Trends come and go. Style norms change decade after decade. But fashion's oldest (and most outdated) myth has managed to prevail through centuries and cultural shifts—still remaining one of the most Googled style questions to this day. With white boots becoming a wardrobe staple and an overload of winter-white coat options blanketing the market, why are we still asking if it's okay to wear the hue after Labor Day?
Where Did the Fashion "Rule" Even Come From?
Though it's unclear who invented this "rule," it originated among the elite in 19th-century America, explains Amanda Hallay, the fashion historian behind The Ultimate Fashion History, a popular YouTube channel. "It was a snobbish way for the upper echelons to distinguish themselves from the burgeoning nouveau riche."
As with most things, the fashion "don't" only continued to flourish into the 20th century because of the wealthy. "The rule really has more to do with wearing white before Labor Day than not wearing it after," Hallay reveals. "By the end of the 19th century, upper-class Americans escaped the summer heat of the city by retreating to the countryside or seaside, where white clothing remained free of the inevitable grime of the increasingly industrialized urban centers. This was a sartorially social divide—only those who could afford to wear white could wear white. Not only did the wealthy summer in the far-cleaner countryside, but should their beautiful white dresses get dirty, they had servants to launder them."
So, Does It Still Apply Today?
The short answer? Absolutely not. In fact, winter white—from shoes and outerwear to knits and even white pants—is chicer than ever.
At some point along the way, the fashion rule attempted to transition into "no white shoes after Labor Day." But the white boot trend, which has remained a force for several seasons, has since debunked that myth. From cowboy boots and croc-embossed knee-high styles to two-toned black-and-white options, white kicks are an unexpectedly fresh way to accessorize even the bulkiest of winter ensembles.
Why Are People Still Following This Rule?
At a time when sneakers are worn with suits and streetwear is more coveted than classic designer items, why are so many people still clinging to such an outdated, strict fashion rule? "It speaks in part to tradition and a sartorial marking of the seasons, but moreover, Americans are far more class conscious than we like to believe. We've been programmed to believe that white after Labor Day is tacky, and I think it will take a couple more decades for the 'rule' to completely disappear," Hallay says.
In the spirit of breaking fashion rules once and for all, add some white to your fall and winter wardrobe. Leave the rules of the elite in the past where they belong.
You Might Also Like