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In many parts of the United States, a rule about not wearing white after Labor Day, which takes place on the first Monday in September, is heavily ingrained. The roots of the idea that people should not wear white after Labor Day appear to be shrouded in mystery, and the rule has been greatly relaxed since the 1950s and 1960s, when it was more heavily enforced. People who choose to wear white into the fall are no longer heavily criticized for the choice, and are sometimes embraced as fashion forward trendsetters.
The most common confusion about the rule which forbids people to wear white after Labor Day is what garments, exactly, are involved. Originally, the restriction applied only to white dress shoes and pumps, which are typically unsuitable for winter weather anyway. At some point, the rule was extended to white clothing, but it was in fact always acceptable to wear “winter white” clothing in cream and other off-white colors. Winter brides have also always been allowed to wear whatever they please.
There are several theories about the the rule that governs people who wear white after Labor Day. The first and most sensible is that it reminded people not to wear summer weight clothing during the winter. It may be tempting to don a pair of light pumps in the crisp weather of early fall, but changing weather can make it an unwise decision. By not wearing white shoes after Labor Day, people can ensure that they don't end up with soiled, cold shoes. It is also conceivable that the the rule was adopted as part of a larger movement to “educate” the nouveau riche. Older society families were concerned about the fashion etiquette of more recent additions, and established a complex code of fashion rules to guide them.
Whatever the origins of the idea, restrictions on people who wear white after Labor Day appear to be outmoded except in very traditional society. Many fashion designers offer white as part of their fall and winter lines, often in stunning pieces. In warmer areas of the United States, such as Hawaii and Florida, white is also a more acceptable color to wear year round, since unfavorable winter weather is not as much of an issue.
Like many other seemingly idiosyncratic fashion rules, the reasoning behind the ban on wearing white after Labor Day has probably faded from the public mind. For most people, it is safe to wear white at any time of year, although they may want to consider wearing the color in moderation in the fall and winter. In inclement weather, a more sensible color that does not show stains or water is advised.