I love rules. My brain seems to do well with the order and reason they provide, and as a result of such they often shape the activities in my life. The laws of mathematics led me to study physics, which in turn led me to engineering. In the same way, I became obsessed with the the rigidity of music theory and that interest led me to jazz music, where I learned how to apply and break those very rules. And, unsurprisingly, the rules of classic tailored clothing is exactly what got me interested in menswear in the first place. With that said, though, there is one thing that any great rule needs – a good reason for existing in the first place.
The “no white after Labor Day” rule is one that often gets thrown around by people that have no real interest in dressing well, but for some reason people still seem to concern themselves with its relevance. This outdated rule came about in a different era when clothing etiquette was much more regimented, and times have changed. Saying that white isn’t appropriate after Labor day is like saying that sneakers are only appropriate for athletics – if you still believe that it’s true, you’re either desperately out of touch or have been looking at Apparel Arts illustrations for too long.
I think white can look great all year round, regardless of the air temperature. When it’s warm out I enjoy wearing white chinos with navy shirts or sportcoats, and I’ve seen white trousers look great in the winter with a pair of suede chukkas as well. White is just a color, and long as it looks good with everything else (and is in a weather-appropriate material and weight) it’s just fine in my book. Items like white sneakers and shirts are definitely not dictated by weather, so hopefully nobody’s feeling weirdly guilty about wearing that white OCBD in September.
Some clothing rules are great, and help provide a framework on how to navigate a confusing world. Others just don’t hold water anymore and can be completely ignored. The “Labor Day” rule is one of the latter – don’t let it dictate the way you dress.