It’s well after Labor Day and the classic closet conundrum hits you. To your right are your adorable, studded black 7 For All Mankind jeans, and on your left is the ivory Alice + Olivia dress you were saving to impress the guy/girl in the second row of your Writing the Essay class. Which should you pick? The decision between looking good versus abiding by a tired, old fashion rule is pretty simple: look good. Wearing white after Labor Day is 100% acceptable today — fashion scout’s honor.
The adage’s history is a murky one with various sources citing different birth stories. One theory guesses its roots go back to the early 20th century when wealthy city slickers would leave their townhouses in the summer for a beachside cottage. With Labor Day marking the end of the summer, they would return home and leave their pearly white summer clothing behind.
Time magazine reports white clothing kept fashion editors cool during the season, yet the color was not appropriate in the rainy months that followed. That idea was projected onto their publications, setting the trend, and consequently banning white after the first Monday of September.
Mental Floss gives a more general postulation: the rule was made by the rich to easily define the line of wealth as those who wore white after Labor Day clearly were not in-the-know and were, therefore, poor. Regardless of the farce’s origins, many people believe white should stay on the ground and in the closet for the last third of the year. But who cares?
Rebel or not, wearing white after Labor Day is an expression of the progressive and ever-changing nature of fashion. Being on a college budget and a New York City floor plan, a white dress shirt can be repurposed for a variety of looks to wear after that fateful day, taking, for example, an embellished collared button down from Chico’s. When going to class, style it with a pair of overalls from Zara’s Trafaluc denim collection ($70) and add a belt for a pop of color and texture.
The second look can follow you from class to an internship with a simple switch and add action; take off the overalls and replace with slacks or a fun colored pant similar to Sinclair’s metallic purple pair ($200). Add an Ann Taylor Factory Store basic black blazer ($129) and an instant internship look is ready.
The third and final ensemble works for the weekend. A cute faux-leather skirt feminizes the button-down as seen with a brown box-pleated skirt by Double Zero. A chunky leopard print belt from Nasty Gal adds visual interest and plays off of the black and white polka dot ankle boots ($48).
Whatever the season, and whatever the occasion, white is always acceptable. Rules were meant to be broken, and in a case like this, nobody should let arbitrary dictums define his or her choices, especially one as personal as clothing he or she puts on. So wear white proudly, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Email Charisandra Perez at [email protected]