When one thinks of white, they think of ‘purity’, ‘minimalism’ and ‘simplicity’. Maybe those three words were amongst the very, very few that whizzed through Chris Brown’s raisin-sized brain when the time came to pick a suit for the Grammy’s last week.
Perhaps the choice of a white suit was that of a well-meaning stylist who wondered, “How do I make a convicted woman-beater with a gold tooth and a shaved head and a bad attitude look like he’s rehabilitated himself without having to do anything as gross or potentially sticky as actual rehabilitation?”
White is an expression of purity and innocence – that’s why brides wear it on their wedding day, regardless of the location of their virginity. But, as Chris Brown has adeptly proven, white has nothing to do with either of these things in 2013. If you wear white this spring, it’s not a declaration of your good intentions, it’s a declaration to the world that you want to be nice and clean. You want to slough off all the specks of moral dirt that cling to your person. Wash off the Magdalen laundries, the economy, the horse burgers, the inequalities, the corruption and emerge a fresh, new entity – on the outside, at least.
The fashion Powers That Be have decreed that, this year, there is to be no girly floral print or sugar-substitute-sweet pastel trend. Instead, we have black, we have leopard print (which can definitely be considered a neutral) and we have white. Sometimes, we have a combination of two or all three worn together. Then again, we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves.
Wandering through the massive, glass-encased cube that is the Stephen’s Green Warehouse the other day, I was struck not only by the sheer amount of white (which was, in places, also quite sheer), but also the many ways in which it can be worn. On a dress with a tulle cut-out overlay, it’s almost bridal, on a sleeveless sports jacket it’s no-nonsense, on a pair of trousers it’s high maintenance to the nth degree.
Irish women, as a rule, tend not to wear white. It stains easily and we are very messy. White elevates a person above the ordinary and, in general, the collective self-esteem of Irish women has always been far too low to let ourselves be lifted beyond the pale (or grey, or black). Like Dave Franco, white is just plain out of our leagues.
Now, however, the winds have changed. I don’t know if it’s because we have better detergent or are more empowered or what, but we are slowly coming around to the fact that maybe, just maybe, we could be something other than good for a forty degree wash.
Irish women tend to be quite facilitating. Maybe it’s the Irish Mammies stereotype, but we tend to love to make things easier for other people before we make them easier for ourselves. White is the perfect antidote. It says, “I can’t go out and get the coal right now, I’m far too cool and elusive a being for such banal tasks”.
We deserve to make ourselves special. White is only one way forward.