All my life I’ve heard you should not wear white after Labor Day. And I’ve often wondered who made up that rule anyway.
One common explanation is practical. For centuries, wearing white in the summer was a way to stay cool, especially if you lived in hot and humid climates. There was no air-conditioning and people dressed more formally; no T-shirts and halter tops were worn in public.
Some historians speculate the origin of the no-white-after–Labor Day rule may be symbolic. In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of choice for Americans well-to-do enough leave their city homes for summer vacations at the beach or in the mountains and light clothing was a nice contrast to a drab urban life.
Labor Day, celebrated in the U.S. on the first Monday of September, marked the traditional end of summer. It’s when well-heeled vacationers would pack away their summer clothing and return to the city and their darker-colored fall clothing.
This from Time Magazine: “By the 1950s, as the middle class expanded, the custom had calcified into a hard-and-fast rule. Along with a slew of commands about salad plates and fish forks, the no-whites dictum provided old-money élites with a bulwark against the upwardly mobile. But such mores were propagated by aspirants too: those savvy enough to learn all the rules increased their odds of earning a ticket into polite society. "It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out," says Steele, "and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules."
Whatever its origin, the Labor Day rule has perennially met with resistance from high-fashion quarters. As far back as the 1920s, Coco Chanel made white a year-round staple. "It was a permanent part of her wardrobe," says Bronwyn Cosgrave, author of The Complete History of Costume & Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. The trend is embraced with equal vigor by today's fashion élites, Cosgrave notes — from Marion Cotillard accepting her 2008 Academy Award in a mermaid-inspired cream dress to Michelle Obama dancing the inaugural balls away in a snowy floor-length gown. Fashion rules are meant to be broken by those who can pull it off, notes Cosgrave, and white "looks really fresh when people aren't expecting it."
|No white shoes for me, but I say if you have them and like them, then wear them!|
|A nice white shirt is definitely a wardrobe staple. Surely the fashion police don't include a cotton number such as this in their edict against wearing white after Labor Day?|
I don’t own a pair of white shoes and never will. Just a personal thing with me; hate white shoes. And definitely no white handbag in fall. But I do own and love white denim jeans. I wore them last fall and winter and will do so again. My white skirts? Not the linen one, but the thicker one perhaps. Yes to the white cotton tees, and we all know a white cotton shirt, freshly starched and ironed is perfect for any occasion any time of the year.
If white was good enough year round for Coco Chanel, who am I to disagree?
What about you? Do you stick to the hard-and-fast rule of no white after Labor Day?