Q: Is it acceptable to wear white jeans after Labor Day?
This question continues to pop up in our lives and I thought it was time to do some deep thinking on it. When I was asked this question my immediate answer was “No, it’s the rule”. But then I questioned myself- who made this rule? Where did this rule come from? So, to answer my questions and the question of is it acceptable or not, I did some research on the history behind the “No White Jeans After Labor Day” rule and here’s what I found.
The rule started in the early 1900s when fashion rules were very strict and formal as the seasons changed. Wearing white not only meant that you were on trend, but it also signified that you were wealthy enough to buy garments that made you sweat as little as possible in the scorching summer sun. Basically, wearing white in the heat (remember this was in the pre-AC days in 100F temps) meant you could afford to ruin it. But wearing white after Labor Day (the official end to summer in the United States) at the time might make you the talk of the town (not in a good way). Why? White was a summer specific social statement. No exceptions. Wealthy people who lived in New York would come back from the Hamptons after summer and switch out their whites for darker shades for fall.
There was an interview with a NYC stylist on Harper’s Bazaar and she also answered the same question of “Where did the rule of no white jeans before labor day start?”. She says, “New York experiences four very contrasting seasons (summer hot summers and very cold winters), white fabrics reflect sunlight whereas black absorbs it. It makes sense to wear colours that will keep you cooler in the warmer months; like white. It’s very rare for a cold season colour palette to consist of white unless it is a ‘winter white’ accent colour.”
While it’s not necessarily to follow such a hard and fast rule among the fashion conscious these days, the rule is still carried on in American culture today and designers continue to keep the rule in mind when creating their latest collections.
The NYC stylist says, “Also, during the colder months, when you’re wearing darker coloured leathers, boots, and dealing with rain, snow and unpredictable US weather, it is harder to pair them fashionably with white clothing. “Having said that, it’s really your choice in the end. I admire anyone who goes against the norm and any rules. Most New Yorkers would agree!”
Reading her answers, it makes sense. Winters in NYC get cold and dirty and who would want to get their new white jeans all muddy when you could wear black jeans instead?
In conclusion, I agree with her. After learning about where the rule came from it seems to me rich New York women made the rule years ago, and with so much diversity in this day and age I say go for it–life’s too short to not wear what you want. I think if you’re comfortable in it, nothing should hold you back, not even a rule that was made years ago by elite New Yorkers who only cared about social statements when it came to fashion. So, forget the rule, some rules in fashion are made to be broken so you can move forward with the latest trends and ideas. Fashion is changing, and so should its crazy rules. So go for it, nothing, not even a rule is holding you back.