It has been said that one should not wear white after Labor Day. Bookended by Memorial and Labor Days, the summer season was made for airy white. Society, having escaped their dreary and stuffy townhouses, flocked en masse to the seaside and mountains. With this newfound freedom came trunks brimming with tighter, lighter, and whiter clothes. Abandon was in the air and white was the color of innocence, of youth. But summer does not last – alas! – and come autumn the gentry plodded back to the cities.
Leaving behind their resorts, Society marked the close of good weather with more formal clothes befitting the grimy city. “No white after Labor Day” was born – and made good sense. Autumn and winter in the city can be mucky business. Water, soil, and slush collect on the pavements – certainly no place for a bone white stiletto or seashell tea length dress. In fact “no white after Labor Day” originally applied exclusively to shoes. But as white was seen as the official color of sport and leisure (crushingly abandoned at the first turning of the leaves), the entire wardrobe quickly followed suit.
So it became that dinner parties and galas of autumn favored deeper jeweled, ochre, and russet tones, but white never completely went away. “Winter white” pops up frequently in colder-month collections and can be a breath of fresh air on coats and jackets. Wools, tweeds, and cashmeres are quite becoming in white. Would Emily Post frown upon your white frock in October? We’d like to think she’d knowingly smile, toss back a glass of Champagne, and compliment your pearls. Because the one accessory to never bow to the dictum, “no white after Labor Day” was pearl. So as the sun descends and the weather cools, do not fear white after Labor Day. Simply don your pearls and look absolutely smashing.