The White After Labor Day Myth and Him

Can Men Wear White After Labor Day?

No matter what gender you are, if you care at all about fashion or style then you’ve certainly heard about the faux paux of wearing white after the Labor Day holiday (or Labour Day, if you’re Canadian). However, we all know that fashion and style aren’t as hard and fast a set of rules as they used to be. And we all know that some rules that apply to the ladies just aren’t as applicable to the men. Today on the Jan Leslie blog, we’re tacking the topic of white after Labor Day and what it means to him.

First Things First, Is It Still Taboo to Wear White After Labor Day?

To begin this discussion, it’s important to understand why the white after Labor Day rule originated. The common belief (though nobody can confirm for sure) is that the rule originated at a time when the wealthier classes left the city during the summer. White is what they wore in the cleaner areas of the shore and country, and darker colors were reserved for “getting back to business” in the city. Why is this important? Because we’re guessing that the context of why people didn’t wear white after Labor Day doesn’t apply to you – or most other people – anymore.  Even American “royalty” like the Kennedy’s or the Clintons don’t “summer” any more. So if you’re not living the lifestyle, why would you follow the rules? So the short answer is that the basic rule of not wearing white after Labor Day really doesn’t matter anymore. In fact, fashion icon Coco Chanel wore white all year long, and if she can do it anybody can. However, with all of that said, there is a basic seasonality to fashion, and there are some white choices you may not want to make after Labor Day (or as the summer winds down).

White Gemstone CufflinksAppropriate Whites Anytime … Jan Leslie Thick Mother-of-Pearl White Cufflinks

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So What White Should You Avoid?

You don’t need to pack up your white shirts, but as a basic rule you may want to reconsider “white below the belt.” It’s not just that it looks summery, but if you don’t live in a year-round summer climate (see the note below!), then it won’t be very late in the day before your white attire looks messy and grey. So when the end of summer hits, it’s time to pack up: White Shoes: We love the look of white shoes in the right instance, but winter and fall dirt and grime will destroy the look … and the shoes themselves. White Pants: Even if they’re a heavier material that will keep you warm in the cooler months, they’re still likely to get dirty near the cuffs rather quickly. But a better rule of thumb is to not just limit what you’re packing up for the next four to six months to items that are white. You’re a smart guy, you know which fabrics are too light for winter and which bright colors might be better left for the spring and summer months.

For You Lucky Summer All Year Long Men

The better rule than “no white after Labor Day” is “wear what’s appropriate to the weather.” That means that if you’re lucky enough to live in Miami, there’s no reason not to wear white pants and shoes all year long. Basically, wear what’s appropriate. That’s not going to be the same in Boston in January as it is in Los Angeles in January!   Photo Credit: Satish Krishnamurthy via Flickr