IS it okay to wear WHITE After Labor Day?
Sep 01, 2013 11:29PM
The myth that white shouldn’t be worn after Labor Day has prevailed for years and years. At the end of summer, conventional fashion wisdom states that white clothing should be packed away, only to return come Memorial Day. Although many etiquette experts have been queried, there is no firm justification as to why the white moratorium is set into place each and every Labor Day. Some surmise this fashion “rule” dates back to the early 20th century.
One common explanation has to do with the availability of air conditioning and methods to keeping cool. In the 20th century, wardrobes were not as casual as they are today. People wore what many would now consider formal clothing. So instead of donning a pair of shorts and a tank top, men and women would wear white and light-colored clothing that was lighter in weight. This was done in an effort to keep cool during the heat of summer. After Labor Day, when summer gave way to fall, wearing light fabrics would leave people too chilly, so people cast aside white for darker, heavier fabrics.
Furthermore, most of the fashion trendsetters were based in northern, urban climates like New York City, where fashion editors were exposed to each of the seasons. Therefore, in the pages of the leading fashion magazines, trends were set based on the changing of the climates. Should the fashion rules have been dictated from Miami or Houston, white clothing might have remained perfectly acceptable long after Labor Day.
Other historians speculate that the white rule had more to do with social class than fashion. White clothing was associated with the upper-class, who had enough disposable income to change clothing styles and jet-set to vacation haunts. In an effort to assimilate, some lower-class people would emulate the well-to-do by wearing white and light-colored clothing. Rules were established by those in the know that white was eschewed after Labor Day. The insiders would help keep the social climbers out by establishing the guidelines in their social sects.
Others scoff at these assumptions but can’t quite put a finger on where the etiquette regarding white clothing after Labor Day originated. But rules were made to be broken, and today many people no longer adhere to traditional rules of fashion, including the one suggesting wearing white after Labor Day is a faux pas. In fact, many fashion trendsetters have embraced wearing white after Labor Day, much as fashion maven Coco Chanel was known to wear white suits year-round in the 1920s.
Naturally, brides who get married in October, November and into the winter months, have been wearing white after Labor Day for decades; with no ill effects.
Wear what you want. Go ahead and brighten up the grey winter months with bright white winter apparel including sweaters, white boots, and winter white peacoats.