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Attn All Rule Breakers: We Are Now Wearing White

Today we are going to talk about that funny etiquette rule that demands we not wear white after Labor Day. First of all, what does it even MEAN? I have never understood it, but I have blindly followed it all my life. Let's go to the books.

The no-white rule after Labor Day originates from Victorian times when wearing white was as much a status symbol for the middle and upper classes during the summer, as not wearing white was the status nuance after Labor Day. The fashion nuance was that if you didn't know the rule, you weren't fashionable. 

Huh. Well, that makes a kind of sense. Sort of. HOWEVER, my home state is Louisiana, and although we are sticklers for the many, many rules of etiquette (I can tell you about ALL of the forks), it is so hot here that we consider anything under 80 degrees "a cold snap." Wearing white just makes the weather seem cooler, doesn't it? (If there is some scientific explanation for why black is better, I don't want to hear it.) And, as y'all might have noticed, white is also basically my signature color.

So I hereby declare the no-white rule dead to me. I encourage you to break this silly rule as well, and guess what else? Tide would also like you to break it by entering their Tide VIVID White + Bright Rule Breakers of the Week Contest. The contest? Upload a photo of yourself breaking the rules of wearing white. The prize? Oh, no big deal, just a $3000 shopping spree. No White After Labor Day Rule, you are OVER!

I am really going to enjoy breaking this rule, especially since I own more white clothing than a person probably should. Please regard:

Fall bike rides are my favorite thing ever. It's actually too hot between April and right around now, early September, to ride a bike. But, check it: yesterday the temperature topped out around 90. A breezy 90.

This is what fall in Louisiana looks like: crocheted shorts and a sleeveless top. Five degrees colder and I would have on a jacket and scarf.

The great thing about these shorts is that even though they're white, they are texture-y enough for fall. They will also work in December with tights and boots. And I shall wear them then in that manner.

Flowy tank c/o Maggie Mason, who just showcased a vintage white dress that is also about to get stolen. Shorts: Urban Outfitters. Shoes: Tsubo.

Do you like this dress? I do. And I have actually broken two rules with it: not only is it white, it is also a skirt. Oops.

The thing is, I am five feet tall, and the skirt is four feet tall, and I loved its interesting bottom, so it is now a dress. How perfect is it, with a light scarf, for an autumn wine tasting? Pretty perfect.

Yeah, we're tasting white wine. It is hot, OKAY? 

Sparkly shoes go very well with white skirts-turned-dresses.

Make no mistake: I wish we had cool enough weather to drink heavy red wines and make chili and gumbo, but those days are months away. So in the interim I'll be tasting white wine and wearing a white dress while doing it. PS, there needs to be a way to have gumbo cold, like gazpacho. Gumbspacho: somebody get on that.

Dress/skirt: Banana Republic. Wrap: J. Crew. Shoes: Kate Spade. Sparkly bag: Ban.do. Headscarf: Vera.

A thing that Southerners like a lot is the watching of football games. (We are the home of LSU and the Saints: Geaux Tigers, Who Dat, etc.) Some of us like to watch those games outside. And some of us don't have enormous flat-screen TVs in our custom-built patio areas, so we make do. And some of us enjoy making do in our white fashion sweats and silver metallic high-top sneakers.

Fashion sweats: They are a real thing.

Here I am contemplating which part of this is funnier: The fact that the TV doesn't actually work, or the fact that I ate two entire bags of popcorn during this shoot.


Breaking the rules, drinking a beer, living the dream. Now, will you be wearing white after Labor Day? Clearly.

Top: Emerson Fry. Fashion sweats: Rue 21. Neon socks: J. Crew. Necklace: Kate Spade. Shoes: Pour la Victoire.


A super-special thanks to the sponsors of this post: Tide VIVID White + Bright. Now go enter that contest, you rule-breakers!

All photos: Ben Corda

Reader Comments (23)

I seriously covet those orange wedges.

And 5,000 points for Gumspacho. That sounds like a fabulous idea. I am also counting down to when I can finally enjoy some gumbo!
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin
Heh. Up here in the Adirondacks (where it's currently 53 degrees at noon), we're already breaking out courduroys. We wear those light, white, sorts of items for about two months. But they are a glorious two months.

Also, Pretty please wear a helmet when you bike? For me? Yes, even while casually cruising around town. (The two times I have broken hellmets have been at about walking speed. My one high-speed crash didn't involve my head at all.)
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica B.
Dear AB
WOAH. Your hair is so long!
And your socks are so pink, your stool so yellow (wait, no. That doesn't sound right) and your pal Ben so very, very good at taking photos.

I think the only rule about wearing white should be whether one can be trusted not to get coffee / chocolate / sauce / dirty bench on it. (I fail this test regularly.)
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia
@VeronicaB, I've been meaning to get a helmet so thanks for the reminder. :)
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAB
Living in inland Southern California, I can relate to this all too well, re the "fall" weather. I'll be staying tuned to see how you rock those crocheted shorts with tights, though. My imagination isn't bold enough to visualize how that will come together! (LOVE those wedges. And the hair.)
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
@Patricia - Yay! After a crash my first year as a triathlete (I was trying to grab my water bottle while going uphill and was going SO SLOW I tipped over) that literally BROKE my helmet, I have become a total ambassador. Helmets have saved me from permanent brain damage/death TWICE. (And like I said, both times at cruising speed. I'm special like that. Heh.)
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica B.
Is it inappropriate for me to say lady, you are a fine lookin' woman? Is there a painting of you hidden away in an attic somewhere?
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChelleG
You remind me of Audrey Tautou in that set of bicycle photos! Tres jolie!
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I wanted to wear white jeans today, and then told myself, nope, can't do that, labor day rule thing.
and then I see this!! and I'm inspired. and guess what I'm wearing tomorrow?? yep i just might dewit!
thanks AB!!
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterheather
speaking of helmets. I thought you would appreciate this as much as i do.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjeni g
it just so happens that i wore white jeans on a DATE last night. with this hot guy i know who turned 35. the only point at which i got nervous was when i realized i was eating a roasted beet salad, but i managed to survive without getting a single drop on my pristine jeans. hot damn.
September 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhannah
Thanks, ladies with the compliments. You are sweet.

@jeni g THAT IS AMAZING. Girls!
September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAB
Dear Lord, I love your sense of humor. Not to mention, your style. I would like to order up a bicycle like that with a side of those garage doors, bamboo table and those sparkly shoes. Since you agreed a helmet is in your future, I thought I would include my fave.


September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynne
The "fashion sweats" characterization makes me smile. My sister always calls them dress sweats and she's a fan.
September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSassafras Mama
Today I am wearing white jeans AND open-toe sandals after Labor Day. In Wisconsin.
September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBecky
@Lynne That is the cutest thing I've ever seen.
September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAB
Love your outfits. The skirt as dress would look great as a New Years Eve outfit. Can we also get rid of no brown and black together? I hate that stupid rule too.
September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusie
wait, brown and black together is a no-no? it's one of my fave combos!

this is truly the blog i go to first thing in the morning. even though ab "yelled" at me once bc i disliked a a homeowner's blanket placement (but not the blanket itself!)... i hope i am forgiven?
September 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbliss
@bliss Oh my Lord, YES. I do not even remember that, is how forgiven. :)
September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAB
i just started watching battlestar galatica. yeah. on the first season currently. we're binging.
and every time Starbuck comes on my TV screen, I think of you and i think of writing this comment.
is that weird? I don't even know you (really) and haven't inspected your face (in person).
i feel like you two have the same eyeballs and a little bit of the same facial bone structure.

that's just my evaluation.

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertracy
@tracy I have actually heard that more times than you can imagine. Which is funny, because she is so totally blonde and light-eyed and fair. But which is also awesome, because she is hot. So, please, carry on.
September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAB
OMG! You are soooooo funny! This is the first time I read your blog, and I am rolling in front of my computer. My 16 year old son keeps telling me "Mom, there's no one is listening to you!" This year, I have also abandoned the No White After Labor Day rule, and, I obviously wholeheartedly agree with you. You are cute and sophisticated and hilarious in your versions of white. (Also loving the white wine reference as in it is too dang hot in here!) Keep rockin' it, sister!
September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
Those orange wedges have been stuck in my head since I first saw them here, but no stores in my area carry Tsubo. So I went to Toronto in February, googled a store that does carry the brand, and went in. One pair left of those exact shoes, in my size! It was fate, I tell you!
April 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

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