As the old saying goes, if it’s anytime after Labor Day wearing white is a fashion faux pas. But, what does it mean? Technically any day is after Labor day, even if it’s the day before Labor Day it’s still after the previous Labor day, right?! So, what’s with this seemingly archaic rule? Turns out not wearing white after Labor Day is only half of the rule. Technically can only wear white after Memorial Day and then you stop at Labor Day. So, apparently white is only allowed during the summer. That’s only one fourth of the year… are we really expected to utilize this color for only a quarter of the year? Well, it seems like there are several reasons why our ancestors followed this rule.
First: Old Fashion Roles
If any of you are familiar with how fashion was treated in centuries past. Most clothing had a specific function and was used for that function only. Men who wore denim worked in labor intensive jobs, like mining. Women who wore black were in mourning. And white, that was specifically for lounging around in the heat. Wearing white was typically done by the rich at resorts. The rest of the year it didn’t serve a particular purpose.
The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the warmest and most of the time dryest part of the year. The likelihood you’ll have to trudge your nice white clothes through rain soaked mud is a lot less. Also, back in the day (before we could heat our houses with the touch of a button) the way someone would keep their home warm would be to shovel coal into a furnace. Wearing white while shoveling coal is a quick way to ruin your clothes, especially considering this was before stain removers and modern washers existed.
Third: Mean Girls
Yes, Mean Girls. Only wearing white during the summer months was the post Civil War Era’s equivalent to “on Wendesdays we were pink.” Women who were born into wealth were not fond of the women who climbed up into the upper class. One way to tell the “Old Money” from the “New Money” was to have secret fashion rules. For some reason, the white labor day rule seems to be the only one that has stayed around until today.
So, does this mean that we have store away our favorite white fashion for the rest of the year? No! You do you girl.
Photos: Frejas Winther