In 1978, I worked at a posh department store while attending the University of Houston. The Store had a strict dress code and its foremost decree was: ABSOLUTELY NO WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY. No one argued. It was simply status quo. Never mind horrendous humidity and sky-high temperatures. Today it’s quite a different story.
I asked my co-author, style expert Janna Beatty, to answer the question every woman was asking on September 4…Is it Okay to Wear White AFTER Labor Day? Her response:
Oh Hello Question!
I meet you every year about this time.
Not only is it acceptable to wear white after Labor Day, but several years ago it was actually the ‘fashion of the season.’ And currently, white short booties (boots) are ultra-fashionable. They are being shown with winter ensembles as an accent, with no white in the outfit at all.
My personal preference is to put my white (cream) away [shoes, trousers, and skirts]. Then, I reintroduce them at Thanksgiving with my hair color (saddle tan) boots and other accessories. Then white performs as a fall look, transitioning to winter white. This is akin to putting up children’s toys then reintroducing them, and they suddenly feel new again.ing
Are there ways to wear white that don’t scream ‘summer’?
- Fabric type should be a consideration. (Linen and light cotton are typically equated with summer, as opposed to a heavier weight knits or corduroy.)
- Wearing white jeans with a pastel top and sandals gives you a summer look. Wear the same white jeans with a brown or tan mule and a fall-color shirt gives you an autumnal look.
- Even the amount of skin you show can ‘seasonalize’ a look.
Cool and cute in summer.
Light and sophisticated in fall/winter.
Camel and White
Where Did The “No White After Labor Day” Concept Originate?
Historians speculate that in the late 1800’s, upper class fashion dictated the rule. Wealthier folks who could afford to vacation and had summer wardrobes wore trademark white.
When the Labor Day Holiday originated in 1894, the beginning of September officially marked the end of summer. Folks began to put away their white clothing, in anticipation of autumn and cooler temperatures.
By the 1950s, women’s magazines made it clear to middle class America: White clothing (especially shoes) come out on Memorial Day and go away on Labor Day.
But that was during a time when dressing was more formal. We didn’t wear t-shirts and flip flops year-round, like we do today.
Coco Chanel defied the rules and wore chic white suits anytime.
So, go your own way when it comes to white.
And always express your QUINTESSENTIAL STYLE!
NOTE: There is one occasion where it is still considered a faux pas to wear white: at weddings. (Unless you are the bride or it’s specified on the invitation.)
Let us know your thoughts on wearing white after Labor Day. WE DO LOVE YOUR COMMENTS!
I’m so relieved at your answer. My favorite (and most flattering pants) are skinny white jeans! Looking forward to pairing them with sweaters and booties.