Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day?


Wearing white in the summer makes sense, but wearing white ONLY during the summer? While no one is completely sure exactly when or why this fashion rule came into effect, the best guess is that it had to do with snobbery in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The wives of the super-rich ruled high society with an iron fist after the Civil War. As more and more people became millionaires, though, it was difficult to tell the difference between respectable old money families and those who only had vulgar new money. By the 1880s, in order to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow. That way, if a woman showed up at the opera in a dress that cost more than most Americans made in a year, but it had the wrong sleeve length, other women would know not to give her the time of day. Not wearing white outside the summer months was another one of these silly rules. White was for weddings and resort wear, not dinner parties in the fall. These days, the fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when, but every year you will still hear people say that white after Labor Day is unacceptable, all thanks to some snobby millionaires who decided that was a fashion no-no more than 100 years ago.