Here in the South, white after Labor Day is strictly forbidden. No white dresses, no white jackets, absolutely no white jeans, and don’t even think about white shoes. Breaking the rule is as much a social faux-pau as not drinking sweet tea. As a result, in this last week before Labor Day, that dreaded end to summer, many of my friends have been cramming in as much white as their wardrobe has to offer; frantically wearing those white jeans one last time or sporting that white tunic only to stow it away in the back of the closet on that fateful Monday. But…why? Who said that we can’t wear white after Labor Day?
After a quick Google search and a bit of brief research, I discovered no one person is particularly responsible for the white can’t be worn after Labor Day rule. In fact, experts can only speculate how this rule came to be. According to Time U.S. magazine, there are several different theories about the origin of no white after Labor Day. Some believe that it was once a practice based on practicality that slowly became ingrained into societal etiquette; white was cooler, and since no one had air conditioning, white was obviously the color of choice in the blistering summer months. In big cities, white kept fashionistas cool during the summer while in the winter darker colors kept them warm and dirt and grime from city life hidden. Other experts don’t buy this practical explanation for the rule and instead reason that no white after Labor Day was a sign of wealth and status. The wealthy could vacation away from the bustling city life and therefore wore white clothes that could only be kept clean in the leisure of extravagant vacations. As a result, white became a sign of status and having enough money to spend your days at leisure.
No matter the explanation for the rule, it has become ingrained into our culture in many ways. However, fashion icons have strongly opposed this rule from the beginning. Coco Chanel, for one (but do we really need another?), featured white in all their collections no matter the season. I guess I must say, if white after Labor Day is good enough for Coco Chanel, it is good enough for me. Check out these awesome fall outfits featuring the forbidden fall color.
As we head into fall, I am going to put away my flowy white sundresses and probably even my favorite white shorts, but I think these fun and fabulous outfits are absolute proof that white can transition easily into fall. As seen in these examples, choosing white pieces in a a sturdier fabric (denim, sweaters, blazers, tunics etc) and layering are key to making white work in cooler weather. Armed with this new knowledge, I hope you can go forward into fall with your favorite white clothes in hand!