Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day?

Can you wear white after Labor Day?

Can you wear white after Labor Day?

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wealthy American industrialists and their families would flee the oppressive heat of cities and factories to enjoy the summer breezes on the beach, in the mountains, and on their yachts. The sensible fabric was linen, and the coolest of colors was white.

Meanwhile, back in the cities and at the factories, laborers toiled in their drab clothing of browns and blues. In an effort to mimic the styles of the fashion elite, ladies of the common class would often purchase white garments to wear as a sign that they, too, were among the elite.

The wives of the rich did not take well to the working class wearing what they deemed to be their color of exception. According to the Emily Post Institute, the wealthiest of wives made a pact among them that none of them would wear white after Labor Day. They would be assured that, upon seeing a women wearing white after Labor Day, that the offending woman was not of the elite class.

The wearing of white after Labor Day was far from the only insider secret that wealthy wives used to ensure they could tell who was truly wealthy. Before hem lines were able to be risen above the ankle, the length of a lady’s sleeve was altered seasonally to signal who was “in” and who was “out.”

In the 1950s, the wearing of white only after Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day became a mainstay in magazines targeting women and fashion. The motivation for this strategy was not to protect the image of the elite, but rather to stimulate sales for advertisers of womenswear.

Among the fashion pioneers who helped liberate ladies from the limits of the elite was Coco Chanel, who advanced the idea that there were really only two colors to choose from: black with white or white with black.

Marilyn Monroe broke all barriers on wearing white in the iconic scene from the 1955 movie

“The Seven Year Itch,” in which her white dress flapped in the air flow from the subway below the streets of New York.

In the 1960s, Sean Connery, as James Bond, wore his white tuxedo any darn place and time he chose. What better way to defeat chaos than to create chaos by breaking fashion rules?

White menswear took a giant leap in 1977 with the release of the film “Saturday Night Fever,” in which John Travolta performed his disco moves in a white, three-piece suit.

Just when it looked like the white suit might make it as a staple in the wardrobe of the welldressed man, along came Boss Hogg, with his bulging body about to pop the buttons from

His white suit, resplendent with a white hat and cigar!

Now in the 21st century, thanks to the rule breakers who came before us, you can wear white whenever you like. Enjoy your Labor Day. Enjoy every day. You have earned it!


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