Although no one is positive exactly where the “no wearing white 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.”
The article continues, “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, the no white after Labor Day “rule” really has no basis other than the whims of some 1880’s “mean girls.” And, I say forget it.
But, wearing white after Labor Day, can still be tricky!
A simple white dress (in a sturdy fabric, nothing flimsy) is a great place to start. Add a jacket or sweater in a warm neutral such as beige, caramel or pale gray for a great transition look.
Or, pair voluminous white pants with a tailored, black blouse for an ensemble that easily goes from day to night. One fabulous piece of statement jewelry finishes the look.
One of my personal favorites? White jeans get a quick and easy fall update with the addition of short boots, booties or heels and a flowing, lightweight cardigan sweater.
Other ways to successfully wear white after Labor Day:
- A crisp white blouse looks great with everything from your favorite denim skirt to classic black pants.
- White jewelry used as an accent can be worn well into the fall (I love a good enameled bangle from Fornash).
- A snowy white scarf can be tied at the throat, in a low ponytail or adorn a handbag handle.
So, although Labor Day has come and gone, I say go ahead and wear white!
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