South Florida Fashion Decoded
After being a South Floridian for four years now, I am beginning to understand some of the fashion peculiarities of the region. I’m not talking about Palm Beach society fashion; that is the stuff of legends and glossy magazines. I’m talking about what normal people really wear down here.
The rules seem a lot different than they were up north. Some of that is simply that the rules have relaxed everywhere, but South Florida is more relaxed than anywhere is. We all know it’s now okay to wear black to weddings, and colors other than black to funerals, no matter where you live. But here in SOFL, we have some special rules all our own.
The fashion attitude of South Florida is easily summed up by this story. I was in the Macy’s dressing room trying on a low-cut dress with a halter-top. I asked my dressing-room companion what she thought about it. Her answer was simple. “It’s summer in South Florida, honey. Go for it.”
So here are the rules, at least as much as I have been able to figure out.
Rule 1. The Little Black Dress (LBD) is appropriate for any situation. As long as you have the right accessories, you can wear your LBD to the office, to a party, to a nightclub or to the beach.
Rule 2. Cool weather clothes such as boots, hats, sweaters, faux fur and scarves are fashion accessories to be worn on any occasion, regardless of weather. It is perfectly okay to wear a scarf with a sundress, or boots with shorts and a wooly hat. During the five days of cool weather each year, you can wear all your cool weather clothes with pants and long sleeves. The other 360 days of the year, you can consider them funky, ironic or a fun splash of color and texture.
Rule 3. While it is inappropriate to wear your bathing suit without a breezy cover-up anywhere except the beach, in the heat of summer your halter-top can look an awful lot like a bathing suit top.
Rule 4. The length of your dress or skirt does not dictate its level of formality. Niether does its fabric. Satin and lace are not reserved for formal wear.
Rule 5. It is perfectly acceptable for women to wear halter-tops, strapless tops and braless tops regardless of their age or weight.
Rule 6. The right women’s shorts can be part of a classy formal business outfit. Men’s shorts only work for business casual.
Rule 7. There is no time or place where open-toed shoes are not appropriate.
Rule 8. Every woman must own at least one pair of white pants. These are worn at any time throughout the year, and as often as possible, even though they are unflattering to many women.
Rule 9. There are at least twenty beaches and resorts in Florida where social nudity is the norm. That’s more than in most other states. This offers a whole other fashion option for those who dare.