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Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day?

30-08-2021 · The "you can't wear white after Labor Day" rule was reportedly created to separate the old money elitists from the new money group. As more people became millionaires, it was difficult to distinguish between respectable old money families and those considered new money. By the 1880s, to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create ...

30-08-2021

THE end of summer is slowly approaching as Americans get ready for Labor Day weekend.

However, as the three-day weekend arrives this week, so too does an odd century-old arbitrary dress code "no wearing white after Labor Day."

This year Labor Day lands on September 6
This year Labor Day lands on September 6Credit: Getty

The "you can't wear white after Labor Day" rule was reportedly created to separate the old money elitists from the new money group.

As more people became millionaires, it was difficult to distinguish between respectable old money families and those considered new money.

By the 1880s, to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow.

"It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out," Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told Time in 2009, "and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules."

White was considered vacation attire for people who had money and could leave the city during warmer months.

"If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion, told the outlet.

Meanwhile, white linen suits and Panama hats were considered the "look of leisure."

However, many dispute the class theory, claiming "people want to attribute everything in etiquette to snobbery."

"There are always people who want to attribute everything in etiquette to snobbery," Judith Martin told Time.

"There were many little rules that people did dream up in order to annoy those from whom they wished to disassociate themselves. But I do not believe this is one of them."

Nevertheless, another belief is as Labor Day marks the end of summer, many vacationers may begin to pack away their white clothing in favor of darker colors.

"There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry," explained Steele.

"You're back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you're doing in the fall - and so you have a new wardrobe."

Regardless of how the rule really came about, no one in the 21st century follows the more than century-old practice.

With the arrival of Labor Day, so too does the strange century-old arbitrary dress code 'no wearing white after Labor Day'
With the arrival of Labor Day, so too does the strange century-old arbitrary dress code 'no wearing white after Labor Day'Credit: Getty
Why Americans Don’t Wear White after Labor Day

Why Americans Don’t Wear White after Labor Day September 01, 2019 FILE - Guests wearing white clothing sit down to a pop-up dinner at New York's Lincoln Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.

This Monday is Labor Day in the United States – a holiday linked to workers’ rights and wearing white.

That may sound strange, but it is true. Many Americans put away their white clothes on Labor Day and do not wear them again until the following May, after Memorial Day.

One reason for the clothing custom relates to the season. In the United States, the months between June and September are summer. The weather is usually hot, including in Northeast cities like Boston, Massachusetts and New York, New York. Many people there historically wore light-colored clothing in the summertime to keep cool.

Judith Martin is an expert on manners – in other words, on how to behave politely. She spoke to Time Magazine about the history of wearing white in the summer. She said Americans in the 1800s and early 1900s wore formal clothes all year long. Wearing white clothes in the summertime may have felt more comfortable because “white is of a lighter weight,” Martin said.

Then, in about the 1930s, wearing white clothes in the summertime became fashionable, too. That is because some wealthy Americans in Northeast cities went on vacation for weeks or months in the summer. They stayed in costly hotels or summerhouses. The white clothes they wore there became linked to ease, beauty and money. But at the end of summer, around Labor Day, they put those white clothes away and returned to their lives in the city – as well as to their darker, heavier clothes.

In time, not wearing white after Labor Day became a bit of a fashion rule. Following it showed that you were wealthy -- or at least that you knew how to act like you were.

Today’s fashion magazines, however, advise readers to ignore the rule. They point to Coco Chanel, Kim Kardashian and Michelle Obama, who have appeared in white in all seasons.

But you may want to be careful about wearing white to an American-style Labor Day barbecue. The trouble is not fashion – it is ketchup. If it spills, the popular red tomato sauce can ruin a nice set of clothes.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English with reports from Reuters and Time. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

_____________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

comfortable - adj. not having any physically unpleasant feelings : experiencing physical comfort

fashion - n. a popular way of dressing during a particular time or among a particular group of people

Why You Can't Wear White After Labor Day

Why We Can't Wear White After Labor Day. By Laura Fitzpatrick Updated: August 29, 2019 10:14 AM ET | Originally published: September 8, 2009 9:36 AM EDT T he post–Labor ...

The post–Labor Day moratorium on white clothing and accessories has long ranked among etiquette hard-liners’ most sacred rules. As punishment for breaking it in the 1994 movie Serial Mom, for instance, Patty Hearst‘s character was murdered by a punctilious psychopath. But ask your average etiquette expert how that rule came to be, and chances are that even she couldn’t explain it. So why aren’t we supposed to wear white after Labor Day?

One common explanation is practical. For centuries, wearing white in the summer was simply a way to stay cool — like changing your dinner menu or putting slipcovers on the furniture. “Not only was there no air-conditioning, but people did not go around in T shirts and halter tops. They wore what we would now consider fairly formal clothes,” says Judith Martin, better known as etiquette columnist Miss Manners. “And white is of a lighter weight.”

But beating the heat became fashionable in the early to mid-20th century, says Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion. “All the magazines and tastemakers were centered in big cities, usually in northern climates that had seasons,” he notes. In the hot summer months, white clothing kept New York fashion editors cool. But facing, say, heavy fall rain, they might not have been inclined to risk sullying white ensembles with mud — and that sensibility was reflected in the glossy pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, which set the tone for the country.

This is all sound logic, to be sure — but that’s exactly why it may be wrong. “Very rarely is there actually a functional reason for a fashion rule,” notes Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. True enough: it’s hard to think of a workaday downside to pairing your black shoes with a brown belt.

Instead, other 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 to decamp from their city digs to warmer climes for months at a time: light summer clothing provided a pleasing contrast to drabber urban life. “If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you’ll see people in dark clothes,” says Scheips, many scurrying to their jobs. By contrast, he adds, the white linen suits and Panama hats at snooty resorts were “a look of leisure.”

Labor Day, celebrated in the U.S. on the first Monday of September, marked the traditional end of summer; the well-heeled vacationers would stow their summer duds and dust off their heavier, darker-colored fall clothing. “There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry,” says Steele. “You’re back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you’re doing in the fall — and so you have a new wardrobe.”

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.”

Some etiquette buffs don’t buy this explanation, however. “There are always people who want to attribute everything in etiquette to snobbery,” protests Martin. “There were many little rules that people did dream up in order to annoy those from whom they wished to disassociate themselves. But I do not believe this is one of them.”

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.”

Much to the chagrin of sartorial purists, that skepticism of the Labor Day law has seeped into mainstream America. From 1960s counterculture to the present day — when would-be fashionistas get as many ideas from blogs and friends as from magazines and Fashion Week — more people than ever are breaking the rule. Even the 2004 manners bible, Emily Post’s Etiquette, 17th Edition, gives the go-ahead for wearing white after Labor Day. Which may explain why some who abide by the custom themselves are now willing to compromise. Scheips, for one, “would never be caught dead wearing a white suit after Labor Day.” But neither does he completely write off those who do. “I’m sure the Queen of England at Christmastime puts on white ermine once in a while. So if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for everybody else, right?” he says. “You don’t have to be a fascist about it.”

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    If you’re planning to spend your Labor Day enjoying a well-earned day off work, congratulations! Loving the barbecues, parades, weekend getaways, and Labor Day memes, but wondering what is Labor Day? Well, that day off is exactly what the workers and unions of the past fought for, along with reasonable working hours, days off, safety regulations, and minimum wage. During the coronavirus pandemic, many previously underappreciated workers were deemed “essential,” especially in lower-wage industries. Labor Day isn’t just summer’s last hurrah, it’s also the day to appreciate and value all workers without whom our lives would be a much messier place. After all, it’s the contributions of workers and laborers in every industry who made the United States what it is today, and what it will be in the future. That sounds like a good excuse to put up some Labor Day decorations! Or, if you prefer to celebrate in style, perhaps check out some Labor Day sales. Speaking of style, the “no white after Labor Day” rule might have you thinking twice before putting any white clothing items in your cart. But why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? And does this rule still apply to 21st-century workers? Turns out, no one is entirely sure where this fashion decree came from, but there are a few different theories.

    If you’re wealthy, no white after Labor Day!

    The old-fashioned decree bans us from wearing white during the winter and spring, from Labor Day in September until May Day (strangely, another day designated to celebrate workers’ rights!). One popular theory dates back to the early 1900s. Many progressive changes were occurring for American women, like the election of the first woman to Congress and the passing of the 19th amendment that meant women could finally vote. Despite these advances, social acceptance for wealthy women was still very much based on what you wore—and when you wore it. So why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Well, if you were on-trend you only wore white during the warmer months, when you left the grimy city to take your fabulous vacation. Light-colored clothing keeps you cooler and looks much better on a yacht, or in the clear sunshine on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Being able to afford a whole new wardrobe for different seasons was a huge status marker for the wealthiest families. It was also a helpful way to separate the nouveau riche from the old money, by creating semi-arbitrary rules about what to wear, where, and when that only those in the know knew to follow. For the wealthy and stylish, this is what fashion looked like 100 years ago.

    Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Dirt!

    Another theory that answers the question why can’t you wear white after Labor Day notes that white is harder to keep clean in the fall and winter: mud, dirt, leaves, snow, that gross snow that somehow develops after a couple of days… yuck! Of course, for the coordination-challenged, white is hard to keep clean all year round, but back in the day when pollution was even more unchecked and rainfall might bring soot down with it, white would have been one of the higher-maintenance clothing colors. Additionally, most fashion designers were based in the northeast, and especially in New York City, which suffers through four seasons each year. Even if you lived in New Orleans, you still took your style cues and tips from Fashion Avenue, so for the trendiest dressers white was out, despite its cooling benefits.

    By the 1950s, women’s magazines started making this “no white after Labor Day” ordinance a little more public, basically making the proclamation official. Wearing white only between Memorial Day and Labor Day now signified being part of the in-the-know fashion club. But doesn’t it also just makes sense to us on some basic, weather-based level? Labor Day marks the end of summer when you pack up your breezy white sundresses and get out your fall and winter wool. It’s a transition point, marking the changing temperature and the return to school, work, and regular life that autumn brings.

    It’s 2021, so the answer to “Can you wear white after Labor Day” is yes: You can absolutely wear white after Labor Day if you want! Better yet, there’s a historical precedent for your trend-thwarting ways: Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself, who insisted on swanning around in her bright, white outfits year-round. So stylish.

    If you need some shopping inspiration, these white pieces can be worn before, during, and after your Labor Day barbecue. So long, summer!

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    Originally Published: June 01, 2021

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06-09-2021 · Why Can't You Wear White After Labor Day? Truthfully, there is nothing to stop you wearing whatever you want, whenever you want but there are a couple of theories as to wear the sartorial rule ...

06-09-2021

While Labor Day might be a federal holiday to celebrate American employees, it also marks an important date in the sartorial calendar.

As the age old adage goes, Labor Day marks the last day in the calendar year that fashionistas should don white.

But where does the rule come from, and can you really not wear white after Labor Day?

Why Can't You Wear White After Labor Day?

Truthfully, there is nothing to stop you wearing whatever you want, whenever you want but there are a couple of theories as to wear the sartorial rule comes from.

The first is to do with practicality.

As Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, it marked the end of the traditional summer and beginning of autumn.

In the early to mid-20th Century, with no air-conditioning, wearing white was an easy way to keep cool, swapping these lighter clothes for fabrics with darker hues as the temperature began to chill.

Guests wear white to Tibi's NYFW show
Three guests, two wearing white after Labor Day, attend Tibi's New York Fashion Week show on September 8, 2019. Christian Vierig/Getty Images

"All the magazines and tastemakers were centered in big cities, usually in northern climates that had seasons," author of American Fashion, Charlie Scheips told Time.

These fashion editors may not have found white as practical during autumnal weather when their clothes could easily get muddy in the rain.

The "no white" rule is also thought to have punctuated the seasonal wardrobes of middle class vacationers who would leave the humid climes of big cities for the summer.

Swapping to whites, including linen suits, was considered vacation attire for tourists.

Returning back to the city in darker hues could have been seen as a mark of "re-entry" as Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told the magazine.

"You're back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you're doing in the fall—and so you have a new wardrobe," she said.

Steele also believes there may have been classism at play in reinforcing the rule in the 1950s helping to separate old money elites from the nouveau riche as social mobility led to an increase in the middle class population, though not all historians agree on this.

"It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules," Steele said.

Can I Wear White After Labor Day?

There is no real reason in 2021 for the rule to be observed, regardless of its history.

Plenty of celebrities, including those that are frequently praised for their personal style, have been spotted wearing white after Labor Day.

Kourtney Kardashian and Addison Rae
Kourtney Kardashian wears a white satin shirt dress after Labor Day to go out with Addison Rae in New York, October 2020 Gotham/Getty Images

In October 2020, Kourtney Kardashian was photographed in a white satin shirt dress while heading out with friend and TikTok star Addison Rae.

While filming Younger in New York last November, Hilary Duff was spotted wearing a white ensemble underneath a chunky sage green cardigan.

Hilary Duff wears a white dress
Olivia Wilde wears a white dress

Actress Olivia Wilde wore white on the red carpet in the same month, and singer Ella Mai wore a playful white feathered dress to perform at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.

Plenty of other fashionistas have also been spotted wearing white to attend fashion shows during New York Fashion Week in September, with many shows taking place after Labor Day.

Ella Mai performs in a white dress
Singer Ella Mai performs at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve in a white feathered dress. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
The History Behind the 'No White After Labor Day' Rule ...

Since Labor Day typically represents the end of summer, a 'rule' was established that you shouldn't wear white after Labor Day if you didn't have the money to take fall and winter vacations. It was also used as a way to identify those who needed to work and those who didn't. Those who didn't have to work could wear white because it wouldn't get ...

I've been living in light-colored sundresses and rompers all summer long, but with Labor Day approaching, I've been thinking about packing away my white attire. I've always heard that you should not wear white after Labor Day but I've never heard a convincing explanation for the rule. So ahead of the late summer holiday, I did some digging—and decided my white clothes and shoes will be staying in my closet year-round. 

person in white dress and shoes walking on wooden dock near ocean

The tradition began back in the 1800s, and its origins are a little cringe-worthy. As Marie Claire reports, the rule was invented in the nineteenth century by an elite group as a way to use fashion to separate those with money from those without. When the summer months were over, affluent residents would leave the city for warmer vacation spots. Wearing white represented that you could afford to get out of the city and vacation elsewhere when summer ended. 

Since Labor Day typically represents the end of summer, a 'rule' was established that you shouldn't wear white after Labor Day if you didn't have the money to take fall and winter vacations. 

It was also used as a way to identify those who needed to work and those who didn't. Those who didn't have to work could wear white because it wouldn't get dirty, while those working would wear dark clothing to hide the dirt they'd pick up working or walking through the city.

Related: Transitioning Clothing and Outerwear for the Season

So while you may have grown up hearing about this outdated tradition, there's really no reason you shouldn't wear whatever you please before and after Labor Day.

The History of the No-White-After-Labor-Day Rule ...

Why not wear white after Labor Day? And then there's the idea that it arose out of pure snobbery. In the early 20th century, Americans who set the fashion trends were the same ones who could afford to depart the cities for the summer months. Safe in the county, far away from the urban grime, they wore white simply because they could.

And, more importantly, why it no longer applies.

For a lot of women, Labor Day isn't only about saying goodbye to summer, but an entire section of our wardrobes.

For generations, we've subscribed to the old adage that wearing white after Labor Day is a fashion faux pas up there with wearing socks with sandals.  But why? And more importantly, does it still apply?

There are a few theories about the origin of this strange rule. A Time article from 2009 suggests that it might have been born out of function. Before the days of air conditioning, white attire was cooler to wear in the dog days of summer because it reflects the sun.

And then there's the idea that it arose out of pure snobbery. In the early 20th century, Americans who set the fashion trends were the same ones who could afford to depart the cities for the summer months. Safe in the county, far away from the urban grime, they wore white simply because they could. Keep in mind that nobody in their right mind wore white in the city back then—it was far too dirty. "If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion told Time. White clothes, on the other hand, were "a look of leisure."

Labor Day traditionally marks the end of the summer, which, for the well-heeled, meant returning to the city and forgoing their white country clothes.

By the 1950s, this thinking had trickled down to the middle class, and with help from women's magazines, it was accepted that white wasn't appropriate past Labor Day. But that's not to say that everyone agreed. Coco Chanel, for example, famously wore white year-round.

Fortunately, fashion rules have become considerably more relaxed, and these days, tastemakers agree that you should wear white every day of the year if you want to.

So, there you have it. Consider the ban on white after Labor Day officially ended!

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Why You Can't Wear White After Labor Day

01-06-2021 · So why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Well, if you were on-trend you only wore white during the warmer months, when you left the grimy city to take your fabulous vacation. Light-colored ...

01-06-2021

If you’re planning to spend your Labor Day enjoying a well-earned day off work, congratulations! Loving the barbecues, parades, weekend getaways, and Labor Day memes, but wondering what is Labor Day? Well, that day off is exactly what the workers and unions of the past fought for, along with reasonable working hours, days off, safety regulations, and minimum wage. During the coronavirus pandemic, many previously underappreciated workers were deemed “essential,” especially in lower-wage industries. Labor Day isn’t just summer’s last hurrah, it’s also the day to appreciate and value all workers without whom our lives would be a much messier place. After all, it’s the contributions of workers and laborers in every industry who made the United States what it is today, and what it will be in the future. That sounds like a good excuse to put up some Labor Day decorations! Or, if you prefer to celebrate in style, perhaps check out some Labor Day sales. Speaking of style, the “no white after Labor Day” rule might have you thinking twice before putting any white clothing items in your cart. But why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? And does this rule still apply to 21st-century workers? Turns out, no one is entirely sure where this fashion decree came from, but there are a few different theories.

If you’re wealthy, no white after Labor Day!

The old-fashioned decree bans us from wearing white during the winter and spring, from Labor Day in September until May Day (strangely, another day designated to celebrate workers’ rights!). One popular theory dates back to the early 1900s. Many progressive changes were occurring for American women, like the election of the first woman to Congress and the passing of the 19th amendment that meant women could finally vote. Despite these advances, social acceptance for wealthy women was still very much based on what you wore—and when you wore it. So why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Well, if you were on-trend you only wore white during the warmer months, when you left the grimy city to take your fabulous vacation. Light-colored clothing keeps you cooler and looks much better on a yacht, or in the clear sunshine on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Being able to afford a whole new wardrobe for different seasons was a huge status marker for the wealthiest families. It was also a helpful way to separate the nouveau riche from the old money, by creating semi-arbitrary rules about what to wear, where, and when that only those in the know knew to follow. For the wealthy and stylish, this is what fashion looked like 100 years ago.

Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Dirt!

Another theory that answers the question why can’t you wear white after Labor Day notes that white is harder to keep clean in the fall and winter: mud, dirt, leaves, snow, that gross snow that somehow develops after a couple of days… yuck! Of course, for the coordination-challenged, white is hard to keep clean all year round, but back in the day when pollution was even more unchecked and rainfall might bring soot down with it, white would have been one of the higher-maintenance clothing colors. Additionally, most fashion designers were based in the northeast, and especially in New York City, which suffers through four seasons each year. Even if you lived in New Orleans, you still took your style cues and tips from Fashion Avenue, so for the trendiest dressers white was out, despite its cooling benefits.

By the 1950s, women’s magazines started making this “no white after Labor Day” ordinance a little more public, basically making the proclamation official. Wearing white only between Memorial Day and Labor Day now signified being part of the in-the-know fashion club. But doesn’t it also just makes sense to us on some basic, weather-based level? Labor Day marks the end of summer when you pack up your breezy white sundresses and get out your fall and winter wool. It’s a transition point, marking the changing temperature and the return to school, work, and regular life that autumn brings.

It’s 2021, so the answer to “Can you wear white after Labor Day” is yes: You can absolutely wear white after Labor Day if you want! Better yet, there’s a historical precedent for your trend-thwarting ways: Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself, who insisted on swanning around in her bright, white outfits year-round. So stylish.

If you need some shopping inspiration, these white pieces can be worn before, during, and after your Labor Day barbecue. So long, summer!

Best Summer Hats For Outdoorsrd.com, via retailers (4)
Nordstrom Sandals And Shoesvia nordstrom.com (4)
collage of swimsuit Cover Ups for the summervia hatattack.com, via shop.dia.com, via amazon.com

Originally Published: June 01, 2021

No White After Labor Day? But Why?

19-08-2019 · Labor Day is just about here, and if you’re one to follow fashion traditions, then you know that you’re not supposed to wear white after the holiday weekend is over. But why not, you might be wondering? Turns out, the reasons are not so black and white. White Clothing—A Sign of Wealth? The “Don’t Wear White After Labor Day” rule may have stemmed from practicality.

19-08-2019

Labor Day is just about here, and if you’re one to follow fashion traditions, then you know that you’re not supposed to wear white after the holiday weekend is over. But why not, you might be wondering? Turns out, the reasons are not so black and white.

White Clothing—A Sign of Wealth?

The “Don’t Wear White After Labor Day” rule may have stemmed from practicality. Prior to the advent of air conditioning, clothing choices were important when trying to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Whites and lighter-weight fabrics were more popular during the warm months, and in the winter, people naturally switched to darker colors and heavier fabrics. Perhaps since people already chose light colors to stay cool in the summer, the fashion world went ahead and made the rule an official one. Once Labor Day (the unofficial end of summer) arrived, it was time to retire those whites.

However, others speculate that the rule came from the fashion practices of the wealthy. In the early 1900s, those who were well-to-do often favored lightweight, bright clothing—white linen suits and breezy dresses. Wearing white after Labor Day meant you were someone who had the means to have end-of-summer vacations. Wearing your whites beyond Labor Day was just, well… showing off.

don't wear white after labor day
Wearing white was a sign of wealth.

Some historians believe that this rule was actually a way for the wealthy to separate themselves from the working class. Not only could they afford vacations—and the expensive clothes to match—but they didn’t do work that stained their white clothes. Middle-class laborers, on the other hand, often wore darker colors even in the summer to hide the dirt and grime that accumulated after a hard day’s work.

By the 1950s, not wearing white after Labor Day was a firm rule among the wealthy, who regarded it as a symbol of refinement. The “new money” types weren’t always as well-versed in the rules of etiquette and made these types of fashion faux pas. In fact, those who adopted the “no white after Labor Day” rule were often seen more favorably, as ambitious up-and-comers were willing to learn the rules surrounding their new social circle.

white after labor day

Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

As with most things in fashion, rules are meant to be broken. These days, there are plenty of people who happily wear white after Labor Day. Even fashionista Coco Chanel bucked this trend in the 1920s when she officially made white a permanent staple in her wardrobe, regardless of the season. Plenty of modern fashion elites wear white year-round, too.

While there are still those who consider post-Labor Day white clothing a no-no, plenty of fashion-forward people say if you have a flattering garment you love, wear it whenever you want, no matter the color and no matter the season. Good advice!

Why Can't You Wear White After Labor Day?

Can you wear white after Labor Day? Here's where the idea behind where "never wear white after Labor Day" came from. Learn more about the Labor Day …

Labor Day will be here before we know it, and while that's usually the signal that it's time for us to start packing away our cute crop tops and airy sundresses, it also poses a conundrum: Can we wear white after Labor Day? First of all, yes. Secondly, while wearing white after Labor Day is no longer taboo, it does stem from an old-school, classist mentality that dates back hundreds of years ago. Here's the history behind the dated fashion "rule" including where it came from, how it got started, and of course, why you can completely ignore it.

According to Boston-based stylist Erica Gattozzi, not wearing white after Labor Day is an arbitrary dress code that is ages old. "It was created to distinguish the old money elitist from the new money group in the 1800s after Labor Day was declared the end of summer," she explains.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, white was a symbol of your social class, as white clothes don’t cause you to sweat as much as darker-colored clothes in the summertime. Being able to afford lighter, airy clothes was a luxury. After that, light-colored, linen clothing became a sort of "look of leisure" and differentiated those who could afford to both stay cool and go on vacation from the working class.

However, when the Great Depression ended people were able to earn more money, those who previously may have been unable to indulge in white clothing jumped on the bandwagon, making the color much less polarizing.

According to Gattozzi, when it comes to style, "White is an easily translatable accent color that transitions well through seasons and layers with any color, pattern, or texture." Plus,  she says you can definitely continue to wear your favorite pair of white or off-white jeans in the fall in winter without overdoing it or looking too summery.

"Try pairing white jeans with ankle, over-the-knee, or knee-high boots to subdue the brightness of white pants or throwing an oversized turtleneck sweater or floppy cardigan in warm, earthy tones to capture the fall and winter essence with a splash of white," she says. Additionally, Gattozzi says that leather, suede, tweed, corduroy, and jean are all fabrics that pair well with white jeans or white tops without reverting the look to summer.

Basically, Gattozzi's expert advice is to wear whatever makes you feel good. And if that means keeping your favorite white pieces out for the entire year, so be it.

Why can't I wear white after Labor Day? It's a class thing

Why can't I wear white after Labor Day? It's a class thing Tue. September 7, 2021 11:28 AM by Gerald Farinas #Entertainment #National #Lifestyle. serial mom photo credit // youtube ...

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It was a way of drawing the line between the haves and have nots, the upper crust versus the hoi polloi

It has long been a fashion rule one might remember from the movie Serial Mom, "You can't wear white after Labor Day!"And quite many queers have followed suit.But where exactly did this fashion mandate come from?The answer is quite simple: It was a rule invented by the upper class societies of 19th century England and America.It was a way of drawing the line between the haves and have nots, the upper crust versus the hoi polloi.White is a popular color in the summer months as it helps keep one's self cool in the Midwestern heat and humidity.You might have seen me in my white tank top and shorts perusing the wine aisles of the Edgewater Whole Foods for a quick rose to go with my Popeye's fried chicken.And I've certainly seen many of you in your whitish chambray and eggshell linen or seersucker shirt covering up ... not much, really ... on your way to Hollywood Beach.But in the 1800s, before the magic of high temperature speed-agitating washing machines that tinkle a happy tune courtesy of Samsung and LG, keeping white clothing white was an immense effort. Working class folks dared not to wear white in the wetter, rainier, muddier, snowier months after Labor Day because cleaning those ensembles would be time consuming, and often costlier than cleaning up colors that could last a couple coats of dulling dirt and dust.The high and mighty who lived on N. State Parkway and N. Astor St. could afford the employ of housekeepers with giant paddles and muddlers hovering over large vats of hot water to beat out the filth from the whites.You and me, had we lived in those times, probably couldn't employ that kind of help.So we wore blue collars. And black shirts. And brown corduroy. And denim trousers that technically didn't have to be washed.The idea of coloration separating the haves from the have nots continued on into the 20th century. And here we are in the 21st century still talking about it.My suggestion: you and I have nice washers and dryers. Damn the rules. Go wear a white ensemble!

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Why Can't You Wear White After Labor Day? The Clothing ...

Here's why you shouldn't wear white after Labor Day. There are a few theories here, but they pretty much range from "it's kind of rich people's fault" to "it's all rich people's fault." Like most ...

We love to prohibit things, don't we? We prohibit people from swimming when there's a horny dolphin in the water, we prohibit people from feeding sharks by hand, and we even prohibit security guards from filming themselves farting at work for six months. On top of all that, you're not allowed to wear white after Labor Day. 

Even among the list above, that wearing white thing seems heinous, doesn't it? Wearing all white is a time-honored tradition of both brides and cult leaders. Why are we turning up our snooty snouts at it? Well, we'll tell you. They may not be good reasons, but there are reasons.

The good news, though, is that you're an adult, and you can wear whatever you want. 

Here's why you shouldn't wear white after Labor Day

There are a few theories here, but they pretty much range from "it's kind of rich people's fault" to "it's all rich people's fault." Like most things in life, to be honest.

First, think about the wearing white thing practically and historically. Before it was socially acceptable to wear a tank top and shorts even in a corporate office, folks wore formal clothing pretty much all the time -- and a whole lot of formal clothing. In the summer, wearing white was more practical since you had all those layers and frills on. Plus, if you were in a city (likely New York) and writing the magazines read all throughout America, wearing white in fall and risking mud and rain ruining your pure, pale ensemble was not a practical bet. Hence, you stopped wearing white once the warm weather left. 

This is just one theory, though, and some see it as too reasonable an explanation. Fashion, after all, is an insane parade based on the elitism and whims of tyrants with inexplicable authority. Anyway, according to this line of thought, the well-off Americans of the early 20th Century would flee Eastern cities (again, like New York) for warmer climes, and to really lean into that vacation vibe they work white, often linen.

Since Labor Day marked the de facto end of summer in the United States, this was an opportunity for those wealthy enough to vacation to mark their return to heavier, darker, city-oriented fall clothing. 

"There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry," Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, explained to Time. "You're back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you're doing in the fall -- and so you have a new wardrobe."

As the century progressed and the middle class grew, these rules were a way to mark the difference, at least in custom, between old money and new. The upwardly bound were more than willing to adhere to rules like this a way to assert their own belonging in the realm of forks of many sizes. 

Whichever of these accounts feels more convincing to you, it basically comes down to a blend of elitism and pragmatism based in an era that's long gone.

So, I can wear white after Labor Day, right?

For sure. If anyone gives you crap, tell them Coco Chanel did it.

h/tTime

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James Chrisman is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send news tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @james_chrisman2.

Why Aren't You 'Supposed to' Wear White Before Memorial Day?

23-05-2019 · It ' s almost Memorial Day, so congrats, you can wear white again—if you ever stopped.. There ' s an old fashion rule you ' ve probably heard before: You should only wear white after Memorial Day and before Labor Day. It dates all the way back to the 1900s, and it ' s a rule that people have a lot of strong feelings about today. Some people still follow it religiously, while a lot of others ...

23-05-2019

It's almost Memorial Day, so congrats, you can wear white again—if you ever stopped.

There's an old fashion rule you've probably heard before: You should only wear white after Memorial Day and before Labor Day. It dates all the way back to the 1900s, and it's a rule that people have a lot of strong feelings about today. Some people still follow it religiously, while a lot of others consider it done.

But where does it even come from? Stick around for a little history lesson.

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

(The Devil Wears Prada/20th Century Fox)

As with many things that happened in the past, there are different schools of thought on the origins of this fashion rule, as a 2009 Time magazine article details. Both start with one aspect in common, though: people being practical. In the 1900s, white clothes tended to be made from lighter-weight materials than darker ones, according to etiquette expert Judith Martin. That made it a cooler color than any other, especially when you consider that white also reflects light. With Memorial Day and Labor Day bookending North America's summer months, people likely started wearing more white between May and September to deal with heat.

Now, here is where the differences in theories emerge. One speculates that fashion editors were the ones who got the rule off the ground. Time points to an argument made by Charlie Scheips, the author of the book American Fashion. He noted that the bulk of fashion magazines were in areas such as New York that get hot and have less rain (and therefore mud) during the summer. As a result, the editors wore more white in the summer and switched back to dark colors in the fall. From them, the rule may have emerged and caught on.

The other explanation blames elitism. White was a popular color among the wealthy, as Time reports, and many of these privileged people vacationed out of the city during the summer. While away, they would wear their white clothes, only to put them away again once vacation season was over. That became a rule among them and even turned into a sign of status. Eventually, it trickled down to other classes.

Both explanations seem reasonable, and to be honest, we wouldn't be surprised if it was some combination of the two. Whatever the case, the tenet has had an impressively long life; here we are, after all, talking about it about 100 years later.

Even though the rule is old and well-established, that doesn't mean you have to follow it. No one should feel obligated to obey fashion rules if they don't want to. So much of the fun of fashion is being able to get creative and come up with what makes you feel your best. You can wear—or not wear—white whenever you want.

There are other old fashion rules you don't have to follow. HERE are outdated fashion faux pas.

The Real Reason Why You 'Shouldn't' Wear White After Labor Day

02-09-2017 · The old fashion rule to not wear white after Labor Day is going out of style. It may have originated because people wanted to stay cool or because it was a sign of wealth. But now people are wearing white whenever they want. The end of summer is just about here and, for the rule followers among us, that means abiding by the age-old adage of ...

02-09-2017
  • The old fashion rule to not wear white after Labor Day is going out of style. 
  • It may have originated because people wanted to stay cool or because it was a sign of wealth. 
  • But now people are wearing white whenever they want. 

The end of summer is just about here and, for the rule followers among us, that means abiding by the age-old adage of “no white after Labor Day.” But have you ever stopped to wonder where that mandate came from in the first place? And does it really still even apply? We decided to do a little digging into the history of this clothing commandment.

According to a 2009 Time article, it’s possible the directive may very well have been born out of function. Back in the days before air conditioning (gasp), white attire was simply cooler to wear (in temperature, not in vibe). When it wasn’t appropriate to don skimpier, skin-baring, casual looks in scorching temps, one simply had to rely on lighter, less heat-absorbing clothing. If you had to be fully dressed, a paler palette would at least help prevent sun stroke. TBH, we’re sweating just thinking about it.

Ariel Winter
Ariel Winter rocked white in January.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

It’s also possible the decree isn’t even based on practicality at all but rather, snobbery. As both Marie Claire and Time have pointed out, wearing white in the summer months may have been a way for the ultra-rich to self-identify as separate from the working masses (and the nouveau riche). In short, if you lived in the dirty city, you wore dark clothes. If you were wealthy enough to escape to a vacation home for the summer, you wore white “leisure” looks — until it was time to return to urban life, that is.

Kim kardashian
A pregnant Kim Kardashian looked stunning in white in October.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

However it originated, we’re pretty sure the sun is finally setting on this sartorial stipulation. Fashion insiders are proving that white can be wearable all year round, designers and retailers are following their leads, and well, we couldn’t be happier about it. Who wants to be limited when it comes to style anyway? Let there be light. 

This Is Why You Can’t Wear White After Labor Day

06-09-2016 · In fact, you can wear whatever you want, whenever you want, because you live in 2016. Of course you can wear white after Labor Day, and it makes …

06-09-2016

It’s the day after Labor Day which means three things: Pumpkin spice season is here, the kids are back in school, and you absolutely cannot wear white until Memorial Day 2017. Who cares that it’s still above 90 degrees across the country, you must ascribe to the Starbucks and fashion rules of yore, right? Well, maybe not, at least according to Emily Post.

The idea beyond the “no white after Labor Day” rule first came into the American fashion scene at the turn of the 20th century, according to the Emily Post Institute. Back then, the “summer season was bracketed by Memorial Day and Labor Day,” when city folks would shed their heavily-layered sidewalk frocks for more comfortable and light fabrics at the seaside.

Judith Martin, also known as etiquette columnist Miss Manners, tells TIME, "Not only was there no air-conditioning, but people did not go around in T shirts and halter tops. They wore what we would now consider fairly formal clothes. And white is of a lighter weight."

But don’t blame southerners or Californians for this ridiculous fashion faux pas. As Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion, additionally notes to TIME, “All the magazines and tastemakers were centered in big cities, usually in northern climates that had seasons."

Those snobby New England elitists used the rule for more than just marking the passage of another summer in Newport and Long Island. They also used the trend to keep a newly upwardly mobile middle class from settling in on their turf. As Mental Floss notes:

“...it was difficult to tell the difference between old money, respectable families, and those who only had vulgar new money. By the 1880s, in order to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already ‘in’ felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow.”

So do we still need to follow this archaic rule more than 100 years after it took effect? According to the manners experts above, hell no. In fact, you can wear whatever you want, whenever you want, because you live in 2016.

As the Emily Post Insitute notes,

Of course you can wear white after Labor Day, and it makes perfect sense to do so in climates where September’s temperatures are hardly fall-like. It’s more about fabric choice today than color. Even in the dead of winter in northern New England the fashionable wear white wools, cashmeres, jeans, and down-filled parkas. The true interpretation is wear what’s appropriate—for the weather, the season, or the occasion.

Why You Can't Wear White After Labor Day

01-06-2021 · So why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Well, if you were on-trend you only wore white during the warmer months, when you left the grimy city to take your fabulous vacation. Light-colored clothing keeps you cooler and looks much better on a yacht, or in the clear sunshine on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Being able to afford a whole new wardrobe for different seasons was a huge ...

01-06-2021

If you’re planning to spend your Labor Day enjoying a well-earned day off work, congratulations! Loving the barbecues, parades, weekend getaways, and Labor Day memes, but wondering what is Labor Day? Well, that day off is exactly what the workers and unions of the past fought for, along with reasonable working hours, days off, safety regulations, and minimum wage. During the coronavirus pandemic, many previously underappreciated workers were deemed “essential,” especially in lower-wage industries. Labor Day isn’t just summer’s last hurrah, it’s also the day to appreciate and value all workers without whom our lives would be a much messier place. After all, it’s the contributions of workers and laborers in every industry who made the United States what it is today, and what it will be in the future. That sounds like a good excuse to put up some Labor Day decorations! Or, if you prefer to celebrate in style, perhaps check out some Labor Day sales. Speaking of style, the “no white after Labor Day” rule might have you thinking twice before putting any white clothing items in your cart. But why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? And does this rule still apply to 21st-century workers? Turns out, no one is entirely sure where this fashion decree came from, but there are a few different theories.

If you’re wealthy, no white after Labor Day!

The old-fashioned decree bans us from wearing white during the winter and spring, from Labor Day in September until May Day (strangely, another day designated to celebrate workers’ rights!). One popular theory dates back to the early 1900s. Many progressive changes were occurring for American women, like the election of the first woman to Congress and the passing of the 19th amendment that meant women could finally vote. Despite these advances, social acceptance for wealthy women was still very much based on what you wore—and when you wore it. So why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Well, if you were on-trend you only wore white during the warmer months, when you left the grimy city to take your fabulous vacation. Light-colored clothing keeps you cooler and looks much better on a yacht, or in the clear sunshine on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Being able to afford a whole new wardrobe for different seasons was a huge status marker for the wealthiest families. It was also a helpful way to separate the nouveau riche from the old money, by creating semi-arbitrary rules about what to wear, where, and when that only those in the know knew to follow. For the wealthy and stylish, this is what fashion looked like 100 years ago.

Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Dirt!

Another theory that answers the question why can’t you wear white after Labor Day notes that white is harder to keep clean in the fall and winter: mud, dirt, leaves, snow, that gross snow that somehow develops after a couple of days… yuck! Of course, for the coordination-challenged, white is hard to keep clean all year round, but back in the day when pollution was even more unchecked and rainfall might bring soot down with it, white would have been one of the higher-maintenance clothing colors. Additionally, most fashion designers were based in the northeast, and especially in New York City, which suffers through four seasons each year. Even if you lived in New Orleans, you still took your style cues and tips from Fashion Avenue, so for the trendiest dressers white was out, despite its cooling benefits.

By the 1950s, women’s magazines started making this “no white after Labor Day” ordinance a little more public, basically making the proclamation official. Wearing white only between Memorial Day and Labor Day now signified being part of the in-the-know fashion club. But doesn’t it also just makes sense to us on some basic, weather-based level? Labor Day marks the end of summer when you pack up your breezy white sundresses and get out your fall and winter wool. It’s a transition point, marking the changing temperature and the return to school, work, and regular life that autumn brings.

It’s 2021, so the answer to “Can you wear white after Labor Day” is yes: You can absolutely wear white after Labor Day if you want! Better yet, there’s a historical precedent for your trend-thwarting ways: Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself, who insisted on swanning around in her bright, white outfits year-round. So stylish.

If you need some shopping inspiration, these white pieces can be worn before, during, and after your Labor Day barbecue. So long, summer!

Best Summer Hats For Outdoorsrd.com, via retailers (4)
Nordstrom Sandals And Shoesvia nordstrom.com (4)
collage of swimsuit Cover Ups for the summervia hatattack.com, via shop.dia.com, via amazon.com

Originally Published: June 01, 2021

Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day?

13-01-2022 · Thankfully, fashion restrictions have softened considerably, and trendsetters now believe that you can wear white year-round if you wish to. That’s all there is to it. On Labor Day, you could say that the white-only rule is no longer applicable. “Wear what’s truly appropriate for the climate, seasons, or event,” is the best argument.

13-01-2022

According to popular belief, the rule was inspired by wealthy people’s fashion choices.

Breathable, bright attire, pure linen suits, and airy outfits were popular among the affluent in the early 1900’s.

If you have any sort of interest in fashion, then you’re well aware that after Labor Day ends, you’re not allowed to wear white.

However, you might well be thinking, why not? The answers, it turns out, aren’t so clear.

What Is the Reason Behind This Rule After All?

Although no one knows for sure when or why such a fashion guideline was established, the strongest explanation suggests that it was in response to elitism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Following the Civil War, rich wives ruled over the socialites in a dominating way. However, as more people became millionaires, it became very difficult to distinguish between legitimate inherited rich families and those who had merely acquired new wealth.

By the 1880s, ladies who were already “in” felt compelled to create a set of aesthetic criteria that everyone in the know had to follow to determine who was accepted and who was not.

Other women would know not to approach a lady who arrived at the opera dressed in a costume that cost more than the typical American earns in a year but had the improper sleeve length.

Was This Rule Taken Seriously?

More of these absurd restrictions were enacted, such as not wearing white outside of the summer season. White was only worn for weddings and vacations, not for fall dinner parties.

In fact, around September, it could get pretty hot. And wearing white would be the most practical decision. However, this was not considered an appropriate way of dressing. When Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, it meant the end of summer fashion.

Not everyone followed this rule anyway. Even several socialites refused to follow the crowd. Although the restriction was initially enforced by only a few women, it soon spread to everybody.

By the 1950s, women’s periodicals had made it obvious to middle-class Americans that white apparel was only worn on Memorial Day and Labor Day.

We can all agree that the fashion industry is more liberal these days regarding what colors to wear and then when. Still, you would find people saying that wearing white after Labor Day is a big no no. Due to a few snobby millionaires who declared it was unacceptable fashion trend centuries ago.

What Is Labor Day All About?

Labor Day is remarkable in that it honors American workers in a country where you can celebrate and recognize numerous cultural or religious holidays.

It is a holiday intended to honor the efforts of American workers to the country’s strength and progress. Labor Day was first recognized in New York City on September 5, 1882. The Central Labor Union was the driving force behind this event.

Labor Day as a Holiday

Two distinct individuals have been credited with the invention of Labor Day. According to some researchers, Peter J. McGuire, the secretary-general of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, originally suggested a holiday to honor laborers.

Some credit Matthew Maguire: A mechanic and later secretary of International Association of Machinists Local 344 in Patterson, New Jersey, with the establishment of Labor Day. 

People believe that while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York in 1882, he presented the notion of a holiday to celebrate the working-class people.

The Central Labor Union the Labor Day proposal. They organized a committee to plan a march and picnic.

After the deaths of workers during the Pullman Railroad Strike of 1894 in Chicago, the United States Congress unanimously supported legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday. The first Monday in September marked as the official celebration. Six days after the protest was over, President Grover Cleveland approved the law.

May Day vs. Labor Day

Labor Day and May Day, the dual labor holidays, emerged from violent clashes involving workers and law enforcement in the Midwest of the United States. On May 1, 1886, the Haymarket Riot (or Haymarket Incident) began.

Thousands of workers marched through Chicago, demanding an eight-hour work week. The protest persisted for several days. A bomb exploded on May 4, killing seven police officers and eight citizens. However assaulter is yet to be found.

Several years later, in Paris, an international socialist assembly recognized May Day to be a holiday honoring workers’ rights. Numerous nations throughout the world celebrate what is now known as International Workers’ Day.

Workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company, which made train carriages outside Chicago, began to protest eight years later, in May 1894, to protest 16-hour workdays and low salaries. Pullman cars were not moved by members of the powerful American Railway Union (ARU).

Rail traffic was disrupted across the country. President Grover Cleveland signed a measure making Labor Day a national holiday a few days after the ARU joined the Pullman strike. Cleveland also dispatched federal troops to Chicago to put an end to the boycott. Angry workers rioted, and National Guard forces opened fire on the crowd, resulting in the deaths.

The Very First Labor Day

According to the Central Labor Union’s arrangements, the first Labor Day holiday was observed on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. On September 5, 1883, the Central Labor Union organized its second Labor Day holiday.

By 1894, 23 additional states had joined the celebration. And President Grover Cleveland signed a bill designating the first Monday in September as a national holiday on June 28, 1894.

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, fashion restrictions have softened considerably, and trendsetters now believe that you can wear white year-round if you wish to.

That’s all there is to it. On Labor Day, you could say that the white-only rule is no longer applicable.

“Wear what’s truly appropriate for the climate, seasons, or event,” is the best argument.

However, you should reconsider wearing white to an American-style Labor Day bbq. The concern isn’t with fashion; it’s with ketchup. The iconic deep red tomato sauce can destroy a fine outfit if it splashes.

Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day?

29-08-2019 · These days the fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when, but every year you will still hear people say that white after …

29-08-2019

Wearing white in the summer makes sense. Desert peoples have known for thousands of years that white clothing seems to keep you a little bit cooler than other colors. But wearing white only during the summer? While no one is completely sure exactly when or why this fashion rule came into effect, the best guess is that it had to do with snobbery in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The wives of the super-rich ruled high society with an iron fist after the Civil War. As more and more people became millionaires, though, it was difficult to tell the difference between respectable old money families and those who only had vulgar new money. By the 1880s, in order to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow. That way, if a woman showed up at the opera in a dress that cost more than most Americans made in a year, but it had the wrong sleeve length, other women would know not to give her the time of day.

Not wearing white outside the summer months was another one of these silly rules. White was for weddings and resort wear, not dinner parties in the fall. Of course, it could get extremely hot in September, and wearing white might make the most sense, but if you wanted to be appropriately attired you just did not do it. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, and society eventually adopted it as the natural endpoint for summer fashion.

Not everyone followed this rule. Even some socialites continued to buck the trend, most famously Coco Chanel, who wore white year-round. But even though the rule was originally enforced by only a few hundred women, over the decades it trickled down to everyone else. By the 1950s, women’s magazines made it clear to middle class America: White clothing was dug out on Memorial Day and went back into storage after Labor Day.

These days the fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when, but every year you will still hear people say that white after Labor Day is unacceptable, all thanks to some snobby millionaires who decided that was a fashion no-no more than 100 years ago.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at [email protected]

A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2021.

Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day?

The "you can't wear white after Labor Day" rule was reportedly created to separate the old money elitists from the new money group. As more people became millionaires, it was difficult to ...

THE end of summer is slowly approaching as Americans get ready for Labor Day weekend.

However, as the three-day weekend arrives this week, so too does an odd century-old arbitrary dress code "no wearing white after Labor Day."

This year Labor Day lands on September 6
This year Labor Day lands on September 6Credit: Getty

The "you can't wear white after Labor Day" rule was reportedly created to separate the old money elitists from the new money group.

As more people became millionaires, it was difficult to distinguish between respectable old money families and those considered new money.

By the 1880s, to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow.

"It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out," Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told Time in 2009, "and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules."

White was considered vacation attire for people who had money and could leave the city during warmer months.

"If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion, told the outlet.

Meanwhile, white linen suits and Panama hats were considered the "look of leisure."

However, many dispute the class theory, claiming "people want to attribute everything in etiquette to snobbery."

"There are always people who want to attribute everything in etiquette to snobbery," Judith Martin told Time.

"There were many little rules that people did dream up in order to annoy those from whom they wished to disassociate themselves. But I do not believe this is one of them."

Nevertheless, another belief is as Labor Day marks the end of summer, many vacationers may begin to pack away their white clothing in favor of darker colors.

"There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry," explained Steele.

"You're back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you're doing in the fall - and so you have a new wardrobe."

Regardless of how the rule really came about, no one in the 21st century follows the more than century-old practice.

With the arrival of Labor Day, so too does the strange century-old arbitrary dress code 'no wearing white after Labor Day'
With the arrival of Labor Day, so too does the strange century-old arbitrary dress code 'no wearing white after Labor Day'Credit: Getty
Yes, you can wear white after Labor Day: stylists weigh in ...

05-09-2021 · One of the most well-known fashion “rules” is that you can’t wear white after Labor Day -- however, some stylists have told Fox News that rule is outdated.

05-09-2021

One of the most well-known fashion "rules" is that you can’t wear white after Labor Day – but it turns out that rule is outdated.

"My focus is generally on helping people uncover what they feel best in and what they really want to be wearing and feel like expresses themself the most," Dacy Gillespie, a personal stylist and owner of Mindful Closet in St. Louis, Missouri, told Fox News. "And so, for that reason, excluding a whole color for half of the year just doesn’t make much sense."

"If that’s a color you love and you want to wear and it makes sense in your wardrobe, why shouldn’t you wear it?" Gillespie added. 

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According to etiquette experts at The Emily Post Institute, the "rule" of not wearing white after Labor Day comes from the early 1900s, "an age where there was a dress code for practically every occasion," the Institute says on its website.

The fashion

The fashion "rule" that you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day is outdated, according to personal stylists. (iStock)

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, wealthy people would leave the cities and stay in seaside cottages or mountain cabins and wear their "lighter, whiter summer outfits," according to Emily Post. 

Gillespie said the rule is "kind of a holdover from the leisure class."

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Sarah McDonald, a personal stylist and owner of Pivotal Style in Oklahoma City, told Fox News that many people are "dead set" on following this rule and that some are even "blown away" when she tells them they can actually wear white after Labor Day. 

"They just stay in their comfort zone," McDonald told Fox.

Dacy Gillespie, a personal stylist and owner of Mindful Closet in St. Louis, told Fox News that

Dacy Gillespie, a personal stylist and owner of Mindful Closet in St. Louis, told Fox News that "excluding a whole color for half of the year just doesn’t make much sense." (iStock)

McDonald also said other rules that people should know to break include wearing black and brown together, wearing black and navy together and wearing horizontal stripes. 

"Those are the ones I feel like most of the population think is still a thing," McDonald said. 

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According to Gillespie, wearing white after Labor Day depends on whether the clothing items make sense, rather than what color the item is. 

"If it is in the dead of winter and it’s muddy out, yeah white shoes probably don’t make sense," Gillespie said. "It’s more about the specific outfit and the specific occasion than it is about the rule."

Sarah McDonald, a personal stylist and owner of Pivotal Style in Oklahoma City, told Fox News that many people are

Sarah McDonald, a personal stylist and owner of Pivotal Style in Oklahoma City, told Fox News that many people are "blown away" when she tells them they can actually wear white after Labor Day. (iStock)

Gillespie, who said her approach to fashion is about "moderation and being minimal and intentional," recommended that people should avoid "getting caught up in all the new fall fashion."

"Think really intentionally about what you actually need to add to your wardrobe this year based on your life, your lifestyle, the styles you prefer to wear," Gillespie said. 

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As far as post-Labor Day fashion, McDonald recommended mixing and matching.

"One my favorite things to do if it’s still hot, but you’re so ready to get into fall attire is to mix and match your spring/summer pieces with your fall/winter," McDonald said. "So, one thing I love to do is maybe a miniskirt or fun paper bag shorts, but then pairing it with one of your fall jackets."

She added that the most important thing to remember is not to take fashion "rules" so seriously, because fashion is "really supposed to be so much fun and it’s supposed to be a way to show your personality."

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"So you might as well just do what you love and wear what you love," McDonald said. "As long as your clothes fit good… all the rules are off the table."

Can You Wear White After Labor Day? - How to Wear White ...

09-06-2021 · I don’t know who needs to hear this, but, yes, you can wear white after Labor Day. Trends come and go. Style norms change decade after decade. …

09-06-2021
white after labor day

Sebastian Kim

Trends come and go. Style norms change decade after decade. But fashion's oldest (and most outdated) myth has managed to prevail through centuries and cultural shifts—still remaining one of the most Googled style questions to this day. With white boots becoming a wardrobe staple and an overload of winter-white coat options blanketing the market, why are we still asking if it's okay to wear the hue after Labor Day?

Where Did the Fashion "Rule" Even Come From?

Though it's unclear who invented this "rule," it originated among the elite in 19th-century America, explains Amanda Hallay, the fashion historian behind The Ultimate Fashion History, a popular YouTube channel. "It was a snobbish way for the upper echelons to distinguish themselves from the burgeoning nouveau riche."

As with most things, the fashion "don't" only continued to flourish into the 20th century because of the wealthy. "The rule really has more to do with wearing white before Labor Day than not wearing it after," Hallay reveals. "By the end of the 19th century, upper-class Americans escaped the summer heat of the city by retreating to the countryside or seaside, where white clothing remained free of the inevitable grime of the increasingly industrialized urban centers. This was a sartorially social divide—only those who could afford to wear white could wear white. Not only did the wealthy summer in the far-cleaner countryside, but should their beautiful white dresses get dirty, they had servants to launder them."

So, Does It Still Apply Today?

The short answer? Absolutely not. In fact, winter white—from shoes and outerwear to knits and even white pants—is chicer than ever.

Street Style : Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2020 : Day One

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At some point along the way, the fashion rule attempted to transition into "no white shoes after Labor Day." But the white boot trend, which has remained a force for several seasons, has since debunked that myth. From cowboy boots and croc-embossed knee-high styles to two-toned black-and-white options, white kicks are an unexpectedly fresh way to accessorize even the bulkiest of winter ensembles.

Why Are People Still Following This Rule?

At a time when sneakers are worn with suits and streetwear is more coveted than classic designer items, why are so many people still clinging to such an outdated, strict fashion rule? "It speaks in part to tradition and a sartorial marking of the seasons, but moreover, Americans are far more class conscious than we like to believe. We've been programmed to believe that white after Labor Day is tacky, and I think it will take a couple more decades for the 'rule' to completely disappear," Hallay says.

In the spirit of breaking fashion rules once and for all, add some white to your fall and winter wardrobe. Leave the rules of the elite in the past where they belong.

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Yes, You Can Wear White After Labor Day

01-10-2021 · We don’t know who needs to hear this, but, yes, you can wear white after Labor Day. White blazers are a wardrobe staple and with so many winter-white denim trends, why are we still asking if it’s okay to wear the hue after Labor Day? Whether you opt for winter white, cream, or crisp nautical white, there’s no reason to pack away your whites once fall arrives.

01-10-2021

We don’t know who needs to hear this, but, yes, you can wear white after Labor Day. White blazers are a wardrobe staple and with so many winter-white denim trends, why are we still asking if it’s okay to wear the hue after Labor Day? Whether you opt for winter white, cream, or crisp nautical white, there’s no reason to pack away your whites once fall arrives.  

How the Rule Got Started
In the early 1900s, not wearing white after Labor Day was a firm rule among the wealthy who regarded it as a symbol of refinement. This “rule” was started according to the vacationing schedule of the elite, when white was considered only proper for summer vacation attire. The rule was less about what was worn and more about who was wearing the clothing.

Does the Rule Still Apply?
Thankfully, this fashion rule has become outdated. It is safe to say that white can be worn at any time of the year. Today, we’ve pulled together 4 fashionable looks to showcase how to style white post-Labor Day and transition them into early fall. Take a look!

1. Warm Neutrals

Accent your whites with warm rich fall hues such as tobacco browns and camels. Animal prints are also fantastic layered with white and add another fun dimension to an otherwise very neutral palette. Neutrals and deep hues (e.g., black, navy, rust, even mustard yellow) work really well and balance out the summer-y look that white jeans can often bring to an outfit.

2. White Pattern

Mixing white with patterns is an easy way to enhance the look of your nautical white pieces. For example, pairing white with a pattern like this camouflage pant is unexpected yet sophisticated. STYLIST TIP: Update white pieces by accessorizing them with fall-forward extras: bold jewelry, statement belts, and fall booties.

3. White Black

Bold and understated, this timeless color combo is stylishly chic and takes minimalism to the max. This look can be sharp enough for the office (okay, not every office, but some), simple enough for casual wear, and eye-catching enough for evening outings.

4. White Layering

For a crisp look, layer neutrals or basics underneath white outer layers. Many of your summer pieces will easily transform into fall layering pieces when worn beneath an outerwear layer, perfect for colder weather. White layers, like this winter-white blazer, are a statement piece to have in your wardrobe and can easily be dressed up or down for casual or formal events. 

We hope you agree it’s time to let go of this silly fashion rule and wear white all year long. Besides, aren’t fashion rules made to be broken anyway?

Why can’t we wear white after Labor Day?

Labor Day is on the first Monday of September, in the USA.I wore this post’s outfit on Sunday, Sept 3rd But hello, we obviously CAN wear whichever color we want nearly anytime (observing some cultural aspects). Not wearing white after Labor Day is a “rule” from the beginning of last century, when wearing white in the summer kept people refreshed, there was no air-conditioning.

Why can’t we wear white after Labor Day? Who said that?
Side braid with ribbon hairstyle

Side braid with ribbon hairstyle

Labor Day is on the first Monday of September, in the USA. I wore this post’s outfit on Sunday, Sept 3rd :) But hello, we obviously CAN wear whichever color we want nearly anytime (observing some cultural aspects). Not wearing white after Labor Day is a “rule” from the beginning of last century, when wearing white in the summer kept people refreshed, there was no air-conditioning. It was a symbolic way to show that someone was wealthy – in the city, people wore dark clothes and rich families could go on holidays – and wore white, a symbol of summer. “By the 1950s, the custom had calcified into a hard rule” (source here).
No-white-clothes-after-Labor-Day-ruleThe old rule says that people “should” stop wearing white from Labor Day to Memorial Day, which is on the last Monday of May – so, next year, May 28th. Serial Mom, a movie from 1994, showed how some people still observe the old rule – Kathleen Turner as a serial mom, killed someone who wore white shoes after Labor Day. She would have killed Coco Chanel, who wore white anytime – but well, she was French and the rule is American. What do you think of the oldrule“?

OOTD

White jacket, . Jeans, SimplyBe. Tunic, Topshop

White jacket, MJ. Jeans, SimplyBe. Tunic, Topshop

Nail art of the week :) Bracelet, Rchlo

Nail art of the week :) Bracelet, Rchlo

Nail art detail, with beads. Stone ring, Total

Nail art detail, with beads, for the Peace and Love symbol :) Stone ring, Total. I wanted LOVE written on my nails, in an artistic way :)

Detail of the tunic print

Detail of the tunic print… and the signs of Fall coming soon, on the floor

I am so in love with this park!

I am so in love with this park!

Hand painted Russian brooch, Liberty London neckerchief

Hand painted Russian brooch, Liberty London neckerchief

Shoes, Schutz

Shoes, Schutz

I am loving kitten heels lately!

I am loving kitten heels lately!

Fake croco bag

Fake croco bag that turns into a clutch. Don’t mention the scars on my fingers… I fell down on the street last week and it was not fun!

Finishing Touch and Mood of the Week

Take-care-of-thoughts-quote

Wishing a lovely week with many smilesThank you so much for your lovely comments!

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Wearing White after Labor Day: 5 Ways to do it Right

27-09-2019 · What color you match with white after Labor Day can really make a big difference . White is the foundation of everything, so it naturally goes with pretty much everything, especially blue, red and black. If you want a more dramatic look, paring white with black is the most classic and never goes wrong in any occasion. Wearing navy with white is inherently sleek and sophisticated, and is ...

27-09-2019

Wearing white after Labor Day is the never ending debate in America. Have you heard of this many times and are wonder why is wearing white after labor day bad?

Well, this “no white after Labor Day” rule first came into the American fashion scene at the turn of the 20th century and it was used by the New England elitists, according to the Emily Post Institute.   Why? Back in the days it was difficult to tell the difference between old money and new money, respectable families and those who only had vulgar new money, in order to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who weren’t already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow. 

100 years later, this rule has apparently filtered into American culture at large, and everyone has heard about it from fashion magazine or stylist at some point as part of fashion etiquette .

So, here we are, after Labor Day and transitioning into fall, the sun is still bright and shinning and we feel reluctant to wave goodbye to the warm weather.  Are you are asking yourself “should I wear white after Labor Day or not?”

You are not alone.  Every year around Labor Day, the fashion debate begins around this time. 

The answer is absolutely yes! All fashion rules can be broken, and this one is not an exception either.   

In fact, if you are a stylish petite girl, wearing white is advisable year round, in the sense it adds presence to your outfit.

So, the question is not really whether you should wear white after Labor Day, instead, it really is how to wear it.

Wear white with the fall staples

The key is to be mindful with what you wear with white.  If you mix white items with fall staples such as jean jacket, suede boots, colorful scarf, or leopard print belt, then you can make the most use of your summer items and wear them all the way through the winter.  It will be fun to play mixing and match in your wardrobe.  

Emma Watson, 5’2″, Getty Images

For instance, most of us have a favorite little white dress (LWD) which we do not want to put away after Labor Day.  If you are petite, mixing a white skater dress with a cropped jean jacket will elongate your legs, and make you look much taller. Additionally, be strategic about the size of your accessory and where you want the accessory to be.  For petite girls, wearing a shorter scarf will draw people’s attention upwards to your face, and visually is more flattering.

Less about the color and more about the fabrics. 

When we transition into the fall, the flowy and airy fabrics naturally are less suitable for the weather change and the temperature drop.  Instead, you would probably prefer fabrics with a little bit of texture or weight, such as wool sweater or cashmere.   

Victoria Beckham, 5’4″, Getty Images

A quality  piece in white wool or cashmere can be worn all autumn and winter and will always be in style. Cable knit sweater or cashmere with honeycomb details are winter classics, which add the perfect amount of weight to winter white.  A white cable knit sweater never goes out of style.  It is so versatile you can easily pair it with pants or skirt and look effortless chic while staying warm.

Wear slightly different shades of white

Compared with the bright and summerly “white” white which looks cool (temperature wise) and breezy, you may want to look into a warmer shade of white such as cream, ivory or off white.  

Mira Duma, 5′ (Getty Images)

Invest in a white outerwear

A classic way to wear white after Labor Day is to invest in a high quality white jacket or white coat.

A white tweed jacket is the all time favorite of fashionistas. It will be your best friend in the transitioning weather, and probably a great investment for this fall.  You can layer it on top of your light weight dress for a date night, or wear it to an office meeting.  

A white parka or down coat in the winter is always chic and will keep you warm.  

For petite girls, wearing white outerwear in winter will not only make you look chic, but also be flattering to your petite frame, as it adds presence.

Mira Duma, 5′, Getty Images

What color you match with white after Labor Day can really make a big difference

White is the foundation of everything, so it naturally goes with pretty much everything, especially blue, red and black.  If you want a more dramatic look, paring white with black is the most classic and never goes wrong in any occasion.  Wearing navy with white is inherently sleek and sophisticated, and is effortless chic, especially at work occasions.

Another benefit of paring white with darker shades is to balance the bulkiness.  Darker color have the slimming effect and it works wonderfully well with white in the winter.  

Victoria Beckham, 5’4″

If you want to have a little fun with colors, try to pair it with red or plaid.  Wearing white with red will not only make you stand out in the black and grey crowd in winter times, it also naturally radiates warmth and energy.  

Plaid is another winter classic, and wearing white with plaid is timeless and never goes out of style.

Use white accessories strategically

Wearing white shoes could still be appropriate, depending on the occasion, but a pair of white lacy or satin pumps is probably less practical than a pair of white leather stiletto or cream color boots.  A winter classic is a fluffy white cashmere scarf or a white sweater hat, and most of us cannot resist the warmth and cuteness.

Mental Floss

29-08-2019 · Mental Floss

29-08-2019

Wearing white in the summer makes sense. Desert peoples have known for thousands of years that white clothing seems to keep you a little bit cooler than other colors. But wearing white only during the summer? While no one is completely sure exactly when or why this fashion rule came into effect, the best guess is that it had to do with snobbery in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The wives of the super-rich ruled high society with an iron fist after the Civil War. As more and more people became millionaires, though, it was difficult to tell the difference between respectable old money families and those who only had vulgar new money. By the 1880s, in order to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow. That way, if a woman showed up at the opera in a dress that cost more than most Americans made in a year, but it had the wrong sleeve length, other women would know not to give her the time of day.

Not wearing white outside the summer months was another one of these silly rules. White was for weddings and resort wear, not dinner parties in the fall. Of course, it could get extremely hot in September, and wearing white might make the most sense, but if you wanted to be appropriately attired you just did not do it. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, and society eventually adopted it as the natural endpoint for summer fashion.

Not everyone followed this rule. Even some socialites continued to buck the trend, most famously Coco Chanel, who wore white year-round. But even though the rule was originally enforced by only a few hundred women, over the decades it trickled down to everyone else. By the 1950s, women’s magazines made it clear to middle class America: White clothing was dug out on Memorial Day and went back into storage after Labor Day.

These days the fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when, but every year you will still hear people say that white after Labor Day is unacceptable, all thanks to some snobby millionaires who decided that was a fashion no-no more than 100 years ago.

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A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2021.