Folk Beliefs

Lucky Red Shirts

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“So whenever I have to dress up formally for a competition or a recital or an interview I’ll always wear my lucky red dress shirt. It’s something I’ve done since probably middle school. I always get a different red shirt, but it has to be red which is my favorite color. Whatever I do it gives me that luck that I need to do well to do whatever I need to do that day.”

It seems like the color red instills confidence in this informant. Interestingly, he is Chinese American. Many Chinese see red as a lucky color. Perhaps this is doubly so for him as it is his favorite color. Having lucky items of clothing seems quite common. This informant differs from the norm of having a lucky item of clothing in that he does not have one lucky red shirt, but derives luck from red dress shirts in general. In this case, red dress shirts are less like a lucky item, but closer to a symbol he derives strength from.

While not religious, the red dress shirt is somewhat analogous to the Christian cross. Those of the Christian faith gain strength and feel protected by crosses, they feel the presence of God when they see symbols of their religion. They feel this way not only about all crosses of their religion, not just about one specific cross. Similarly, my informant feels lucky and successful from the symbolic power of a red dress shirt, not just one specific red dress shirt.

Furthermore, the fact that he wears a dress shirt may affect his confidence. Many people claim to feel more confident and assertive when dressed professionally.

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