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“No Wearing White After Labor Day” Rule…How True Is It Anymore?

Did you know that Coco Chanel wore white year round?

Well, it’s that time again and the same debate seems to arise. Do you wear white after Labor Day? 

My 7-year-old daughter of all days decided today to run and get out her white shorts and a white shirt with a pattern print on it out. I found myself automatically saying to the same thing as my mom always said to me, “You don’t wear white after Labor Day.” To which my daughter replied, “What does that mean?” And then off she went with the shorts and I found myself standing there thinking about this after I saw some articles on the Internet and postings about this debate over wearing white after Labor Day.

According to Yahoo! Buzz log, their Yahoo! Searches rose 2000 percent on people doing searches on topics of "Don't wear white after Labor Day," "why can't you wear white after labor day" and "no white after labor day" in their  “After Labor Day, OK to Wear White?” Yahoo! Buzz log.

Traditionally (at least around here), many of you probably start to bring out your white clothing with your summer clothing around Memorial Day Weekend and then pack it away again around Labor Day. At least for me, that’s the way I was brought up. Those white shoes and pants were not supposed to be worn outside of that season. As a kid you never questioned why…well at least I really didn’t. But now you keep seeing the issue being brought up, and of course, fashion is ever changing.

So where did this concept or rule of "no white clothes after Labor Day" originate? One thought I came across while looking into this was the possibility of it starting with the Navy. Traditionally, dress whites were replaced with dress blues after Labor Day.

But actually, it could be just a simple and practical answer. According to the Time U.S. article “Why We Can’t Wear White after Labor Day,” wearing white in the summer was simply a way to stay cool — like changing your dinner menu or putting slipcovers on the furniture. And white is of a lighter weight.

Meanwhile, some historians speculate, the origin of the no white after–Labor Day rule may be symbolic. According to the Time U.S. article “Why We Can't Wear White After Labor Day”, “In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of choice for Americans well-to-do enough to decamp from their city digs to warmer climes for months at a time: light summer clothing provided a pleasing contrast to drabber urban life. "If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," says Scheips, many scurrying to their jobs. By contrast, he adds, the white linen suits and Panama hats at snooty resorts were "a look of leisure."

Did you know that Coco Chanel wore white year round? "It was a permanent part of her wardrobe," says Bronwyn Cosgrave, author of The Complete History of Costume & Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day.

So are you going to be breaking the fashion rule of “no wearing white after Labor Day” or setting your own fashionista trend this upcoming season?

Editor's Note: This article first appeared on Matawan-Aberdeen Patch.

kellee lively September 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I'm from the SOUTH, and any good southern bell knows that you just don't wear white after labor day!
Bridgett Milam-Crooks September 05, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I do think it was thought of and practiced due to weather. But we are an AC/heat bearing society these days, so if its good enough for Coco, it's good enough for me!

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