Well, Excuse Me, If I Wear White.

Speaking of change….

Do you know where I parked my horse? or my lion?

I have the fashion sense of ranchers on a three-day ride to the circus.  I’m not quite sure what that means, but it conjures up some interesting images of attire.

I recently wore white to a social function AFTER LABOR DAY.  Now, I don’t usually wear white at all because too many of my body parts are turning white (hair, eye brows, elbows). Zombies seem to have more color than me anymore. So the only reason I wore white to this fa-la-la affair was…all of my more colorful costumes were dirty.

The fashion police gave me the ol’ up and down look, accompanied by the knowing smirk we’ve come to recognize since junior high. And these were my friends. I shudder to think what others were saying.  Well…actually I didn’t give a damn. If I had—I would’ve followed the rules.  But that got me thinking….

Who Made the Stupid No Wearing White After Labor Day Rule???

No one’s sure, but they think it had to do with snobbery.

After the Civil War it was hard to tell the difference between the Old-Money Rich and those Yankee-Carpetbagger-Upstart-Vulgar Rich.

So, in the 1880s, the women of old money, and even older family name, created complex social rules for the “knowing.”  If a lady showed up at the ball in a gown that had the wrong sleeve length, the other fine ladies could shun her and her new money in a seemingly gracious, but truly smirky manner.

Not wearing white for fall galas seems to be one of these rules. When Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, it became the official cut-off for summer, thus the unspoken end of white clothing. So this snooty rule trickled down to the rest of us middle class cretins, aided by women’s magazines which made it dogma.

I bet I can create a perfume that’ll be a best seller for over 90 years.

By the 2000s, the rules have thankfully relaxed, due to  a woman’s best friend, Coco Chanel. She made her own rules for which we ranching/circus/fashion-challenged are thankful

She wore white year-round. 

and gave us….

  • The “Little Black Dress. (1926)
    • Tweed Suits (1920s)
    • Bell bottoms (1954)

She also felt, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it’s not luxury.”

Now there’s a woman who knows fashion. And I bet she could smirk, too.

What fashion rules do you follow (or break) ?

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Change, Humor, Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Well, Excuse Me, If I Wear White.

  1. I love winter white, but it must be in a sturdy fabric. Guess there’s enough old rule follower in me to accept it in cordurory or wool or a thick knit, but not in a lighter cotton unless it’s just a tee shirt. You know, writing this comment, makes me feel a little foolish. I think I’ll go put on white leggings and say the hell with the rules. Rock the white.


  2. Geeez! It’s a good thing I don’t own anything white, except for my underwear. Does that count? Am I a fashion cretin?


  3. digipicsphotography says:

    Well, then i guess nurses wearing white year round makes them subject to ridicule. But who cares what the fashion rules are. Wear what’s comfortable. Fashion police can go take a long walk off a short pier.


    • Barb says:

      Sharon, you make me realize that I haven’t seen a nurse in white in a long, long time. Mostly they’re in pastel-colored clothes. I’m going tot he hospital tommorrow. I’ll make it a quest to find someone in white.


      • digipicsphotography says:

        I work in a nursing home where the standard color is Navy Blue or White. One of the nurses I worked with would only wear white. So you will probably find someone wearing white. Let me know what you find.


  4. Nisha says:

    You know I always wondered what they meant on American tv shows and movies when they made jokes about wearing white after Labour Day…

    To follow or break the fashion rules, you need to know what the rules are first. Which unfortunately I don’t…


  5. tori nelson says:

    I’ve never followed fashion rules mostly because I can’t keep up with them. Sweatpants are always classy, right? RIGHT?


  6. JSD says:

    Didn’t you see the piece on TV last week about wearing white after Labor Day? It is quite stylish, though the choice of design/fabric was being discussed. Anyway, so much for those giving you the evil eye…they obviously are out of the loop. Great picture! You look wonderful!


  7. Barb, you got off lucky, just getting a smirk for your fashion faux pas. In the movie, “Serial Mom,” (1994), Kathleen Turner was a killer. One of the offenses she killed for was anyone who wore white after Labor Day. A dark and funny film.
    By the way, like you, I wear white year round. 🙂


  8. T E Stazyk says:

    I don’t break of follow the rules–I set them!


    • Barb says:

      Me too. But most of my rules have to do with faulty elastic that allows pants to ride down to my knees. Jethro of the Clampetts had a good idea tying up his pants with a rope belt.


  9. Beth says:

    Oh well, I wear black in summer, so I may as well white in winter. In the PNW who can tell the difference? In the seasons, not the colors. Usually I wear purple and some permutation of green (with the black or white). There’s probably a rule about that too. Huh!


  10. Rose L. says:

    I never heard of the rule and so thus must have broken it lots of times. Thank goodness the fashion police did not see me. Is there a rule about wearing red or pink???


  11. I follow no fashion rules that I am aware (or none that I am aware of anyway). White trousers are dangerous in this house (for me) because the psycho cat from hell likes to treat me a scratching post. White with blood splatters probably breaks many fashion rules. Probably.


  12. souldipper says:

    Enjoyed seeing that photo of you, Barb. I notice that people who don’t have to give a damn, don’t. Too many think they have to! 😀


  13. I had no idea there was such a rule, Barb.

    That’s how much fashion sense I have got.


  14. momaescriva says:

    I have a question. If we aren’t supposed to wear white after Labor Day, then all the brides-to-be must wear ivory or ecru or hey, maybe red! It is a silly rule but we Northwesterners have our own code… plaid shirts and flip flops!


  15. This tale made me think of the church ladies in your great little book. I don’t remember them keeping the white rule, but I bet they did. As for me, I wear color–year round–because all of me, like you, is white and if I don’t wear color I fear someone–maybe fashion police–will think I’m a corpse.


    • Barb says:

      Why, of course, that micro-managing Vera keeps all the rules, it’s all those other church ladies she can’t control.
      And I know what you mean about looking like a corpse. I tell myself the zombie look is IN.


  16. I usually wear black. You sometimes get funny looks in that colour too, Barb!
    Yes, I agree. It’s a stupid rule!


  17. Red says:

    I love the picture of you! Coco and I would have gotten along famously. I am the eternal fashion plate, even when in jeans. I am always in a pair of heels (nothing shy of 4″), generally at least one silk and matching jewelry. That does not mean I do not carry a straw purse large enough to hide Jimmy Hoffa in December or wear a full length white chiffon number to holiday dances or skip the red shoes at weddings. I rarely try to upstage the bride, but that is pretty much where I draw my fashion line. Oh, and no PJ pants in public. Ever. Carpool line if I am that late, but certainly not outside the car.
    xxx ❤


    • Barb says:

      Red, you’re so cool. I’d love to wear heels, but the true fact is I’m just too lazy. I thin it’s a crime that comfortable shoes are always ugly. Sigh.


      • Red says:

        I own precisely three pairs of ugly shoes. None of them have a heel over 2″ and they are truly hideous. One my late husband called my “pilgrim shoes” because of the large buckles. Meh. Wear what you like. I walk funny in flat shoes 😉


  18. Jon says:

    My favorite color is plaid and I wear it all year. Frank Fashion-Conscious I am not.


  19. Al says:

    I just had to look up the word “fashion” in the dictionary. Does that help?

    P.S.I agree with emjay. Very nice picture!


  20. Roxie Matthews says:

    I’m the one with hot pink galoshes and a collection of hats. The fashion police have looked askance at me most of my adult life. Everything we wear is a costume of some kind, so why not have fun with it? Anyhow, I thought it was no white SHOES after labor day because of the mud. And no white coats for mothers of children under the age of eleven, because even a ten-year-old will vomit down your back.


  21. I’ve never been a fashion plate, and never much gave a diddle what the “rlues” said about what I should and shouldn’t wear, but now that I’m (ahem) “mature”, I don’t even pretend to care anymore. Comfort over style is my motto. Right now, I’m wearing bell bottom sweat pants. Do you think I care that they may very well be the only pair left in the world, or that they may, in fact, be an endangered species? Heck, no! I also use a fanny pack for pretty much all occasions. My favorite one is red. Who SAYS it isn’t “appropriate” to wear the thing to church??? Life’s too short to care what anybody else says about your wardrobe. If ya wanta wear white, wear white! (I do.)


  22. funnysister says:

    It is a silly rule! Not wearing white to a wedding is a stupid one, too. As if anyone is going to see this 50-yr old and her arms wearing a sleeveless white dress, and mistake her for the stunning, glamorous and radiant bride! My personal summer rule is to always carry a straw purse….the cheaper the better…fun, fashion FREEDOM!


  23. katecrimmins says:

    I wear winter white with pastels especially for the holidays. It stands out from all the other black and red outfits. Actually anything white you wear after Labor Day you can call winter white and just be done with it.


  24. dorannrule says:

    Oh, this is a grand post! Do you think I can get away with “winter white?” I’m afraid to wear black patent leather shoes too, and straw handbags this time of year. Wonder if I should venture out in those in mid December to cause a stir around town.


  25. Elyse says:

    Mostly, I wear what’s clean. Ish. But that’s not breaking a rule, is it???

    I always felt fortunate to have come of age in the late 60s — when blue jeans were the “fashion” and I didn’t really have to bother with all those rules. Dress cleanly, professionally (when appropriate) and leave it at that!

    Great reminder Barb.


  26. I love that top you’re wearing! btw


  27. emjayandthem says:

    It is a stupid rule. I wore white jeans on a 75 degree October day and loved every minute of it 🙂

    I don’t consider myself very fashionably brave but I do break the rules and wear lots of color whenever possible. I just can’t do the office greige … ugh.

    Fun post, Barb! And … great picture 🙂



    • Barb says:

      Thanks M.J. Don’t you get tired of trying to figure out what to wear? I do. Some day I stand in front of my clothes and wish I could go naked. But….welll…..


      • emjayandthem says:

        I do … and that’s why I cleaned my closet out with this rule in mind: If it doesn’t fit or flatter me or make me feel happy when I wear it .. it’s gone. My closet is a lot less jammed and it’s now full of my favorites – teal, purple, turquoise, black/grey/silver, pink and lime 🙂


  28. jmgoyder says:

    I’m glad you wore white – what a stupid rule anyway!


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