Although no one is positive exactly where the “don’t wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day” rule originated, the best explanation I’ve heard comes from Mental Floss magazine:
“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 old money, respectable 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. That way, if a woman showed up at the opera in a dress that cost more than most Americans made in a year, but it had the wrong sleeve length, other women would know not to give her the time of day.”
So, if the no white “rule” really has no basis — other than the whims of some 1880’s “mean girls” — I say forget it!
But, trying to wear white in the office can still be tricky. It’s important to choose just the right white pieces – those that are appropriate for warm weather and look professional in the office.
A simple white dress, like the sleeveless, double-breasted piece from White House Black Market, above, is a great place to start. Or, pair the season’s hottest voluminous white pants with a tailored, black “tie” blouse for a look that transitions from day to night. Other favorite ways to wear white include white jewelry used as an accent, a white bag in a classic shape, or accessories, like a white scarf tied at the throat.
The no-no’s? Anything too sheer, too short, too lacey, or too casual (like white denim, gauze or Spandex).
So, although it’s not Memorial Day quite yet, I say go ahead and wear white!
Your guide to a life filled with STYLE! Susan Conforte McNeill is a wife, mother, author, entrepreneur, Harper’s BAZAAR Style Ambassador and Cover Girl Ambassador. Susan Said…WHAT?! was named one of the Top 50 Beauty Blogs in the World by RebateZone.com in 2015. Susan is also the co-founder of the literacy organization Success Won’t Wait! Read more about her in Family Circle Magazine.