How (and Where) to Wear White After Labor Day

The fashion world has a litany of rules and standards to which even the richest and most fashion-forward are beholden. Watch your hemlines. Don’t be too “matchy matchy.” And, the most timeless and strict fashion rule of them all: you can’t wear white after Labor Day.


Or can you? Here’s how (and where) to wear white after Labor Day.

Where It Comes From

This rule started as the United States was rebuilding itself after the Civil War. The rich would use the summer to go to their country estates, and as it was hotter, they would wear white linen. Drinking mint juleps in a garden while someone else waited on them hand and foot meant that they wouldn’t need to get their hands or anything else dirty, and with the sun beating down, white was a crisp, fashion-forward option.

Once fall came back around, they would head back into the city where it was impractical to wear anything but dark colors due to the smog and crowded, dirty streets. Because Labor Day would signal the beginning of school, (and with school came cooler, wetter weather) it became the official end of summer, and this classic rule was born. But rules were made to be broken, and washers and dryers exist for a reason.

Breaking the Rule

For the beginning of fall, you can’t go wrong with short white dresses and long-sleeved cardigans. This is perfect for football games on Saturday afternoons, as you’ll need something for the chill when the breeze comes in, but when the sun is beating down, a white sundress can keep you cool and collected. Bonus points if white is one school color and your cardigan or shoes are the other. Just be careful not to spill any tailgating food.

A white button up never goes out of style. For work or happy hour, a white button up under a colorful blazer spells out “professional” to colleagues and clients alike. Pair the shirt with a large statement necklace, white pants, and shoes with a splash of color, and you’re ready for a happy hour on either a rooftop or nestled in next to a vintage fireplace that will get you noticed.

Once the temperature has gone down and you’ve settled fully into fall and the holidays are approaching, make sure to take time for yourself. Schedule a trip for somewhere with a warmer climate before the snow makes its first appearance. Experience Florida’s Gulf Coast and split your time between the pet friendly beaches and the local seafood scene. While you’re there, wear a white bathing suit to stand out against the surf. Or throw on a sumptuous white sweater with your capris and pedal pushers to stroll down small town main streets.

Beyond Labor Day

When winter blows in with its usual subtlety, use it as an excuse to get into a true winter wonderland mindset. Wear a white lace dress to a black-tie office party. Use white accessories to compliment a wine-red ensemble. Even better, a long white wool coat and a white beret can keep you warm while also looking put together regardless of the event you’re attending. Don’t forget the gloves as well.


Wearing white all year round used to be something only Coco Chanel could get away with. In the days before modern appliances, it made sense that city dwellers wore dark colors that could hide the stains and weather that could mark up their clothes at any moment. With the right outfit and appropriate event or setting, though, every fashionista can make white work for them now, whether as an accessory or a full statement.



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