A Fashion Faux Pas in 3 Easy Steps

Some hardcore sartorialists still adhere to the (outmoded) maxim of ‘You can only wear white between Memorial Day and Labor Day’.

Where did this start anyhow?  According to Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion, “All the magazines and tastemakers were centered in big cities, usually in northern climates that had seasons,” he notes. In the hot summer months, white clothing kept New York fashion editors cool. But facing, say, heavy fall rain, they might not have been inclined to risk sullying white ensembles with mud — and that sensibility was reflected in the glossy pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, which set the tone for the country.

Well, I say ‘Stuff that!’  I’ve recently purged my wardrobe of several 2 sizes too big, baggy pants (courtesy of the Dukan Diet).   I’ve really had to scrounge around for replacements.  I’m about a UK size 6 and lots of clothing shops stop at size 8.  But, I’ve persevered and found some great white Tommy Hilfiger Rome wide leg cotton/linen trousers at TK Maxx.  We had a heatwave end of last week, so I consulted my UK Fash-Guru, Kev Evans, on the matter of white trouser/footwear etiquette in Merrie Olde.  He advised, ‘Brits are only allowed a few days of sunshine per year, so make the most of it and wear whatever rocks your world’ and as an afterthought, ‘We must work in tones, not colours, sweetheart!’

Here’s how to do it (with the right accessories of course).

1) Dark sunglasses and a Badass Atttitude:

“3 days ’til Memorial Day?  Get a life, loser”

2) Don an insouciant hat:

“WTF? Isn’t Memorial Day in April??”

3) Distract ’em with a bouquet:

Seriously, I love these pants.  Über-comfy and ultra stylish.  I usually don’t like back pocket flaps, but these work for me.  The belt is seriously long, but I quite like it tucked into one of the back loops.

I also teamed up some off-white pumps with Gas skinny jeans (got lucky again at TK Maxx) and a rose sleeveless knit Great Plains top I got for a fiver from Relevant, a vintage/used clothing shop in Exeter.  No website, I’m afraid, but you can find burlesque queen and clothier Lady Lace on Facebook.

“Bone is the new white”

Much to the chagrin of sartorial purists, skepticism of the Memorial to Labor Day law has seeped into mainstream America. From 1960s counterculture to the present day — when would-be fashionistas get as many ideas from blogs and friends as from magazines and Fashion Week — more people than ever are breaking the rule. Even the 2004 manners bible, Emily Post’s Etiquette, 17th Edition, gives the go-ahead for wearing white after Labor Day. Which may explain why some who abide by the custom themselves are now willing to compromise. Scheips, for one, “would never be caught dead wearing a white suit after Labor Day.” But neither does he completely write off those who do. “I’m sure the Queen of England at Christmastime puts on white ermine once in a while. So if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for everybody else, right?” he says. “You don’t have to be a fascist about it.”

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton, 2 June 1953

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