If you have lived in the US long enough, you have surely heard that the fashion rule that you should only wear white after Memorial Day and before Labor Day. Well, now that I am officially “allowed” to wear white, it has me thinking about whether or not I want to put all my white clothes, shoes, and bags away come Labor Day. I’m thinking that’ll be a NO.
Some of the Possible Reasons This Rule Existed in the First Place
Now, if this is a new idea to you or one you’ve bee taught your whole life, you probably don’t know why this fashion rule started in the first place. I didn’t! So, I did some digging and found some interesting tidbits I thought I’d share.
According to Reader’s Digest, “Social acceptance for wealthy women was based very much on what you wore—and when you wore it. If you were “on-trend,” you only wore white during the warmer months, since you could probably afford to wear leisurely lightweight clothing—and afford to buy new clothes if you sweat through them.”
Then, fashion magazines started promoting and reinforcing the rule in the 1950s.
According to the Emily Post Institute, white signified summer resort wear, so there was a distinct shift in seasonal dress for work and play.
Basically, wearing white only during the summer became a way to show you were wealthier than your peers because you could afford to purchase different wardrobes for the seasons. Another fun fact for those of us who live in the Northern US, the rule actually shifts from Memorial Day to Easter in the Southern US.
Why I Wear White All Year Long
Have you heard the saying, “Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.”? Well, I think the same way when it comes to my fashion choices. Who wants to be told when they can and cannot wear something they love? Life is too short! Plus, white has proven to be classy and chic year-round. If that wasn’t true, then why are American wedding dresses white?
Why You Should Too
Not only am I encouraging you to wear white all year, but so are the fashion and etiquette experts! The Emily Post Institute says, “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.” Plus, Coco Chanel famously wore white year-round.
But, There are Still Some Times When White Is Not Right
Now, I’m not saying to go crazy and show up wearing white to your BFF's wedding. That would definitely be the wrong fashion choice. When you choose to wear white after Labor Day, make sure the fabric choice is right (such as not wearing linen in winter) and an appropriate setting (preferably one where you won’t get dirty easily). And, if this is too rebellious for the rule-followers in the room, opt for off-white in the off-season.