The Long-Standing 'No White After Labor Day' Fashion Rule, Explained


Cook, Motivationist and Nutritionist.

Valerie Steele, the director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology told Newsweek that classism was definitely part of the formation of the no-white rule, “It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules.” The theory goes that old money elites, who were upset by changes in social mobility, instituted the no-white rule as a way to hold themselves apart from the newly rich, non-generationally wealthy growing middle class of the time. Elites believed that the nouveau rich social climbers wouldn’t know the rule because they didn’t belong to the same “class”. 

There’s also a practical element to the no-white rule, namely that white can be difficult to wear, especially in any kind of weather. Given that the fashion publications (aka editors who could and did disseminate these kinds of fashion rules) and the who’s who of the fashion world were located in big cities that, geographically, dealt with seasons, it’s practical that they would switch back to darker colors for fall. Who among us doesn’t love a separate vacation-specific wardrobe? Or, similarly, a new fall wardrobe? It is also possible that the white rule was simply born from the practical reality of having to return to real life after summer vacation. Steele elaborated, “You’re back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you’re doing in the fall — and so you have a new wardrobe.”


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