As a Southerner and a lady, there are some key fashion concepts that are ingrained in girl children at birth. These are not guidelines or suggestions, they were written-in-stone by the hand of Moses, mostly because they’ve been around since the time of Moses. No white shoes between Labor Day and Easter, your hemline is in direct proportion to your age, spandex is a concept that is only appropriate for swimwear, et cetera. There are many more, but you either know them or you don’t, which translates into you either have class or you don’t.
As times have changed, these rules have become blurred by the misdeeds of society, or the mingling of the classes. I don’t mean income level, I mean those who went to college and those who went to the University of Alabama.
If you can’t possibly remember all of the rules for acceptable attire, and trust me there are more fashion laws than Kosher dietary laws, just remember to fit your wardrobe to every conceivable notion of what could possibly take place throughout your day.
Or as I like to call it, the “Tornado Fashion Guide.”
Here in the South, and literally as I type these words this scenario is playing out across our state and headed with gale-force speed in my direction, a freak thunderstorm can spin off a tornado faster than a frog fries on concrete (you will come to appreciate these colorful comparisons down the road). In other words, you never really know when severe weather can appear on the sweet elderly weatherman’s in-studio Doppler weather radar. So be prepared, namely, dress the part.
Whenever you reach for what you consider to be a fashion-forward outfit, ask yourself how that’s going to look in any given crisis situation. Are those new Lycra jeggings going to melt to your legs due to their high plastic content as you run through the flames of your burning house? Are those really boxy Elton John glasses going to gouge your eyeballs out and get stuck in the sockets when the airbag goes off in your car?
There is a horrifically sad but equally horrifically true story about the sweet overall-clad heroes of the Ohatchee Volunteer Fire Department being dispatched during a streak of violent tornados. As they cleared the rubble of one of many storm-tossed shacks, they unearthed the sad remains of a middle-aged gentleman who had perished when his home collapsed above him. That’s tragic enough on every level, but the man was found wearing an entirely black-vinyl S&M outfit, complete with zipper-mouthed hood and a whip still clutched in his fist. Unfortunately, a fellow consenting adult was never located, so the citizenry was left to believe that he just liked to wear this outfit while watching Wheel of Fortune. I would love to tell you that everyone in attendance swore a respectful oath of secrecy on this, but that is not the case. We have all now heard about Sexy Old Man Durbins and his fashion faux pas.
In some cases, it can be far worse to survive the tragedy than die as a result, all because someone lacked the good sense to choose her outfit more carefully. Watch the evening news, any time an overly loud woman is being interviewed about the calamity she is undoubtedly wearing pink hair curlers and a stained wife-beater tank top.
Hopefully your mother raised you from an early age with stern warnings to always have on clean underwear in case of a car accident, and I should hope that nothing worse would ever befall you. But please don’t tarnish your family’s good name by being rescued from a plane crash with peep-toe shoes and a four-week-old pedicure. It would be far less embarassing to your relatives if you had been the couple who survived only because they were renewing their membership dues to the Mile High Club within the safety of the steel-walled restroom.
Consider yourself schooled on the proper etiquette for any near tragedy. If bad weather is predicted for late hours in the evening, make sure are wearing pajamas to bed. Don’t get in your car without a bra on, unless you’re a man in which case you’d better take it off before driving. According to a policeman friend of mine, the overwhelming majority of high-speed car chases end in the suspect being pulled over and arrested for evading, only to find that the man is in fact a respected member of the community who happens to be dressed in his wife’s clothes and makeup. Guess what? Now you’re in jail dressed in your wife’s clothes and makeup. That’s going to be a whole other tragedy when they finish with you.