There are certain decades-old fashion “rules” that are simply meant to be broken: don’t mix navy and black (that combo is chic, TBH); do match your belt to your shoes (I mean you can, but also live a little); and, perhaps the most ridiculous one of all: don’t wear white after Labor Day, which we’re addressing here.
According to the Emily Post Institute, this unwritten “No White After Labor Day” law likely had more to do with function than it did with fashion. At the turn of the century (the 20th century, that is), before the itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie bikini was all the rage, and well before our current dress-code busting styles were acceptable, society ladies were still expected to wear full, polished outfits on their seaside vacations during the summer. And these lighter, whiter pieces not only kept everyone cooler when the temperatures soared, but also marked the clear sartorial season between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Practicalities aside though, there are some theories that the ban on post-Labor Day white duds stemmed from money elitists trying to make the lower socio-economic classes feel, well, lower or less than. But no matter what the reason, the bottom line is you can (and should!) wear white after Labor Day. “Head-to-toe-white, especially in the cooler months, looks so very chic,” says our Executive Fashion Director Kristen Saladino. “The focus should be more about the fabric, not the color.” In other words, skip the top-to-bottom white linen in November in favor of a white button-down or sweater, and white jeans.
Other ways to extend the life of your summer whites? Choose the hues that look creamy over those that look stark, and pair them with deeper colors and heavier textures. Update white pieces by accessorizing them with fall-forward extras: camel bags, leather or suede footwear, and chunky gold jewelry.
No matter how you choose to wear your whites, just know that in 2019, fashion rules like these don’t really exist anymore. What a time to be alive! Wear what you like, how you like it, and without the fear that the ghosts of snobby fashion operatives from yesteryear are coming to haunt you. In other words, the myth of not wearing white after Labor Day? Officially busted.