WTF Fun Fact 13386 – Wearing White Before Memorial Day

Wearing white between Memorial Day and Labor Day has long been a fashion tradition in the United States. We often associate it with the summer season. In some places, Americans still consider this custom a style guideline, and people may still follow it in more formal or traditional settings.

The origins of wearing white between Memorial Day and Labor Day

The late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the emergence of a fashion rule that linked wearing white to staying cool in hot weather. People then deemed it appropriate for summer attire. This rule predominantly gained popularity among the upper classes. They often spent summers at vacation resorts or country estates. Wearing white garments, particularly lightweight fabrics, allowed them to reflect sunlight and remain cool. It also became a symbol of fashion and social status.

Over time, the tradition of wearing white between Memorial Day and Labor Day became deeply ingrained in American culture. Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in late May. Labor Day in early September, signifies its end. These holidays, therefore, served as bookends for this period of traditional white attire.

Violating fashion norms

Wearing white after Labor Day was generally discouraged as it was seen as a violation of established fashion norms. This was eventually the case among all social classes. The belief was that white was more suitable for warm-weather occasions, and transitioning to darker, autumnal colors was considered appropriate as the season changed.

Middle and lower class people also adopted the custom. This is in part because dressing is a way of socially conforming or trying to project one’s class. Wearing white was an aspirational mimicking of what the wealthy class was doing.

Breaking rules

However, fashion rules have evolved, and the strict adherence to the “no white after Labor Day” rule has waned in modern times. Many individuals now choose to wear white throughout the year, and fashion trends have become more individualistic, breaking away from traditional guidelines.

While the significance of the “no white after Labor Day” rule has diminished, some people and social circles may still choose to adhere to it as a personal preference or a nod to traditional fashion etiquette. Ultimately, the decision to wear white or any other color during a specific time of the year is a matter of personal style and choice.

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Source: “Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Fashion’s perennial rule, explained.” — USA Today

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