Rules, schmules… When it comes to personal style, old-fashioned edicts always come up short. Certainly, we’ve all heard the fashion guideline that we should abstain from wearing white after Labor Day. However, once you know the history of that rule, you’ll really want to throw it curbside! We’ll go over that story in second… But first, let’s get one thing straight. Not only is white “appropriate” after Labor Day, it can also be impossibly elegant. Therefore, in this post, we’re focusing on the subtle changes you can make to keep this neutral seasonally relevant and in your current closet rotation. Wondering how to wear white after Labor Day? You’ve come to the right place!
While there are some differing perspectives about the origins of this “rule”, most fashion historians agree there are elements of both snobbery and practicality behind the rule. Back in the 19th century, established high society families wanted to differentiate themselves from the nouveau riche. Many did so by leaving urban centers en masse, trading dingy/hot industrial areas for breezy summers by the seaside.
Unsurprisingly, white clothing became synonymous with leisure and countryside retreats. According to Emily Post, city clothes were left behind in exchange for lighter, whiter, summer outfits. It was resort wear in its earliest form. Those who could afford to wear white could wear white.
As the mom of a 4-year-old, I struggle to keep white pristine. Imagine the task before washing machines existed?! If you had a servant to wash your clothing, you could follow this fashion rule. In contrast, those who worked in the 19th century, favored dark clothing to hide dirt they would inevitably pick up while walking through the city.
Now, with the history out of the way… let’s talk modern living. Of course it makes sense to wear white after Labor Day! The trick is changing up your fabric choices and silhouettes as those temperatures drop. Here are few ways to wear to do that…
An airy, white, spaghetti strap sundress can feel a bit “off” in the fall… even when the temps are soaring. In contrast, a lightweight long sleeve cropped sweater and faux leather skirt will keep you cool, while offering a more seasonal vibe. It’s all about choosing the right fabric weight. Both of these pieces are from Chicwish and real power players in transitional weather. The creamy color of the skirt is supremely versatile and the hollow out knit of the sweater keeps it breezy.
Want to wear white after Labor Day? The way you accessorize and layer your look will also have an impact. For example, linen is a very “summer” fabric. Lightweight cotton is the same. There’s no need to shove those beautiful boho dresses (such as the one I’m wearing above) to the side though. You can easily fall-ify such a styles with your accessories! One of my favorite ways to extend the wear of my dresses is with careful shoe choices. Add an ankle bootie or full length cognac boot to a textural white dress and you’re fall ready. Top it off with a suede or felt fedora and you’ll strike and even more autumnal tone!
We all love our breezy espadrilles and open-toe sandals, but when the seasons change it’s a great idea to swap them out for more practical low-heeled booties. There are myriad white and cream styles that look phenomenal paired with moody floral dresses or chic sweaters. I favor a stacked heel to break up the white, but you could also try an all-white bootie.
Can you wear white jeans after Labor Day? You bet! They are the perfect foil for chunky sweaters or knee length coats—and look particularly chic when you stick to a neutral palette. Pair them with a boyfriend blazer + some suede booties and you’ll look modern as can be. Alternatively, you can opt for a white denim jacket and neutral pants. Mixing and matching neutrals adds a touch of sophistication to your look.
Creams and winter whites are a great way to extend white beyond Labor Day. If you haven’t invested in a great cream turtleneck or cream sweater dress yet, make it happen. This sweater dress (unfortunately sold out now – so I’m linking similar pieces below) is one of my favorite pieces. Wear it now with bare legs, then darken things up with tights and black booties when the temps dip.