I don’t know about you, but lately its been pretty warm for a February in Austin. It just gets me in the mood for Spring and Summer. I’ve always been taught, mostly by my mother and grandmother, that white after Labor Day and before Easter is the makings of a major fashion disaster. So in the South, we are lucky enough that it’s still hot until October and getting fairly warm in February. I’m not so sure I’m ready to whip out the sandals and flips flops along with white shorts just quite yet.
I will admit, I do fight with the little voice in my head (that coincidentally sounds just like my mom) telling me not to wear white shoes and pretty much anything white from the waist down until after Easter. In the past, the Monday after Easter, I was almost dressed in head to toe white because I had missed seeing that color among my fashion essentials.
It is fascinating to read where the tradition of no white after Labor Day (before Easter) may have come. A Time article from several years ago offered the most popular theories.
But beating the heat became fashionable in the early to mid-20th century, says Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion. “All the magazines and tastemakers were centered in big cities, usually in northern climates that had seasons,” he notes. In the hot summer months, white clothing kept New York fashion editors cool. But facing, say, heavy fall rain, they might not have been inclined to risk sullying white ensembles with mud — and that sensibility was reflected in the glossy pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, which set the tone for the country.
Instead, other historians speculate, the origin of the no-white-before–Easter rule may be symbolic. In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of choice for Americans well-to-do enough to decamp from their city digs to warmer climes for months at a time: light summer clothing provided a pleasing contrast to drabber urban life. ‘If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you’ll see people in dark clothes,” says Scheips, many scurrying to their jobs. By contrast, he adds, the white linen suits and Panama hats at snooty resorts were “a look of leisure.’
Lately, it appears that the fashion designers have become a little more lax than in times past. In fact, some designers just call it “winter white”. Personally, I think it’s all about the fabric. Clearly, you’re not going to wear white eyelet shorts in December. But, you could wear winter white corduroy shorts with tall boots and leg warmers.
I definitely followed the rule into my 20s but now after two kids and a more mature attitude, I’m thinking screw it! Who cares? It’s hot out, and I have some good-looking white shorts and denim jeans that I am going to wear on into October and maybe if I’m in the rebel mood, starting this month in February. Truth be told though, I just cannot wear white shoes but that’s kinda the case all year round unless they’re my go-to Converse then I say SO WHAT!!?
So what about you? Will you follow the no-white rule after Labor Day and before Easter? What white articles of clothing are you willing to wear?