Fashion Rules on Trial: Never wear white after Labor Day

Can you wear white after labor day
Coat: La Redoute

“Never wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.”

If this so-called fashion rule is to be believed, we should have spent this weekend packing away every last piece of white clothing in our closets, and resigning ourselves to an autumn and winter of blacks, greys and browns, with perhaps the odd “pop” of jewel-toned colour, which fashion magazines are always telling us are de rigueur at this time of year.

Did we, though? Oh, hell, no. We don’t know about you, but we spent the weekend drinking wine and trying on shoes we can’t afford. What else are weekends for, after all? They’re certainly not for clearing out closets and removing every last trace of white, because, seriously:

White t-shirts?

White sweaters?

Thick white coats?

You’re seriously going to avoid wearing any of those items until MAY, just because of some silly “rule”, invented in days gone by, when the streets were far dirtier than they are now, “public transport” meant a horse and cart, and the “no white after Labor day” rule was more about keeping your clothes clean, than being fashionable? If so, you’re probably on the wrong website, because The Fashion Police firmly believe you should discard all fashion “rules”, and apply simple common sense to your clothing choices instead. In this case, that would mean asking yourself:

1. Is it warm enough?

2. Will it be easy to keep it clean?

Aaaand, that’s pretty much it on the “white after Labor day” rule, to be perfectly honest.  Of course you can wear white after Labor Day! You can wear white it any time you want, as long as it’s the right white: for instance, you probably wouldn’t want to go for bright-white trousers if you were taking a walk in a muddy, mid-winter field (in fact, you maybe wouldn’t want to wear bright white trousers at all, but that’s another matter altogether), and  a white cotton dress could look just a little out of place in the middle of December, but winter white is a great colour for wool coats and jackets, and ain’t nothing wrong with some white knitwear now, is there?


Well, IS there? What do YOU think of the “No white after Labor day” rule? Outdated, or totally relevant to today’s society?



  • November 20, 2007


    Try to get me to give up my crisp white button-downs and see how far you get.

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  • November 22, 2007


    Coming from Australia, I don’t really know what this whole no-white-after-Labour-day thing is about. I’ve heard the term in countless movies, but was distracted quickly the only time I tried to research it.
    I have no issues with wearing white (unless it’s white denim or similar).
    And does this rule mean you Americans can’t wear white tops? I can’t afford a lot of clothes and I’m not very adventurous, so most of my wardrobe is black, some white, and a few sprinkles of pink.
    Can someone explain this strange rule to me?

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  • November 22, 2007


    That rule is almost unknown in most of the US except the South, and we adhere to it pretty strictly still. When the Duchess of York visited Texas it was in all the papers that she wore a white dress in November. I say: coats, wool, dress shirts, boots etc. super cool (I actually love winter white) but dresses, trousers, shoes a no-no. Unless you’re visiting the Caribbean, and I would count Florida because I’ll probably never get to go to the Caribbean.

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    • September 3, 2013


      Really? I live in the South, and I didn’t know that people actually followed this rule here. Maybe it depends on the part of the South.

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