Taboo or trendy? How to wear white after labor day

By Liv Barry
Elm Staff Writer

As the fashion world sees drastic shifts within its core, such as the rejection of fast fashion and trend cycles and the rising acceptability of alternative fashion styles, we are forced to re-examine the rules that define our style.

 Now that Labor Day is upon us, we have to question whether wearing white after the end-of-summer holiday is still a fashion faux-pas.

While the rule is mostly thrown around as a joke these days, the “no white after Labor Day” rule was employed by the wealthy in the early 20th century to show up those who could not afford lighter, luxury clothing for the summer.

Before the advent of fast fashion, the upper and middle class only bought clothing seasonally – heavier clothing designed with warm fabrics and darker colors for the fall and winter, and lightweight, light-colored clothing for spring and summer to keep cool.

Those who were working class, however, could not afford seasonal clothing and wore the clothing that they owned until they outgrew it.

 The “rule” was less about what was worn and more about who was wearing the clothing.

“No white after Labor Day” was a means to distinguish the wealthy in the summertime from the working class.

The rule is inherently exclusionary – both from the working class and any wealthy person who dared to stray from the status quo. Now that fashion’s rules are drifting away from its stiff, exclusionary foundations, it is safe to say that white can be worn at any time of the year.

Here are a few ways to play with the “no white after Labor Day” rule.

White Shoes

Over the past few years, white shoes have become a wardrobe statement for all seasons. Air Force Ones and Converse sneakers can be seen on anyone from celebrities to struggling college students. They can be dressed up or down, and act as the perfect compliment to the standard fall outfit –  jeans and a sweater.

If you’re going to break the Labor Day fashion rules this season, however, you might as well go all out. Any spunky twist on the classic white shoe can add a shock of color to an otherwise muted fall outfit. Shoes like Converse and Doc Martens offer a classic, yet trendy flair to any ensemble.

For another edgy twist to a classic shoe, try a white boot. White boots have been a hyper-feminine clothing staple, seen on fashion icons like Nancy Sinatra and Ariana Grande.

Mismatched Whites

Mismatched white colors have always been considered a fashion faux-pas, but a monochrome white and ivory look is a great way to look put-together as the summer turns into fall.

Celebrities like SZA and Rowan Blanchard have been spotted wearing all-white ensembles ranging from streetwear to black-tie.

For busy students, looking put-together can be a struggle, but a monochromatic outfit is an easy way to appear fashionable with minimal effort.

Even if the pieces are different shades, wearing white from head to toe makes a dramatic statement. With a few gold accessories, an all-white outfit can elevate simple athleisure wear to ensemble-status.

White Menswear

Androgynous looks, like structured jackets and tailored menswear, are projected to be some of the biggest trends of the fall.

 “Designers aren’t going halfway — button-downs are layered under vests, over turtlenecks, under jackets, under long coats, over trousers — and sometimes belted and finished with a tie,” said Jaclyn Palmero and Sierra Mayhew with Harper’s Bazaar said.

To play with structure in your closet, try adding a white button down shirt or blazer to your fall fashion rotation.

The best part about white button downs is their versatility; they can be worn as is, tucked in, cropped, or layered over your favorite t-shirt. Plus, the linen and cool color are the perfect way to combat the summer heat that lingers in September.

While it still might be too warm outside for winter coats, a white, lightweight blazer gives a stylish touch to outfits.

Similar to button downs, blazers can be worn as a traditional, professional piece or dressed up over a crop top and matching pants, as seen on sophomore Sophie Foster.

In a fashion world where the old guard is no longer applicable to modern day fashion rules and people are more free to wear what they want, when they want, there are plenty of ways to wear white after Labor Day, and to look good while doing so.

Photo by Izze Rios

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