TORONTO — Forget the old rule, once and for all: wearing white after Labour Day is not a fashion crime.
“Absolutely yes, it’s OK to wear white after Labour Day,” said fashion expert Jennifer McConville, adding it’s “one rule that definitely has been broken.”
In fact, white can be a crisp breath of fresh air among traditional fall shades.
Story continues below
UK watchdog bans ad showing ‘unhealthily thin’ fashion model
Metric’s Emily Haines teams with fashion brand Rudsak
Montreal fashion sector seeks growth through unity
Joe Fresh to shun runway shows, launches fund for emerging designers
Canadian fashion designers showcase ethical alternatives to discount retail
The Toronto stylist recommends adapting white pieces into your fall wardrobe by layering and keeping fabrics and patterns in mind. Here are some of her tips.
Pair with fall colours
“One of the key pieces that looks amazing all year round is a white blazer.”
“You want to look at pairing it with more fall-like colours,” said McConville. “So in the summer you might throw it over a floral blouse or a dress, but as you move into fall you might want to wear it with your jeans. A military green colour is a great compliment, it looks modern and fresh.”
READ MORE: Canadian fashion designers showcase ethical alternatives to discount retail
She said along with military green, blue and denim staples already in most closets are big colours this fall.
“Blues were a really big colour in the summer time, and they’re carrying right through to fall. The blues pair beautifully with white.”
And when in doubt, you can always count on the minimalist palette.
“White and black always look classic. So if you are ever unsure about wearing white, pair it with black and you’re done.”
Layer it in
Layering not only can be functional when the weather is starting to turn, but it can also break up an outfit by adding different textures and colours.
McConville recommends pairing a casual denim shirt under a more dressy blazer or white jacket.
“A denim shirt underneath is kind of a fun, relaxed way to wear a jacket that otherwise might look really dressy. It kind of dresses it down.”
WATCH: Fall fashion trends for men
A white sweater also layers well with denim and a leather jacket. Throw on some suede boots and gold jewelry and you’re good to go.
And McConville said for those feeling adventurous, a sleeveless duster coat — a long sleeveless jacket — is the way to go.
“It’s a layer you could throw over any outfit. That would look amazing in white as well.”
Wear heavier fabrics
Anything too frilly or gauzy might not carry well into the fall, so it’s better to pack those away. White pants should also be avoided, with a few exceptions.
“They are difficult to wear at the best of times,” McConville said with a laugh. “Unless you’re on vacation or down in Miami or a warm climate; that’s more appropriate all year round.”
Pick your shade
White is not always just plain old white; there’s cream, ivory, bright white, champagne… the list goes on. Not every shade works on every skin tone. McConville said cream colours can be trickier to wear and doesn’t pair well with everyone’s complexions.
However, “bright white is a sure thing.”
The history behind the rule
Fashion bibles Vogue and Harpers Bazaar have both made it clear the rule is a thing of the past. But where does the rule come from anyway?
EmilyPost苏州纹眉, named in memory of the ultimate ruler and decider of etiquette, breaks down the history. It all goes back to a time when dress was far more formal, and rules were not made to be broken.
“The summer season was bracketed by Memorial Day and Labor Day. Society flocked en masse from town house to seaside ‘cottage’ or mountain ‘cabin’ to escape the heat. City clothes were left behind in exchange for lighter, whiter, summer costumes. Come fall and the return to the city, summer clothes were put away and more formal city clothes donned once more.”
There was a dress code for every occasion, and light, summer clothes were left where they belonged.
“The signal to mark the change between summer resort clothes and clothing worn for the rest of the year was encapsulated in the dictum ‘No white after Labor Day.’ And it stuck.”
The post goes on to say “Of course you can wear white after Labor Day”, particularly in climates where warm weather lingers longer than May through September, or if you simply like to don the lighter shades regardless of climate.
“Even in the dead of winter in northern New England the fashionable wear white wools, cashmeres, and down-filled parkas. The true interpretation is ‘wear what’s appropriate—for the weather, the season, or the occasion.’”