Why Do We Say We Can’t Wear White After Labor Day? 

Every year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States. Historically, Labor Day was held in celebration of American workers and their labor. Today, Labor Day is experienced by many as a federal holiday and the unofficial end of summer. Labor Day is also said to be … the last day we can wear white? It is commonly said that it is a fashion no-no to wear white after Labor Day despite the fact that actual fashionistas don’t obey this rule. So where did this supposed bit of fashion advice actually come from?

Old money vs. new money?

Well, nobody knows for sure where this piece of fashion wisdom comes from. However, there are some common theories. One states that this rule was created by the wives of the wealthy American elites during the late 1800s. The story goes that the women who we considered themselves to be old money created this rule among themselves so they would know who was in that upper crust inner circle and who was a “pretender” thinking too much of themselves. (Well, la-dee-dah!)

Dress your language up with these popular words originating from the fashion world.

Staying cool?

Another theory is based on practicality. Back in the day, people didn’t have air conditioning or central heat so instead relied on shades of clothing to adapt to the changing temperatures. Most people would wear white and light colors during the summer to stay cool. When the fall came, people would shift to black and darker colors to stay warm. Because Labor Day often marked the end of the hot summer months, people simply stopped wearing white too much after this day and so the “rule” emerged.

Summering in luxury?

A final theory blends both classism and practicality to suggest another reason for the rule. This theory suggests that wearing white before Labor Day signaled that you were an ultra-rich trendsetter who had a luxurious summer home on the beach. White was seen as the color of vacation wear. If you wore white after the end of summer, it meant that you were clearly not rich enough to know that white was only appropriate when worn lounging around with other millionaires at fancy mansion parties.

Long story short: it’s perfectly fine to wear white after Labor Day! Feel free to wear whatever color you want without fear of sending out signals that you’re a new money millionaire with a swanky summer vacation home and oh, yes, you happen to love air conditioning.

Make Your Writing Shine!

Get grammar tips, writing tricks, and more from Thesaurus.com ... right in your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Every generation has its own style, and that shows in their language. Learn about the different terms different generations use for the same things.