The following excerpt is from a column on the word “tacky” that originated on It’s a Southern Thing. The link at the bottom takes you to the full column.
You know that scene in the parody film “Serial Mom” where she kills someone for wearing white shoes after Labor Day? Remember when you knew people who might actually consider doing something like that? When I was younger, it was considered the height of tackiness to wear white after Labor Day.
You were also “tacky” if your slip or bra straps peeked from under your church dress. If you wore pajamas to a store. If your roots showed. Now, women don’t wear slips, bras are considered outerwear, it’s fashionable for roots to show and no one cares what colors or types of clothes you wear as long as you cover your (whisper) privates.
In other words, the whole world is off its nut … but that’s a story for another day. This story is about the word “tacky” and why we Southerners love it. I’m including a little PSA at the end on how to properly use “tacky” in case any of your northern relatives need pointers. No need to thank me. Just doing my job.
Use of the word “tacky” to mean gaudy began in the South, although its usage has since crept into other regions. So how did a word that refers to stickiness come to mean something that is gaudy or garish or lacking in taste? It likely originated with a breed of horse. Click here to read the full column.