Why You Shouldn’t Wear White after Labor Day

Labor Day is this Monday, September 4th and many of us are familiar with the adage that you don’t wear white after Labor Day. Have you ever wondered why? Is it a fashion faux pass? A cultural no-no? Here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day.

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."

Another theory states that the history of not wearing white after Labor Day originated due to snobbery. Back in the day, 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. Hence, if you didn’t get the memo not to wear white after Labor Day, then you were not from old money.

So do we still need to follow this archaic rule more than 100 years after it took effect? Absolutely not!  In fact, you can wear whatever you want, whenever you want, because you live in 2017. So don whatever you’d like, and have a great Labor Day!

Lisa Bray

RE/MAX Professionals


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