White After Labor Day



This rule is often cited: Don’t wear white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day. Well, rules are meant to be broken and I would argue that one should not blindly follow this rule about white. I assume the rule exists as a warning against wearing summer clothing in the winter. And I’m not suggesting wearing a white summer-weight Gatsby suit in the dead of winter. But I think the rule is, pardon the pun, too black and white.

White is certainly an appropriate color for summer. According to Marion Maneker, author of Dressing in the Dark, “[i]n the nineteenth century, white was the most fashionable summer color for men. Before air conditioning, summer clothes were prized more for their open weaves and ability to reflect the heat than for any great variety of hue.” Keeping that in mind, consider that Labor Day was a couple of weeks ago and the temperatures here in the American South are still in the nineties. It’s still a bit warm here for tweed and flannel. My point is that clothing should be worn seasonally based on the temperatures in your region and not based on some arbitrary date on the calendar.

If worn correctly, white is also an appropriate color for fall and winter. The fabric just needs to be right for the season. Consider, for instance, the classic Aran cable sweater that is traditionally made from undyed cream-colored sheep’s wool. Such a sweater would pair well on a fall weekend with dark blue jeans or gray flannel trousers and maybe a Barbour waxed cotton jacket. Another fall outfit might include white jeans paired with a dark green or navy wool blazer and suede desert boots.

I would suggest that part of developing your own style involves knowing the rules, understanding why they exist, and then bending or breaking them if they don’t make sense for you. Feel free to wear white after Labor Day.


Andrew Hodges is a small-town Southern lawyer and author of a-southern-gentleman.blogspot.com, a blog about classic style and culture in the American South


  1. chris riddell says:

    for years I have had my jeans hemmed to my personal preference. A local ”franchise” alteration shop does a european hem that resembles the original