What Do You Mean I Can’t Wear White After Labor Day???

September is officially in full swing, and you know what that means. Labor Day has come and gone, and summer is drawing to a close. It is now time to put away our summer clothes and prepare our wardrobes for our fall looks. Usually in September, people always refer to wearing white after Labor Day as a fashion faux pas. But why is this? Is this really a rule of fashion? Well, this odd fashion rule dates back to the mid-twentieth century, when fashion was a form of etiquette and good manners. Fashion was taken very seriously. In the summer months, there was no air-conditioners to help beat the heat, so the logical thing to do would be to change what clothes you’re wearing, right? In the 1900s, white, lightweight fabrics in the summer were the go-to to endure the high temperatures. Today, in the summer, we often grab a pair of shorts, sandals, and a light tee-shirt, but during this time period, clothing was much more formal.
In the twentieth century, class was a big deal. People with more money during the summer months would leave the drab city behind, and travel to their summer vacation destinations. Summer vacation looks are often lighter colored and made of lightweight fabrics. White summer attire was symbolic of a certain level of class and leisure. But once the summer was over, and everyone returned to their everyday lives, it was only proper style etiquette to retire the white summertime clothes.
Today, many people are challenging this as the fashion norm. We are now living in a society where class, rules, and fashion don’t really mix. People today are following the lead of many bloggers, celebrities, and designers who are kicking the century-old “No white after Labor Day” idea to the curb. After all, many fashion rules are meant to be broken.

Fitzpatrick, L. (2009). Why We Can’t Wear White After Labor Day.  Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1920684,00.html

Willis, C. (2016). Why do Americans insist on the ‘no white after Labor Day’ rule? Retrieved from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/why-do-americans-insist-on-the-no-white-after-labor-day-rule/news-story/4ce231da7b271ebfdb84832694204613


Gone Fishin’

Skirt (Pareo) of fine batiked cotton, Malaysia, 1997. Rainbow colored, with large fish motif in black. Label: “Noor Arfa.” Textiles and Clothing Museum, 997.1.7.


The blog will be back in the fall.


Current Exhibit: The Fashion Show 2017: Winning Entries

In the meantime, we hope you can come to Morrill Hall on the Iowa State campus to visit the Fashion Show 2017 Exhibit:  Winning Entries.  The exhibit runs April 27-June 30, 2017 and August 1-August 25, 2017 in the Mary Alice Gallery. The Gallery is open Monday-Friday 11-4 (closed University holidays). In July the Mary Alice Gallery is open by appointment only. More information about the exhibit is available, or you can call (515) 294-7474. A video highlighting some of the winning entries is below.