It is the one of the most debatable topics of fashion and it is always at the forefront of many a fashion forward diva or gentleman before and after Labor Day. Weeks before Labor Day, we are pressed to wear as many of the pieces in our wardrobe that is this color. After Labor Day, we begin the closet purge. We remove all traces of this color from our fall/winter wardrobe until Memorial Day, the official start of summer. What color are we speaking of? The color white. It is a tradition for brides to wear white regardless of the time of year, and for everyone else to officially indulge in the color white after Memorial Day or the first official day of summer. For three short months, we all get to wear white any and everything from swim wear and sandals to linen suits, campaign hats, miniskirts, and shorts, along with flowing shawls, wraps, dresses, and scarves. But as the final hoorah of summer fizzles out on Labor Day evening, the task of pushing those beautiful white wardrobe essentials to the back of the closet or packing them away in tissue paper becomes the fall chore for the first few consecutive weekends in September. It is a sad, thankless routine that has been deeply seeped in Black culture for generations. But where did this ‘no white after Labor Day’ tradition begin?
Fashion historians say that the ‘no white after Labor Day’ rule has its’ roots in elite White American society during the late 19th and early 20th century. Wearing white during the summer months were in vogue for wealthy Americans who made the pilgrimage from the griminess of city life to the refined living of summer homes along the coastal regions and the South. Once the summer ended, these upper crust Americans would make the trek back to the cities of the industrial age where wearing white was more than a fashion faux pas; it was downright impractical. Splatters of mud, animal manure along with other unsavory debris and mechanical pollution filled the air and streets of many cities and acquiring fashionable pieces in the color white was seen as impractical being that much of the white fabrics such as linen, silk, and satin were expensive and considered a luxury. So, the rule to cease wearing white after Labor Day was one of sustainability accepted by the wealthy and was soon adopted by middle- and lower-class Americans.
However fast forward to 2022 and the taboo of wearing white after Labor Day is rapidly eroding from fashion’s consciousness. Fashion dabbled in its’ love and want for the color white for years by muting it to creams and beiges, winter white and off-white. These shades of white were viewed as acceptable fall and winter attire. Yet time has changed the perception of wearing white after Labor Day and many popular designers are including white signature apparel in runway collections throughout the fashion world. Wearing white all year round is no longer a fashion faux pas as the Fall-Winter 2022-23 collections have revealed. Want to slowly indulge in this former taboo and look stylishly sleek and comfortable at the same time? How about a white Gucci all over pleated skirt ($1,275), in a vintage-style mode of the 1920’s, made of silk viscose duchesse paired with a white wool double-breasted blazer with gold buttons and a peak lapel, with a pair of white Chanel open suede calfskin shoes ($1,350) with a black toe and a gold buckle strap? Great visual, right? For weekends at the fruit and vegetable market or thrifting, do it in a white Prada cropped super-fine wool and viscose sweater ($1,350) and a pair of wellworn jeans with Valentino white calf skin loafers ($895) for comfort and style. The sweater dress is a favorite for the fall-winter season and 2022 is no different. Saint Laurent offers a beautiful white long turtleneck sweater dress in wool ($3,990) which would look lustrous in Sue stiletto smooth leather pumps ($895) in white. The cutting-edge design of Prada presents a flowing ethereal white Crepe’-de-Chine midi skirt ($2,500) made of nylon with tape at the waist makes a great must have in this season’s closet because it can be worn at the office and transitioned nicely to an evening out with a small Prada white bag ($3,750) with a leather handle and detachable straps. For those days when the Florida temps become chilly and cool, the Hermes white Poncho ($1,300) in cashmere and silk is a good option as well as the Valentino white Compact Drape Cape ($5,500) with a hood, made with wool and cashmere, both good options because they are feather light, but are designed to keep its’ wearer fashionably warm.
Adding a pop of white to the fall-winter closet is no longer a taboo. One can do so now effortlessly and attract second glances of admiration. Give your favorite ensemble a treat by adding a white belt to a pair of jeans or a dress. Make your handbag stand out with a white scarf beautifully draped and bowed on the handle. Put on several strands of white pearls with that colorful blazer or wear a pair of white trousers with a crewneck sweater. White is in. So instead of packing up your white or shoving it to the back of the closet, why not give it a seasonal update? Cause wearing white after Labor Day is no longer a fashion faux pas. It is simply fashion fabulousity!