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by Abigail Van Buren

Black Is Becoming Basic for Guests at Weddings

DEAR ABBY: Re the letter about wearing black at weddings: I am a professional pianist/organist who has played for numerous weddings.

Last winter, I was asked to play for a large wedding. I chose a black dress with a fancy sequined jacket. Before the wedding, I dropped by to visit my 90-year-old mother, who questioned my black dress. I assured her that black was now appropriate.

My house was on the way to the church, and taking my mother's comments into consideration, I decided to change into a rose-colored dress. When I walked into the church, you guessed it -- I was greeted by a sea of black. The groomsmen all wore black tuxes, the bridesmaids had long black dresses, and even the singers I was to accompany were dressed in black.

For a moment, I wanted to dash back home and change again, but I didn't. I just smiled at the irony. -- CHARLOTTE IN LAS CRUCES, N.M.

DEAR CHARLOTTE: I hadn't realized that so many women now wear black to weddings that the few who don't have become "standouts." Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In response to the woman whose mother thought wearing black to a wedding was taboo: That mom has obviously never been to a New York wedding, where wearing black is practically a requirement. My husband's family lives there, and at a recent wedding with more than 100 guests, I was one of only six women NOT wearing black. (Two of my three sisters-in-law had their bridesmaids wear black.) -- COLORFUL IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR COLORFUL: Interesting. However, let's be clear to all my readers. Nowhere is it written that black MUST be worn to a wedding -- unless the bride requests it.

DEAR ABBY: While wearing black may, indeed, be considered "classy" and "tasteful" by many women today, I personally find the trend depressing.

The last wedding I attended, only about five of us wore something other than black. When I looked out at the couples on the dance floor, it reminded me of television clips I had seen of the crowds in the Middle East. I have told my friends repeatedly, "We are not nuns, we are not Amish and we are not oppressed women! We have the freedom to wear and enjoy beautiful, joyful colors!" This is especially true at weddings, which should be happy occasions.

And by the way, to those ladies who shop so carefully to find just the right black dress -- once you enter a room full of other black dresses, you're just another grain of sand on the seashore.

Whoever believes the myth that black dresses make one look slim -- guess again. Sorry, girls, if you're fat, you're fat -- that black dress isn't fooling anyone. -- LOVES COLOR IN OHIO

DEAR LOVES COLOR: The old saying that color evokes emotion must be true, because from the tone of your letter it's clear you're seeing red. Please remember that what people wear isn't as important as how they feel in it. (It would be interesting to know what women in the Middle East would wear if their governments allowed them the choice we enjoy in this country -- may I live to see the day!)

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY READERS: Farewell to 2002 -- and what a year this has been! Let's all say a prayer for world peace, and for our stalwart members of the military who are far from their loved ones today. It takes only a moment to send greetings to our troops stationed around the globe. Simply e-mail them at and wish them a Happy New Year. And to each of you, a happy, healthy 2003.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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