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Labour Day: Let Us Wear White

Marianne Wisenthal

Posted on August 19 2019

All summer we swanned around in white cotton maxi dress, white jeans, white hats, and white pointy-toed mules. But come September, BOOM! Every alabaster piece we own will go straight into the closet for nine months of hibernation. Why? Because someone once decided that unless you’re a holy man or a snow lion, you can’t sport white after Labour Day.

White is the colour of summer. It screams bellinis by the beach, parties on manicured lawns, and a devil-may-care attitude that eludes us at -20 degrees. Then, like clockwork, those grass stains set in and September issues start feeding us a diet of mahogany, plum, and cadet blue. 

We admit we’ve been subscribing to this way of dressing for years. But who made up this cockamamie rule? While it would be nice to blame one person (Gwyneth Paltrow, perhaps) there’s no singular reason, only speculation:

Practicalities

At the turn of the twentieth century, before central air was invented, wealthy types in cities like New York wore white because it absorbed less heat. In wet and windy autumn, those cream suits and long dresses would end up covered in mud so away they went into a trunk (or wherever people in the olden days kept their clothes) replaced with black and brown fabrics that wouldn’t show the dirt. Makes sense.

Snobbery

During 1900s summers, well-heeled city dwellers decamped to country homes and resorts where white linen suits and panama hats were de rigueur. Lighter coloured clothes represented the look of leisure only afforded by those who had money to spend on three straight months of vaca. If you didn’t wear white it was because you couldn’t afford to, and that made you riff raff.

Fashion Police

This picky posse has been bossing people around for generations and is typically based in the north where four weather seasons make for four sartorially different fashion choices. Back in the day, they deemed white ‘summer-only’ and here we are. For society types, wearing the ‘right’ outfit also meant getting invited to the right parties, and who doesn’t love a good party?

The Female Factor

Social constraints have been dictating what women should and shouldn’t wear for centuries. The no-white-after-labour-day adage started in the early 1900s and reached its peak in the 1950s when Emily Post reigned supreme. Suburban women did what they were told. If they didn’t, they were usually labelled whores or communists. 

But here’s the thing. It’s 2019, not 1919. Why are so many of us modern women following an archaic fashion rule like a bunch of brainless lemmings? Consider this:

One of the greatest style makers of all time, Coco Chanel, wore white year-round.

photo of coco chanel wearing white suitGlamour

During the 2016 U.S. election, many women sported white at the polls as a tribute to suffragettes who wore it to protests (after Labour Day, no less) while fighting for the right to vote. 

female suffragettes wearing white to a protest in the 1900'sHuffington Post

We’ve got AC, our own money, state-of-the-art dry cleaning, and we’re pretty sure our pals would hang out with us even if it's October and we're wearing an ivory sweater.

Evening Standard

So come this September, we’re bucking the trend. Fashion police be damned. Those creamy bootcut jeans we bought in May were expensive, they make our butt look amazing, and quite frankly, we just can’t be bothered to put them away. 

F*$k fashion faux pas. Wear whatever you want, whenever you want it. We won’t judge you and neither should anyone else. 

Viva la blanca, and watch out for pumpkin spice latte stains.

 

Looking for white? Check out our styles below. 


Melissa Top

 
Courtney Blouse


Minnie Blouse

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