Why is There a “No White After Labor Day” Clothing Rule?

posted: 09/08/15
by: Courtney Reimer

It's a rule that's seemingly as old as clothing itself: no white after Labor Day. For many it's a way to signify the change from summer to fall, but is there any real logic or science behind it? The answer is: kind of.

This helpful Digg article rounds up several of the historical explanations for the age-old rule, which include:

1. It's easier to keep cool in white. And since Labor Day to many signals the arrival of fall, it also (in theory) signals the arrival of cooler weather and less need for warm-weather-friendly whites.
2. White isn't compatible with wet weather. Namely, mud, but also if you've ever gotten caught in a rain storm while wearing white, you can probably think of another reason why white is better in the drier months.
3. Style rules such as these were a signifier of high class. Apparently these mostly arbitrary fashion rules were instituted by the higher classes, so following the no-white-after-Labor-Day rule was a way of indicating that you were well bred.
4. Coal is dirty, and coal was once the main way everyone kept warm. People literally had to shovel coal in order to heat their homes way back when. Coal/soot and white are not meant for each other.

All of that said, a no less venerable fashion publication than Vogue not only has deemed it acceptable to deviate from the no-white rule, they recently published a list of 15 White Looks to Wear Long After Labor Day. In that same spirit, here are a few of our favorite Instagram style posts for #whiteafterlaborday

I'm such a rebel wearing white after Labor Day. Thanks to the advancement of paved roads, this fashion rule is really outdated. _____________________________________ September photo challenge day 8 - bright. A bright white top is always in fashion. #september8 #bright #theidearoom #potd #photoaday #photochallenge #septemberphotochallenge #downtownfresno #fresnogarden #civiccentersquare _____________________________________ Who says you can't wear white after Labor Day. Knowing the history behind this rule has me shining bright in all white #outfitoftheday #ootd #whiteafterlaborday #allwhiteoutfit #fringe #blushpink #thewebsterfortarget #thewebstermiamifortarget #target #targetstyle #oldnavy #oldnavystyle #lclaurenconrad #hm

A photo posted by Lydia Johnson (@lyddiebit) on

labor day fresh ??

A photo posted by Somewhere, Lately (@somewherelately) on

#WhiteAfterLaborDay isn't a thing in the south when it's summer most of the year! #rulebreaker

A photo posted by Shelly Sobol (@shuttershell) on