Why You Can’t Wear White After Labor Day

We’ve all seen the commercial for Hershey Twizzlers, with the man sitting on the beach, pondering life and asking the question: “Why can’t I wear white after Labor Day?” While wearing white in the summer months to stay cooler makes sense, why can’t we wear white all year long? No one seems completely sure why this fashion rule was established, but the best guess is that it had something to do with the snobbery of the late 1800s. The wives of the super-rich ruled high society with an iron fist after the Civil War, and by the 1880s, dozens of fashion rules had been created by the wealthy. If a woman showed up to the opera in a dress that cost more than most Americans made in a year but it had the wrong sleeve length, other women wouldn’t give her the time of day. Not wearing white outside the summer months was another of these silly rules. White was for weddings and resort wear, not for dinner parties in the fall. Not everyone followed this rule. Even some socialites continued to buck the trend, most famously Coco Chanel, who regularly wore white year-round. By the 1950s, women’s magazines made it clear to middle class America: White clothing was dug out on Memorial Day and went back into storage after Labor Day. Even today, when the fashion world is much more relaxed, we 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.