Can I Wear White After Labor Day?

The Rule:  Stow Your Whites Until Next Summer

Wear white after Labor Day? White shirtDoes it still stand?

Some rules make very good sense; at least at the time they’re created.  And then… well, things change. Remember the rule of courtesy that said not to phone a friend after 10pm?  Now we dial anyway, trusting our friend has silenced their mobile device if they don’t want to be disturbed. (If you’re too young to remember landline phones in the home, disregard that example.)

Back to white clothing…. Once upon a time, the city folks who were wealthy enough to whisk away to “summer in the country,” packed their white linen dresses, trousers, and Panama hats right along with their swim costumes.  Think: Great Gatsby style.  The white attire, not only more comfortable in the hot summer sun, was also an indicator of privilege.  Throughout history, white was the color of luxury in clothing.  (Imagine a middle-class laborer indulging the frivolity of this hard-to-keep-clean color.)   So it made sense that when summer was over, and the socialites returned to the city, the whites were packed away for the fall/winter season — too impractical on public transportation and early 20th-century unpaved streets.

Though today many of us live in moderately-clean environments year round, the rule continues to intimidate the best intentions at fall wardrobe planning.  So here it is, your permission to WEAR WHITE IN THE FALL.  That’s it.  Years of conditioning, dismissed.

Tips to Wear White this Fall:Wear-White-After-Labor-Day? suede-jacket

  • Choose heavier fabrics and materials.  Opt for white denim pants in place of breezy linen.  White leather booties create a fall vibe where white, mesh sandals do not.
  • Accessorize with fall colors and materials.  In the summer, you might pair your white jeans with a white straw bag and shell jewelry.  In the fall, choose tobacco, chocolate-colored, or black bag and shoes; jewelry of heavier-weight materials like metals or pearls.Wear white after Labor Day? white booties
  • Create a cool-weather theme.  If white is the backdrop of your outfit (pant and top), add a decidedly fall piece, like a textured, dark-colored jacket or skirt.
  • Use the small-dose strategy.  During the summer, you might favor a white-dominant outfit.  If you’re testing the waters of white in cool weather, try the unexpected white peeking out in the form of a collar beneath a fall sweater, or a shoe below Wear white after Labor Day? White shoes/collar.flannel trousers.  The latter is an especially effective strategy if white is not a flattering color to your facial features.  A pair of shoes makes an impact without compromising your best and brightest smile! More about your personal best colors here.

Have you worn white in the fall?  Will this be your first autumn-white adventure?  Share your own stories and tips.  I read all comments and would love to hear from you!


Want to learn more? Work with me.

Patty Buccellato is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups.

Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls! To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

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