Labor Day weekend is your last chance to wear white for the next nine months.
According to a common fashion expression many people follow as a law, everyone should avoid wearing white clothing after Labor Day. The moratorium extends through Memorial Day, meaning no one should be seen wearing white until the start of June.
But how did this rule come to exist? How is it enforced?
Where Did This Rule Come From?
There are several theories regarding the origins of the decree regarding wearing white after Labor Day.
One theory suggests that the rule dates back to the turn of the 20th century and is attributed to the old money elite, who strived to distinguish themselves from a class of people who newly came into wealth.
White clothing was viewed as vacation attire and thus only fit to be worn by those wealthy enough to travel in the winter and fall months. Conversely, less-wealthy people who couldn’t vacation outside of summer and were forced to stay in the city wore dark clothing.
Therefore, the decree regarding not wearing white after Labor Day is rooted in class distinction.
A second theory offers a more straightforward reason for the rule. Since Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, it has marked the unofficial end of summer across America. Therefore, the rule was generated to remind people to switch their light-colored summer clothes with darker ones more suited for the fall and winter months.
What Happens If This Rule is Broken?
Fortunately, the rule that says you can’t wear white after Labor Day is not a serious one, and offenders need not worry about repercussions. So feel free to wear white after Labor Day if you see fit!
Like many fashion decrees, the rule governing people’s ability to wear white after Labor Day is arbitrary and not enforced like other hard and fast laws. Instead, the expression, repeated over time, has taken on the feeling of a guiding principle for some in fashion.
It is neither inappropriate nor disrespectful to wear white between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that whatever clothing you wear this fall and winter is weather appropriate, but that lies within your own taste.
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Mr. Scanu received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from the University of Florida and an MBA in Management from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Mr. Scanu was also a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University under the prestigious H. Humphrey Fellowship (Fulbright program) with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, and high-growth enterprises.
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