Today is labor day which means it’s time to say goodbye to white! This longstanding rule is one that even people who care nothing about fashion know of, but where did it come from? As someone who loves neutral colored garments, I’ve always wondered who decided that basically half of my wardrobe was unacceptable after a certain day.
Post civil war, the women of high society decided that they needed a way to distinguish between old money and new money. In order to do so, they created a list of fashion rules that every one of their social class would know. Some rules lasted while others did not, but obviously reserving the color white for the Summertime is one that stuck. In 1894, Labor Day became recognized as a national holiday and eventually, the two were paired.
This rule was not followed by all, an idol of mine, Coco Chanel (among others), continued to wear white all year long. However, in the 1950’s women’s magazines declared the rule and it became a social norm for both upper and middle-class Americans.
Today, the No White After Labor Day is a rule is still widely accepted, but a few brave fashionistas continue to cast it aside. As my high school apparel teacher, Mr. McLaurin says, “You have to know the rules to break ’em.” So maybe I’ll wear all white to class tomorrow…
Be the zeitgeist.