Why No White
After Labor Day?

How’d this become a thing? And we don’t have to pay attention to it anymore, right?

Why no white clothing after Labor Day?
Why no white clothing after Labor Day?

Now that Labor Day has unofficially marked the end of summer, it's time to really start dressing. Now, if you’re one to ascribe to old fashioned rules, you might be ready to pack up your white pants and jackets. I've never been one for rules. Rules are made to be broken. (Adages, on the other hand, you can trust.)

But where’d this “no white after Labor Day” rule come from? Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion, told Time that wearing white in the summer was a practical way to stay cool. But that “all the magazines and tastemakers were centered in big cities, usually in northern climates that had seasons.” And facing, say, heavy fall rain, they might not have been inclined to risk sullying white ensembles with mud—and that sensibility set the tone for the country.

Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, believes there may have been classism at play in reinforcing the rule in the 1950s helping to separate old money elites from the nouveau riche. “It was insiders trying to keep other people out and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules,” she said.

But as Vogue plainly puts it: such old-school fashion don’ts are themselves outdated and irrelevant. Just ask today’s tastemakers. InsideHook did just that and the results were unanimous: the rule is simply bogus.

“I love the way a ‘winter white’ look pairs with a charcoal cashmere sweater or Harris tweed,” says WM Brown founder Matt Hranek. “I love white corduroy as well and long for the first crisp day to roll them out.”

Designer Todd Snyder agrees the old rule is antiquated but offers a nice side-step. “If you’re stuck in the old days, you can play with off-white bottoms—they have no start or end date. Whatever you choose, please make sure you update the shoes … a boot can really offset a light (or white) jean.”

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Labor Day icon


While the first picnic and parade took place in New York in 1882, Labor Day didn’t become an official a federal holiday until 1894.

Want Some?

Now’s a great time to pick up a pair of white pants, because you can get so many on sale. Here are just a few smart buys we’ve found in various shades.

Todd Snyder 5-Pocket Corduroys

5-pocket corduroys,
$168 / $129 by Todd Snyder

adidas Always Om Yoga Pants

Always Om yoga pants,
$60 / $42 by adidas

Corridor Drawstring Pants

Drawstring pants,
$148 / $74 by Corridor