As I was growing up – heck, even today – my mom has been a follower of that Fall Fashion Rule.
Oh, you know the one. Your mother or grandmother may have finger-wagged at you for the same thing: No white after Labor Day.
As I type this, a full week after Labor Day, my outfit consists of a bright white tank top, paired with black pants and an obnoxiously colored blue, aqua, black and white duster. I will surely pull out the patent leather open-toe ivory pumps again long before Memorial Day 2013. I have favorite white sweaters I don in December, January and February that I just cant wait to dig out of the suitcases in my closet.
Surely, no white after Labor Day has to be an outdated rule.
Flipping through the autumn 2012 catalog of Boden, I spy plenty of post-Labor Day white. Theres the white long-sleeved tee with the slim navy stripes; and the plain, off-white cotton peasant blouse under the gray, white and pink printed cardigan; and the ivory white cashmere sweater.
Indeed, wearing white after Labor Day is all about material, layering and the shade of white in question.
White sweaters, for example, sell well at BDazzling Boutique in Auburn, owner Carol Woodfin says.
I have a black and white sweater that is going (like) crazy. I cant keep them in, Woodfin says, and often, the sweater is a winter white, or shade of off-white such as eggshell or champagne.
This season, layering is trendy, and white is such a basic color that its ideal for layering. Woodfin suggests pairing a white sheer or loose-knit shirt over a colored tank or a white lace blouse over a black tank with black palazzo pants.
Its such a popular color that the rule, she says, is outdated.
Historically, folks stayed away from white after Labor Day for a logical reason: White was worn to stay cool indoors, before central air was as common as it is today, reported a 2009 Time magazine article.
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, and the no-white-after-Labor-Day decree harkens back to when wealthy Americans used to flee the city for warmer climates. After Labor Day, when it was time to come home, that white clothing was stored away until next year.
Very rarely is there actually a functional reason for a fashion rule, Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told Time.
The next time Im chided for my whites in winter, Im simply going to pull out Emily Posts Etiquette.
Even she says its OK to do.