How to: Wear White Denim (after Labor Day!)

by Jaime on September 8, 2010

I have a pair of white jeans that I absolutely adore. I scored them a few years ago at TJ Maxx. Though the brand (Pine IV) is now defunct, I only wear my white jeans in the summer so anticipate many more seasons of wear.

Contrary to popular belief, white denim can be extremely flattering! Also contrary to popular belief—as I’m learning and struggling to accept—the age old fashion rule “don’t wear white after labor day” is, like, so 2 seasons ago.

A long, long time ago, wearing white in the summertime was born of a few circumstances: no air-conditioning and the nouveau riche. Way back when people would rather be burned in effigy than caught wearing cutoff shorts in public, they wore formal attire that could be uncomfortably warm in the summer sun. White clothing was a socially acceptable way to stay cool.

Enter the nouveau riche. In the early twentieth century, the socially elite escaped the heat of the cities in the summer for waterfront vacation homes (i.e., the Hamptons). Adopting the social virtue “thou shall not wear white after labor day” was a way to distinguish oneself and one’s class from those who would evolve to wear jean cutoffs in public.

In an era with 15 million Americans out of work, it’s hard to fathom such social silliness, isn’t it?

With the famous and fabulous driving much of our fashion trends these days, it appears the fashion rules have been rewritten and white after Labor Day gets the green light. I’ve read many a fashion article about donning white apparel year round, especially in winter, and am still not completely sold on the idea. I like to save my hot white jeans for the hot summer season. This year I’m challenging myself: Labor Day is officially over and it’s high time I take the plunge, step out of my comfort zone and wear my white jeans!

Here are my Hikaru Wide Leg jeans in white from Pine IV (RIP) paired with clogs from a new favorite brand, Ugglebo, and the Willow Top from my longtime favorite She-Bible.

I’m going to give white a whirl in the coming months, what about you? Will you be wearing white after Labor Day?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather September 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm

You made me want to go out and buy a pair of white pants. But then I remembered I have two kids under 4 and decided that could be the worst decision I have made this year!

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Jen September 8, 2010 at 10:37 pm

White jeans can be tricky with kids…and dogs! I have to lock up my Great Danes (black and gray) before I get dressed if I’m stepping out the door in white jean AND lint roll when I’m outside! Practical? Nope.

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lazypadawan September 8, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I imagine there was another practical reason; white gets awfully dirty in that yucky mix known as slush.

By the way, I think you mean “donning” instead of “dawning.”

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Jen September 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Good catch! It IS “donning” instead of “dawning.” I’m a writer, not an editor…what can I say?! And you are correct, the unpredictable weather plays its role, especially here in the Pacific Northwest!

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Kari September 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Thank you for breaking the law of white. I’m still rocking my white purse too. Maybe I should just go ahead and rock em both! Then again, that could be overload. In any case, thanks for your great perspective!

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Anonymous September 12, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Thanks Kari! I’m sure your white purse if fab and destined to be rocked all year round!

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Jocelyn September 19, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I wore a white boyfriend blazer after Labor day, I don’t know if it was bold move, but I felt a little pride in doing so. *hi fives* for being yourself and stepping outside of the those unwritten “rules” that we’re supposed to live and dress by! Great post Kari!

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jill September 20, 2010 at 8:07 am

two of my most fashionable friends *rocked* white jeans in the dead of chicago winter last year…i have to say, i was jealous i didn’t think of it first.

to me, it exudes confidence! love it. great post, thanks!!

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Rofree September 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

I was born in the 70′s, so growing up I was taught not to wear white after Labor Day. I have a pair of white denims jeans that fit great and I love how I look in them. I was searching to see how many others face this “dilemna”, so I’m glad to see that its common. After reading this, I’m gonna rock my jeans (at least through Spetember). Thanks!

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