Posted On September 8, 2014 By In Fashion For Men, Fashion For Women, Girlzone

Rules of Society: How Labor Day Affected The Fashion World


Throughout history, Labor Day has been one of the major holidays that has impacted fashion. In some form or another, I’m sure you have heard the saying “Don’t wear white after Labor Day!” Why is this? Why all of a sudden is a color forbidden? Well, it all started in the 1800’s, early 1900’s.  Wearing white was a symbol of wealth. Since laborers couldn’t afford to take time off of work for vacation they would always wear their blue collar uniforms/outfits. The wealthier would always show of their wealth by wearing white since most of the population couldn’t afford it. Luckily for them, white helps with the heat and the summer’s scorching sun.

As new money emerged, the ladies of old money felt that it was necessary to implement dozens of fashion rules that society had to follow. For instance, if a woman showed up at the opera in a dress that cost more money than someone’s house, but had the wrong sleeve length because they were new to the high society, women wouldn’t give them the time of day. Wearing white was strictly worn before Labor Day, as well as, only being appropriate for weddings and resort wear, not dinner parties in fall. On the contrary, there have been many fashion icons, such as Coco Chanel, that continually wore white year round.

Labor Day is also the closest holiday of the transition when summertime ends and fall begins. It became a federal holiday in 1894 so society then adopted it as the natural holiday for summer. Although some places are still incredibly hot, it’s an exact date to an end.

Even though the rule was originally enforced by a few hundred women, through the decades it trickled down to everyone else. As traditions were passed down, fashion publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, etc. kept society honoring the saying  by continually telling the population that it’s a “definite” rule. By the 1950’s women’s magazines made it clear to the middle class that white clothing came out on Memorial Day and away of Labor Day. These days, the fashion world is much more relaxed and “allows” all societies to wear white past the federal holiday.

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Victoria Wilmoth is a fashion writer for Writtalin. Victoria is a published fashion designer who is currently featured in André Leon Talley's world-wide "Little Black Dress" exhibit. Her expertise is in haute couture and bridal gowns. She is currently studying trends and fashion merchandising in the fashion industry. You can email Victoria at: [email protected]