With Labor Day just around the corner, we're starting to hear people utter the phrase "you can't wear white after Labor Day!" Have you ever wondered why?
A Time Without Air Conditioning
Well, for this adventure we must travel to the time before air conditioning! Time says "One common explanation is practical. For centuries, wearing white in the summer was simply a way to stay cool."
The practicality of wearing a color that wouldn't absorb heat as easily in the summer makes the most sense as to why the color would be stopped being used at the end of the traditional summer season. The weather gets cooler after Labor day, so that is when people traditionally switch to warmer clothes, and warmer colors to go with them.
"Wait a minute... if it was just about the way the heat affected the clothing colors... why does it matter now that we have centralized heating/ cooling?"
Great Question! It doesn't! Because of centralized air, the need for the cardinal rule of no white after labor day.
Old Money Fashion Rules
But it's not just that, it also has to do with how people used to show wealth.
Time continues to talk about the way that wealth contributed to this hard rule of fashion, "In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of choice for Americans well-to-do enough to decamp from their city digs to warmer climes for months at a time: light summer clothing provided a pleasing contrast to drabber urban life."
So, anyone who could afford to vacation would wear white as a way to not only remind themselves that they are away from the dirt of the city and the stress of their jobs, but also as an easy way to remind everyone else that they are NOT on the clock. (Not unlike when I wear a fanny pack in a foreign country. Don't come at me, let me have this hehe)
When the summer ended, and people had to start going back to the city, they would put their nice vacation clothes away, and they would go back to the dark colors that were easier to clean.
Do we wear white after Labor Day or not?
Honestly? Do whatever you want! We have ways to control temperature, and also who doesn't love their trusty Tide stick?
If you want to wear white, there is no reason not to unless you know you're going to crush a rack of ribs, then probably not the best idea. But there's no reason to follow a 19th-century fashion rule if you don't want to!