In reality, fashion has no rules.
Yes, there are self-imposed rules, rules set forth by fashion magazines, and even by society itself. But fashion is an art form, and a form of self-expression, allowing women to wear what they want when they want. Historical constraints be damned!
Long gone are the days when women had to wear floor-length dresses and corsets and were forbidden to wear pants. Over time, women have broken all the fashion rules that society has set. And that whole “No White After Labor Day” axiom is no exception.
I’m sure you grew up hearing that it was a fashion faux pas to don anything other than a crisp white shirt after Labor Day. No white pants, shoes, skirts, or even dresses. It seems such a shame to relegate a great neutral color, that pairs with anything, to only 6 months out of the year, right? Absolutely.
No White After Labor Day – Historical Perspective
Once upon a time, white was the color of summer. During the long hot months, wearing white kept a person cooler than the darker, drabber winter colors. Men wore white shirts, white suits, even white hats. Women wore white blouses or donned garments that were head-to-toe white. But when Labor Day became an official holiday in 1894, it also heralded the end of the summer season. (Even though the actual last day of summer in our part of the world is several weeks after that.)
White’s opposite—black—was once worn only by those in mourning, but as you well know, black is now an everyday norm. So just like black, white can be worn by anyone, any time of the year.
This doesn’t mean you can wear white sandals during a fall rainstorm; you still should be practical about your clothing choices. But wearing some stylish winter white pants, a white turtleneck, or even white denim in November or December is perfectly acceptable. Truly.
Integrating White into Your Fall & Winter Wardrobe
Since you now know you can wear white after Labor Day, let’s take a look at some stylish options for your fall and winter wardrobe and how you can put together a stylish white jeans outfit.
For many across the country, fall includes temperate—if not downright warm—weather. During late September and early October, you may still be wearing sleeveless and short-sleeved tops and dresses. That means you can continue to wear that cute white sheath dress you bought back in April. To give it more of an autumnal feel, you might add a jewel-toned cardigan or jacket, along with a darker pair of pumps.
That crisp white linen tank top will probably pair nicely with the hunter green suit you own or pair it with some wide-legged dress pants in gray and top it off with a cropped jacket in a great fall shade like burgundy or teal.
And don’t think that your white blazer needs to stay hidden in your closet. Paired with a vibrant purple dress and dark pumps for work, or dressed down with a gray turtleneck and black jeans are both stylish ways to get more wear out of this wardrobe staple. Same goes for white denim. Pair your favorite white jeans with suede booties and an oversized cardigan and you’ve got an appropriate and stylish fall outfit. If you need more ideas on how to wear white jeans make sure to take a look at my style guide; what to wear with white jeans – 16 Stylish Outfits!
Speaking of white denim, you can opt to wear them in winter, with the right color combination. One that I love is white and gray. White jeans paired with a gray turtleneck or sweater keep the white jeans from overpowering the outfit. Like in this outfit I would opt for a lighter gray than a dark charcoal gray. A light gray plays nicely with stark white jeans. (For more white denim pairings, check out this post for lots of white jeans outfit ideas!)
For winter, you can also opt for a softer winter white. It’s not so stark and will work better with more of winter’s muted and moody colors. You can easily find winter white dress pants (and in wool, they will keep you warmer anyway!). Or a warm winter white wrap coat is also a stylish and versatile option that you can pair with everything from jeans to party dresses.
Daring to Wear an All-White Outfit
I’m going to tell it as it is, wearing all white is very risky and a lot of work! You have to be extra careful when eating, you’re always watching where you sit to make sure it’s clean, you can’t lean up against the car because it’s dusty, and if you get one spot of dirt on your outfit the whole world will notice. I know it sounds a little extreme but that’s exactly how I felt when wearing this all-white look.
While I am wearing the white pants, top and blazer with sandals on a warm September day, I can move this into a more fall-looking outfit by swapping out the sandals for ballet flats, tennis shoes, or even ankle boots. I’d also add a scarf and tote in a darker color, maybe hunter green, to match the season.
Would you dare to wear all white? In the winter? I’d love to see your winter white outfit combinations! I hope this post has helped you learn how ‘no white after labor day’ originated and how the modern times has changed this well-know style rule.