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White After Labor Day…Again | Manolo for the Big Girl

White After Labor Day…Again

We all know I love white.

This is a photo of my closet at Villa Plumcake. I think you can sense a theme. Okay, I think you can sense a theme OTHER than “no wire hangers ever”.

Even my suitcase and bathing suit was white.

The question is; do I love white after Labor Day?

Or is it no white SHOES after Labor Day? I’ve heard it both ways, so let me tell you where I stand on this, the most important of all possible issues.
White Shoes:
As far as I’m concerned white shoes are for brides, nurses and strippers dressed up as brides or nurses. The two notable exceptions are Keds-style canvas sneakers and white Italian loafers, the former being best served while the weather is warm and latter being doable only if you’re sure you can pull them off unironically.

White Clothes:
A stickier wicket by far.
Do I personally wear white after Labor Day? I sure do, because although Labor Day is the unofficial start of fall in more temperate climes, Here in Austin Face-of-the-Sun Texas, it’s summertime until just after 10 p.m. on October 31st.

I know this because it is an Austin tradition to see all the girls dressed as Naughty Fill-In-The-Blanks shivering in their three dollar fishnets (in various alluring shades ranging from Herpes Simplex Red to Daddy Never Hugged Me Blue) when the cold front blows through.

I deploy it with a little more fear and trembling once the mercury drops below 100, but the key isn’t so much the color but the visual weight of the clothing.

White clothing is shorthand for light and summery, but it’s really the fabrication, not the color, that makes the piece seasonally appropriate.

A cotton lawn a-line dress might be perfect for August, but a little gauche for October.

Make the same dress in a heavier silk or silk/wool blend –maybe with a warmer touch, I find the pure blue-whites to be a bit challenging in the cooler months– and it’s perfect for all seasons, just make sure to accessorize accordingly (a little red cashmere cardi and a pewter patent belt for winter, a long russet scarf of slubby silk wrapped alluringly for fall, cheerful green and pink Puccis for spring and sweet espadrilles for summer) and wear white all year long.

Oh and this McQueen-inspired feather wedding dress? I’d wear it until you had to pluck it off my cold dead body. *sigh*

16 Responses to “White After Labor Day…Again”

  1. daisyj September 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    I’m fine with giving up the “no white after Labor Day” as long as we come up with another arbitrary color-based dictate to replace it with. No yellow before 11am? Pink and brown together only between Washington’s birthday and the beginning of Lent? No leather pants during Yeast Infection Awareness Month? When you come right down to it, I just need an easy way to feel superior to people.

  2. Miss Plumcake September 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    @DaisyJ: I think you’re still good with no sequins before 6 p.m. and no suede after Easter. Not exactly color-based, but still excellent for feeling superior!

  3. Victoria September 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Perhaps you used this photo ironically, given that it was an obvious rip-off of McQueen, but isn’t that the wedding dress “designed” by Kenley on Project Runway several years ago?

  4. Miss Plumcake September 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    @Victoria: GASP! You’re RIGHT!

  5. Laura September 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Oh this is timely – I just found out my sister is having bridesmaids (including me) wearing white/cream for her November wedding. Any tips for white dresses that don’t look too summery? I’m not having much luck.

  6. Miss Plumcake September 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    @Laura: I’d focus on making sure the weight of the fabric is heavy enough. Also a warm cream or a pearlescent gray tone adds formality and a wintry quality while the pure blue whites feel summery.

  7. lali September 7, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    As someone who lives in a country of only two seasons — hot and dry; and a bit less hot and wet — whether or not to wear white is a decision based on the possibility of getting mud on white shoes or pants. Would that not be the case of places in the US with less variations in the weather like California or Florida?

  8. white dresses September 7, 2011 at 2:56 am #

    You are right. And I loved the white. It suits all the occasions.

  9. Janie September 7, 2011 at 5:28 am #

    Strewth. I had no idea how much there was to bear in mind when dressing in white.
    Personally I avoid it like the plague whatever the season/temperature as it makes me feel 3 dress sizes bigger than any other colour. Oh, and I live on a farm. With a black cat. And a grubby builder boyfriend. ‘Nough said.

    Now, let’s talk about my good friend black…

  10. Thea September 7, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Just to stir the pot, I was recently told ‘no velvet after February’ which was new to me. Annnnd it’s wholly possible someone was just messing with me. Anybody else hear that one?

  11. Miss Plumcake September 7, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    @Thea: I’d never heard it, but for places with the regularly scheduled seasons it’s not a bad rule of thumb. Velvet is a winter fabric and looks REALLY off when worn out of season, so the first signs of spring should mean packing up your velvet and similarly-napped fabrics until deep autumn comes around.

  12. Laura September 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    My response to people telling me “no white after Labor Day” was always “then why is there a color named ‘winter white’?”

    I used to greet November in my favorite pair of winter white cords. I miss those things. They fell victim to some ill-advised vending machine hot cocoa about 4 years ago.

  13. Lisa from SoCal September 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I think Plummy has hit it spot on here with being more concerned about the weight and feel of the fabric, rather than the color. I can’t wear pure whites anyway and almost always opt for cream or ivory. It sounds like Austin is very similar to the weather I have because October gets really hot here and I really, seriously, do not want want to be wearing things that fit with east coast ideas of “fall clothing.” It was miserable here yesterday and I wore a white t-shirt and said to heck with it all.

  14. Lisa from SoCal September 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    @lali….Florida has quite a bit of rain, and some parts of California do. SoCal does not, so no, I don’t have to worry about getting splashed or dripped on most of the year. When it does rain here, it rains hard, though, and feels dank so you’re much more likely to wear heavier clothing those days anyway.

  15. lali September 12, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    @Lisa from SoCal…. So the “No white after Labor Day” injunction does not hold as much weight in those places as simple practicality?

  16. Lisa from SoCal September 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    @lali I think the “no white after Labor Day” is a very practical rule in places where, when fall arrives, you’ve got leaves on the ground, rain, and then slush and snow. Even if the rule was originally for the wealthy, it was probably a good rule that saved work for the folks doing the laundry.

    But there’s just not as much leaf debris or moisture where I live: it’ll be 100 degrees at some point in October (it’s statistically the hottest month of the year here), sure as you are born, and you just don’t want to be wearing in 100 degrees what are very practical fall fabrics in places where fall means nice cool weather and moisture. You’re mostly just drinking water and trying not to die.

    The cities where I hang out large portions of the year: New York, Miami, and Estoril. Miami is for all practical purposes a Latin city, and I don’t really think anybody thinks twice about wearing white whenever there either–it’s far too warm and humid–at least not in my experience. Estoril is in many respects a Mediterranean city (it’s on the Portuguese Riviera, where again, the rules that govern East Coast Americans do not seem to hold. New York is New York and there, the rule about “no white after labor day” makes perfect sense. Leaves everywhere, rain, etc. When we are in NYC our dogs come in looking like walking leaf piles in the fall.