed right to me. I still like black now and wear other darker colors too, but white just doesn’t seem right, at least for me.

During Fashion Week here in New York, people were wearing white. This picture of the Kardashians at one of the runway events shows them clearly enjoying the color. Now I am wondering if I was wrong all along. Maybe white is the color to wear. P. Diddy even throws an annual “White Party” (guests may only wear white clothing), so that certainly makes it clear that white is the new cool color.

It’s not even warm here in New York anymore, but I am seeing people wearing white. It is on people who look very fashionable and seem to know what they are wearing. They spice it up with flashes of color: the women with scarves, hats, belts, and shoes; the men with hats and socks, but it seems like white is all right for them and who am I to question that?

So is white the new black? Should I break my own tradition and venture out wearing white? I think I’m afraid that I might be mistaken for an ice cream man or the guy looking for escapees from the funny farm if I dare to wear all white.

Autumn officially comes into town this week, and I want to see if the white trend continues. Either way I am not going to start wearing white until I get older and can wear the belt, the shoes, and the captain’s hat. Then I can go to the local park and play bocce with the other old guys like me. Until then I can admire those wearing white from a distance. They are the ones who embrace an eternal summer, and maybe that is a good thing for the body and the mind.

Besides, if white is not the new black then maybe it is just the new white, and that seems to make it okay for anytime of the year, so those of you out there wearing white can keep at it right through Christmas and into the new year. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.