Monday, September 7, 2015

Etiquette: Wearing White Post-Labor Day

Being born and raised Southern, there were two hard and fast rules to wearing white: never after Labor Day and only after Easter (or Memorial if you lived anwhere north of the Mason-Dixon). We kept to that tradition since that's how it was done, but as I grew and became an adult, moved around the world, that rule became more of a loose guideline-something to consider, but not necessarily adhere to.

Originating in the days of Emily Post (the early 1900's), people would leave the heat of the city for the comfort of the beaches, and all clothes were left behind, save lighter, whiter summer pieces. When the days grew cooler, they would return to the city and don more formal, heavier clothing. Remember that this was a time when "dress code" actually meant something. There were rules for every occasion, and the greatest sign to mark the change between summer "resort" clothes and those worn for the rest of the year was encapsulated by the dictum of "No white after Labor Day". 

It became a fashion rule.

Growing up in Louisiana, white after Labor Day was a taboo color for anyone to wear below the waist. It was only seen sparingly on top, never in abundance. Of course as times changed, so did the strictness of this precedent. No one can really say when it began. Perhaps with the advent of Camelot and Jackie Kennedy's amazing white inaugural gown the rules began to flex. Fashion adapted, and though it was a slow building trend, by the time I was married, seeing white in the cooler months had become commonplace.

Mixed with jewel tones and brightening up warm neutrals, winter whites were all the rage. On a personal note, observing the fashion-forward women of Japan and their sense of whimsy, and the wonderfully laid-back coolness of the California girls, my thoughts, and aspects of how I dressed, changed as well. I now embrace those warm ivories and surprising with a white dress in a seasonal fabric. Call it being an enlightened Southerner.

It's 2015. Rules are generally thought to be in place to keep some sort of order. But in this girl's humble opinion, some are meant to be bent...and sometimes broken. With the exception of shoes, the rule of thumb for wearing white after Labor Day isn't what it used to be, and I think it's a good thing. There's a time and place for it, of course, and the textile should be considered, but depending on where you live, what your temperatures are, and how comfortable you are with it, wear what makes you confident, what makes you happy.

Wear your white after Labor Day.

If Jackie could do it, so can you.

above image courtesy of

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