Why Not Wearing White Became A Fashion Rule After Labor Day

Labor Day is the time to enjoy summer’s final fling, but the fashion world is also full of unwritten rules for the occasion.

The end of summer is just about here and, for the rule followers among us, that means abiding by the age-old mandate of “no white after Labor Day.” The fashion world is full of customs, but we have to wonder how this idea of not wearing white after Labor Day came from in the first place? And does it really still even apply?  

This year, things are a bit different because most of us have been living in casual attire, with many ‘fashion rules’ going by the way-side due to the pandemic. Is the no-white fashion rule meant to be broken this Labor Day?

An unwritten rule

Perhaps the most popular and unwritten fashion code of Labor Day is ditching white wardrobe pieces after the first Monday in September. This is common knowledge, even if many people don’t follow it. 

The origins of the customs stemmed from the late 1800s and early 1900s when air-conditioning was non-existent. In an era when it wasn’t appropriate to walk around in skimpier, skin-bearing casual looks, one simply had to rely on wearing lighter clothing. A paler palette could at least help prevent sunstroke! 

“White luxury”

Wearing white during the summer months was also a status symbol where the wealthy vacationed in holiday homes away from the polluted city. It quickly became a symbol of luxury, or snobbery, depending on the outlook. Due to Labor Day historically symbolizing the revolution of American workers protesting against long working days, donning white during the summer months may have been a way for the ultra-rich to self-identify as separate from the working masses.

However this fashion rule originated, the sun seems to be finally setting on this sartorial idea of not wearing white. Nowadays, fashion insiders are proving white can be worn all-year round, and designers and retailers are following the lead. Casual looks and white being a go-to summer look is still very much the trend. Does anyone want to be limited when it comes to style in 2020 anyway?

Whether you take fashion rules seriously or not, Labor Day is the time to bask in summer’s final rays. Kick-back, relax, and enjoy some outdoor activities, whatever shade you’re in!