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Wearing White After Labor Day

I don’t want to spoil the end of Serial Mom, but suffice to say that Serial Mom does not believe in wearing white shoes after Labor Day…also if you’ve never seen Serial Mom, you should probably go watch it right now, I can wait.  And what about you?  How do you feel about white after Labor Day?  According to my exhaustive research (two social media pols), 83% of you are on the right side of history, and 17% of you side with a fictional serial killer who harasses her neighbor by calling her and purring “pussy willows” into the phone.

So, what’s the deal with the “no white after Labor Day” rule?  When did it start?  Why did it start?  And who started it?  The big color lobby?  Funny you should ask (I’m pretending you asked), there are two schools of thought when it comes to “no white after Labor Day”.  The first is all about function.  See back in the olden days, people didn’t have air conditioning or even ceiling fans.  In order to stay cool they had to sit on blocks of ice or something, and we all now how quickly ice melts, and who has a nonstop everlasting ice block budget?   (This part is all made up for effect btw)  Clothes in lighter/white colors are the teensiest bit cooler than darker colored clothes, so the rule sprung from there.

The second school of thought says, “girl please, when has a fashion rule ever been dictated by function?”  It’s all about snobbery.  Look back at old timey pics of city folk in the summer, no one is wearing white!  Now look at fancy resort pics from the same time.  Check out Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan and all their highfalutin friends, white clothes in the summer!  The working class had like three shirts, and we all know how quickly white gets dirty!  The wealthy wore white in the summer, but eventually the 1950s rolled around and with it, the middle-class explosion.  People became obsessed with being bougie.  Women’s magazines (primary read by middle class ladies of a certain age) glommed on to “no white after Labor Day” and it became the weird rule we know today.

And what do I think?  In the words of Eva Peron, to hell with the bourgeoisie!  Ok I’m paraphrasing, what Eva Peron really said was “screw the middle classes, I will never accept them, my father’s other family was middle class, and we were kept out of sight, hidden from view at his funeral”…well at least that’s what she sang in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award winning musical Evita.  I might stop wearing some overtly summer clothes, but that has more to do with the upcoming weather forecast than some antiquated “rule”.  My beloved white denim Jordache jumpsuit will stay in rotation, but I wouldn’t wear, say a breezy white Lilly Pulitzer sundress, mostly because Lilly Pulitzer is hideous.

If we didn’t learn it in season one of True Detective, we’ve learned in the last six months, time is flat circle.  Since March time has both dragged and flown; I can’t be tied to a rule about what to wear when if I don’t even know what day it is!  But if I was going to abide by an outdated hard and fast rule about when to put away my summer clothes, I would say that we still have two weeks till the fall equinox and that’s a more generous cutoff.  Also, the world is swirling dumpster fire, if wearing something white makes you happy (say for instance a white nap dress) then hold on to it with both hands.

Image from Great Gatsby film 1974

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About the Author

Heather Foley

Heather has been writing for Caught In Southie since pretty much the beginning and for that we apologize. She can often be found on her couch with a log of raw cookie dough. Her biggest fear is being on an episode of Dateline and her wildest dream is being a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race. Feel free to let her know if there's something you think she should write about, unless it's stupid.