Wardrobe Wednesday: Can we wear white after Labour Day? Of course!

Photo: leannconway.com

It’s that time of year once again… Labour Day! Some look forward to the weekend, but most dread it.  

Labour Day marks the unofficial end of summer, back to school and the imminent change of weather. And, for centuries it has meant tucking the white clothing away until next May. Do you remember your Mom telling you not to wear that white dress, skirt, pants or shoes? I think we all grew up with this fashion rule and it is stuck in the back of our minds to this day. Do you adhere to this tradition? Is it really necessary? Why should we?

The idea of not wearing white after Labour Day originated in 1894 when Labour Day became a Federal holiday in Canada. White clothing was, and still is, recognized as “summer attire”. White clothing was frowned upon when society accepted Labour Day as the conclusion of summer fashion. Back at the turn of the century, wearing white clothing throughout the summer months was a status symbol for the elite of society. Wearing white in the smoggy, dirty, dusty conditions of the early 1900s meant that they could afford to ruin their clothing and replace them. The elite marked the turn of the season with new clothes and stowed away their summer wardrobes.

Why white in the summer? Years ago clothing was modest with more coverage, so white kept women cool. The scanty tanks, shorts and skirts that we see today did not exist. Also, white clothing reflected sunlight whereas dark clothing absorbed it. And, of course, there wasn’t any air conditioning. White garments were more practical, cooler and lighter.

Yes, fashion rules can be broken! In the 1920s fashion rebel and icon Coco Chanel defied the rule and wore white year round. White was a staple in her wardrobe.

In my opinion, the not wearing white after Labour Day fashion rule is absurd. Keep in mind with global warming, summer heat has extended into September and sometimes even October, so we can keep those summer wardrobe staples going beyond Labour Day. You don’t necessarily have to wear all white, but it is a great accent colour.

One rule I do abide by is wear what is appropriate for the weather and the occasion. So, white wools, chunky white knits and sweaters, white down vests and jackets, white leather and denim are fabulous pieces to wear right into the winter months. You can also experiment with white accessories.

Here are a few rules to follow that are a little less restricting when the season changes…
Don’t wear lightweight cottons or linens.
Flowy fabrics are a no-no.
Wear textured and heavier fabrics.
And, if you’re still uneasy about white after Labour Day, opt for ivory or winter white. These colours are a great alternative and a great option for everyone.

So, don’t rush to your closet and put all your white clothes away for the next eight months. See what you can mix and match with your fall basics, extend your wardrobe and have fun!

Karen has had a passion for style and fashion most of her life. Her lifelong dream came to fruition 17 years ago when she opened her boutique Moda Elle in Plaza Pointe Claire. Karen prides herself on excellent personalized service and truly loves to make her clientele happy. She recently doubled the size of the boutique in order to serve the well-dressed West Island women better.