Why Not Wear White After Labor Day?


No white after Labor Day -- it’s one of the oldest rules in commercial, everyday fashion. And yet it is the least understood. This rule began in the North East at the beginning of the 20th century. The wealthy would leave the city to go to their country and summer homes in the warmer months, escaping the humid and bustling city. The curator for the museum for the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), Kevin Jones, said in an interview with Yahoo.com correspondent Claudine Zap, “If it’s summer, you’re not in the city, you’re at your country home." Jones continues to explain that white clothing, rather than darker fabrics, reflect light -- keeping these aristocrats easy, breezy and most importantly, in style. But as the weather changed, so did the dress code.

Ladies and gentlemen would leave their sheer white button ups and white canvas pants at their summer homes and convert to heavy coats and darker, cooler colors.  And since the weather usually changes around Labor Day, the popular fashion commandment has evolved into "No White After Labor Day."

As with most things high fashion, this rule was followed with intense judgment and very few guidelines. Whereas in the beginning, most ladies in the know only wore darker coats and heavier fabrics and completely avoided the milky color, modern times have been more lenient on what is and is not appropriate. Some designers and bloggers say accessories or pieces of white are fine such as white boots or a crisp, clean white shirt underneath an autumn appropriate anorak.

But who really follows this once worshipped commandment?

New Yorkers, along with fashion followers, have retired this edict and left it as an epitaph on 20th century New York fashion’s tombstone. Modern New York has adopted a new acceptance of all things different and controversial, including wearing white throughout September and the coming colder months. Labor Day is no longer a day marking the exile of the color white. Rather, it is a day marking the beginning of Fashion Week and Fashion’s Night Out, a brand new holiday for the fashion conscious demographic where anything goes -- even white after Labor Day.

OpinionJoanne VoComment