Labor Day Repost: The End of Whites in the Wardrobe?

Labor Day weekend is upon us, and fashion-conscious people everywhere are confronting an annual question: Is it appropriate to wear white after Labor Day?

There has always been a “no white after Labor Day” debate among fashionistas and the style-conscious. While it is uncertain where the rule originally began, many say it had to do with society and class structure, while others credit the changing seasons. Regardless, most of us really do, or should, care about the image we project.

My take on the issue is to err on the side of caution and banish those white shoes to the back of the closet until next year.  Truth be known, I don’t actually own a pair of solid white shoes but I have plenty of other white articles of clothing that are going to take a back seat for the next nine months such as a beautiful white sundress, some bright white sunglasses (that I should probably banish forever), and a great handbag that screams summer fun.  I am also temporarily retiring my white jeans and all of my white linen (which never looks good because it is always wrinkled). I also have a few items that will remain in my wardrobe rotation like a beautiful white cashmere sweater that looks fabulous with a pair of dark wool pants. (I am certain I look taller and more attractive every time I wear that particular outfit.)  A crisp white cotton shirt is a year around staple and my winter white coatdress is ready for the cold weather. But, all in all, I wear white with caution after Labor Day and concentrate on variations of winter white, beige and cream.

Another respected opinion comes from manners expert and author Thomas P. Farley who edited the “Social Graces” column for Town & Country magazine for nearly a decade. His Modern Manners anthology (Hearst Books) went into multiple printings, and he is presently at work on his next tome, on tech etiquette. He says, “The fashion industry abandoned the dictum of no white after Labor Day long ago, and I think it’s time that we in the etiquette world do so as well. Far more important is wearing attire that is appropriate to the formality (or lack thereof) of the occasion. Beyond that, regardless of the season, I believe that men and women alike should exercise the confidence to select attire that makes them feel, look and–perhaps most important of all–act their very best.” (follow him on Twitter at @mistermanners and on his web site and blog, www.whatmannersmost.com)

That’s the key!  In order to look your best you must feel good about what you are wearing, regardless of the color or the particular season. But I implore you, when going on an important job interview, grab a dark colored suit any time of year!

Here are more thoughts on the subject from respected peers and other experts:

“If you are a female and live in a warm climate, then white shoes are appropriate just about 9 months out of the year – especially if you are wearing a light color suit or outfit. If you are a man, white shoes are not appropriate unless you are in a very creative field.”
Juanita Ecker
Professional Image Management
www.professionalimagemgt.com/index.cfm
www.twitter.com/JuanitaEcker
 

 

“Although the fashion industry and some experts say that it is indeed OK to wear white after Labor Day, it is still a burning question amongst many of us because it just doesn’t feel “right.” I am a proponent of wearing white shoes up until the end of the September (depending on weather conditions) but after that it’s a no go. White shoes (pumps, sandals, wedges, loafers, etc.) are typically made of lighter fabrics and leathers, are more “strappy” in nature which exposes more of the foot making it very difficult to transition into a fall wardrobe which consists of heavier fabrics and darker color palettes. There is too much of a contrast between the whiteness of the shoe and the deeper, richer apparel selections leaving the ensemble looking disconnected.”
Jacqueline M. Peros
Certified Image & Style Expert
www.jmpstyle.com
www.twitter.com/imagestylexpert 
 

 

“Although I don’t tout my expertise to be in the world of fashion, I do know a thing or two about the power of personal brand. Some think etiquette is about dos and don’ts but really it is here to help us put our best foot forward. Something that’s hard to do with a dirty white shoe and can easily happen in the fall and winter months. But if your heart is set on white, winter white is much more forgiving… and where etiquette is concerned forgiving is a good thing.”
Minday Lockard
Mindy Lockard Gracious Living
www.MindyLockard.com/blog
www.twitter.com/MonthlyManner
 

 

“Unless you want to look like a fashion victim you cannot wear White Shoes/ Linen/ Sandals/Straw Handbags/Seersucker/Other Warm-Weather Clothes before Memorial Day or after Labor Day…the answer is a firm no.”
Lesley Carlin
The Etiquette Grrls
www.etiquettegrrls.com/
www.twitter.com/LesleyCarlin
 

 

“Living in Ottawa Canada, white shoes are put away soon after Labour Day. Of course, in September we are forced to bring out our light sweaters and darker colours usually emerge too.  Black skirt and pants are the basis of our corporate wardrobe and white shoes would jump out as glaringly inappropriate.”
Suzanne Nourse
Protocol School of Ottawa
www.etiquetteottawa.com/
www.Twitter.com/EtiquetteOttawa
 

 

“In general, white is acceptable to wear after Labor Day – especially if it looks great on you.  When it comes to shoes, I recommend reserving all-white shoes and sandals for special occasions like weddings as most were designed for brides.  An all-white boot is not practical in sloppy weather and will draw a distracting amount of attention to your feet unless your entire outfit and your overcoat is white.”
Sasha Westin
Personal Style Concierge
www.fabuliss.com/
www.twitter.com/fabuliss
 

 

“White can be a dangerous color to wear for work regardless of the time of year – it shows marks and dirt too easily!”
Barbara Pachter
Pachter & Associates
www.pachter.com/
www.twitter.com/barbarapachter
 

 

And…one final opinion:

“As long as your shoes have lots of glitter, it’s okay to wear white all year long.”
Emily Rose
Age 10
 
Signature

Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national modern manners and etiquette expert, sought out industry leader, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger’s, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. Her blog has been named by Forbes as one of “The 100 Best Websites for Women, 2013.” She is a regular guest on two popular morning talk shows, SA Living, NBC, and Good Day Austin, FOX. She has been seen on TODAY with KLG and Hoda, HLN Headline News, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.

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