Where did the whole "don't wear white after Labor Day" thing come from?
It’s almost Labor Day, which means that it’s time to talk about a big fashion rumor that happens to involve this holiday — is it okay to wear white after the holiday passes? Is Labor Day the LAST day in the calendar year for us to sport our best white shorts? And even further… Where did this bonkers rumor come from, anyway?
First, just know that you can wear whatever you want after Labor Day. The fashion police won’t come to arrest you for such a daring faux pas. But, maybe if we knew the reason behind why it’s a “rule,” and figured out its origin, it’d all make a little more sense.
It turns out that we can partially blame the sun, and we can partially blame the upper class.
During the early 1900s, white was a symbol of your social class, as white clothes don’t cause you to sweat as much as darker-colored clothes in the summertime. Being able to afford lighter, airy clothes was a luxury. But then, the Depression ended and more money was made by more people — and those who couldn’t indulge in white clothes earlier jumped on the bandwagon (since hey, it was a status symbol.)
Familiar with the Dr. Seuss book The Sneetches? It’s a classic, but the same rules pretty much apply here. Once white was open for everyone, suddenly it became “uncool” — kind of like how the non-starbellied Sneetches got “stars upon thars,” which caused the demand for star-bellies to go down.
Now, back to the “don’t wear white” rule at hand – it was also based on the weather.
After Labor Day, it typically gets a little bit cooler, which means that it’s not as important, temperature-wise, to don a white wardrobe. Even so, forbidding the color to be worn in the fall seems to be just a tad bit controlling, so perhaps it was just a sneaky way for the early adopters to “regain control” of something that was originally theirs.
Of course, the entire notion is pretty silly today. Not too many people still judge class based on white clothing. If anything, the best reason to “not wear white” after Labor Day is because cool weather is approaching, and it’s the perfect time to break out your dark-colored hoodies and long sleeves.
(Then again, if those happen to be white? Well then, you’ll just have to rock it like the rebel you are!)