All White Everything

9–5–16, Lefko

Today’s fun fact is inspired by Five Guys’ increasing fashion sense (with Brian buying floral shirts and Adil wearing suede shoes out, I couldn’t be prouder). Given that today is Labor Day, I thought it would be appropriate to explore the history behind the age old fashion wisdom delineating Labor Day as your final opportunity to wear white.

There is some debate as to the definitive roots of the rule, but a general narrative goes as follows: For the most part, the wives of rich white men controlled all etiquette and style trends following the civil war, but the early 1900’s saw a sudden influx of “nouveau riche” to the social scene. Threatened by the “vulgar” New Money families, those from the Old Guard needed a new way to differentiate between families at various unnecessarily formal events like the opera or some dressage bullshit (dressage video from the most recent olympics, featuring a horse, bowler hat, and Santana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYOhskRpdME). This was no new attempt, as these socialites had been guiding high society fashion rules for decades — everything from sleeve length to waist size were supposed to be class secrets. Every time the lower classes started adopting their fashion, they changed the rules. They found their new guideline in summer wear, and summer fashion seemed to be particularly amenable to guidelines. For one thing, it had established beginning and end dates — memorial day and labor day, respectively. With a time period set in mind, they had to decide of the rule itself. Lest we forget, these were the days pre t-shirts, where formal attire was worn everywhere. As such, people wanted to stay as cool as possible in the heavy sun, so they decided on white. Moreover, this was one of the few times of year where they could wear white without destroying it, for the fall brought rain and mud, and heat during the winter was provided with coal — notorious for streaking white clothing anywhere within a mile’s radius. Satisfied with their new rule, the Old Money mafia tried to keep their guideline a secret. Word eventually got out, however, and spread like wildfire until it was useless as a metric of old money and etiquette. Of course, there were some positive deviants the entire time…people from old money who kept white in their wardrobe all year long, not the least of which being Coco Chanel. Nowadays most people dgaf and where white whenever. So, gentlemen, go forth and wear white at will. Just dont be like kanye though: