By all means, wear white after Labor Day

Fashion is plagued with silly rules: don’t mix brown and black, don’t wear socks with sandals and don’t wear white after Labor Day.

Labor Day has come and gone, and many are pressured to think they can’t wear white. It is a fashion rule that has held strong since the late 1800s and early 1900s, but where exactly does this come from?

There’s two theories to this rule, though the most obvious reason relates to the weather.

White clothing makes you feel a little cooler in the summer. That’s a given, and there’s science behind it. The light color reflects sunbeams, while black absorbs it. Wearing white in the rainy or snowy colder seasons also invited clothing to get stained by the unforgiving mud.

The second theory deals with classist snobbery. The rich class traded in dark, drab work wear for more light and refreshing vacation wear. While the working class ruined their clothing during manual labor, the affluent members of society were able to enjoy the time off, says Natalie Hemmati in a Sept. 16, 2015 Darling Magazine story.

Within high society, this ruling also separated the wealthy socialites from those with new money who were trying to prove themselves as “in the know” and worthy of the time of day. Wives of the upper-class created tests such as this one and many others as secret way to instantly determine status, according to Kathy Benjamin in an Aug. 30, 2012 Mental Floss story. If you presented yourself in white after Labor Day, it was clear that you were not a natural born member of the elite.


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Graphic by Emma Comtois

While Coco Chanel clearly did not give in to this decree and wore white throughout the 1920s, magazines and fashionistas still held tight to this belief. Over time, designers and fashion bloggers have used their influence to show that rules are made to be broken.

This year, stylists, buyers and marketers incorporated numerous items with the crisp color into their fall collections and editorials for the September issue, fashion’s bible and style guide for the season.

Photographer David Roemer captured Jourdan Dunn in a stunning white, multifaceted lace top, paired with platform high heels by Julie Gillet for the French publication Madame Figaro. Photographer Zee Nunes and stylist Pedro Sales collaborated together to create a dreamy edit starring Caroline Trentini in several white pieces for Vogue Brazil. The list goes on with editorials in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Paper Magazine and Vogue Ukraine. These trendsetters are setting the tone for the fall, which by unofficial definition, comes immediately after labor day.

Even retailers such as Nasty Gal, Zara and Topshop host white items in their new arrivals category online. Missguided has a special collaboration with fashion and beauty vlogger Carli Bybel decked out in white bodycon dresses, thong bodysuits and blazers. In Nasty Gal’s After Party Fall 2016 collection, you will find what has been deemed as “fall essentials.” Among band tees, distressed denim and vintage styles are button-up shirts, flared dresses, tees, sneakers and much more in this luxurious color.

If you’ve ever spent time in front of your closet wondering which item to pair with the next to make your outfit “fashionable,” stop worrying so much. Fashion is you and you are fashion. Trends are easy, but using your imagination to challenge the norms and convey your own aesthetic is where the real fun begins. Wear what you want to and make your own fashion rules.

Darriea Clark is a junior magazine journalism major. Her column can be found weekly in Pulp. You can reach her at


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