Wearing White After Labor Day – Fashion Faux Pas or Fashion Forward?

Austin Powers meme

First, let’s look at when and where the fashion rule began. Some say it dates back to the late 1800s, specifically, in 1894 when Labor Day became a federal holiday. Back then wearing white was reserved for weddings and vacationwear during the warm months of summer.  

There are a few theories as to why the rule was established. Some say it was to separate the rich from the commoner; others believe it was “old” money elitists separating themselves from “new” money folk; and the more practical reason had to do with Labor Day marking the end of the summer season, therefore vacation clothing of lightweight dresses and linen suits were packed away for next year. Heavier weight fabrics in darker hues of grays and blues were more in line with the cooler weather.

Over a half century ago, trendsetter and fashion icon Coco Chanel broke with tradition and made it acceptable to wear white all year. Yet the question still lingers all these years later.

When in doubt, many people refer to EmilyPost.com, the name synonymous with etiquette and manners, to learn if the rule still exists today. Here’s what the queen of etiquette has to say about wearing white after Labor Day:  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.”

There you have it! Wear white proudly at any time of year.