Friday, September 10, 2010

Why you weren't supposed to wear white after Labor Day.

Just for Enbrethiliel...
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"Never wear white after Labor Day". 
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The idea of a hard fast rule seems to be an American thing all right. The dictum most likely stems from the turn of the century when women wore a lot of black - a hold over from the Victorian era.  Yet in summertime, while on holiday and in the city, the girls wore pastels and white - often with white shoes if they were well to do.  White deflected the sun and was slightly cooler of course.  After everyone returned from the beach, the cape, the tropics, what have you, they all once again assumed the dull, drab dowager look of the era.  One would never wear white shoes with black anyway, although black shoes were worn with white.  Nevertheless avoiding white shoes was a practical solution to the dirty, muddy city streets in the fall, winter, and spring months.  White was simply impractical. 
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That said, the custom was clearly adopted from the aristocracy and upper class who loved rules.  Subsequently the emerging middle class and nouveau riche adopted the maxim - no white after Labor Day, and the dry goods stores (department stores) discovered a new merchandising strategy, as well as a marketing tool, thus introducing the novelty of the fall line... 
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European fashion never limited itself in this way - white was always fashionable.  Look at the Pope.
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So you see Sherman, anyone may wear white after Labor Day today...  fashion hasn't changed - it died.

7 comments:

  1. But what happens if the habit is white, like in the case of the Cistercians and Dominicans who wear a white tunic? Or Carmelites who wear a white mantle.
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    However, I doubt the British have this rule of thumb about Labour Day because the Brits don't have labour days...

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  2. The religious don't count - their clothes should never follow the fashions.

    I know the UK doesn't have a Labor Day holiday, I was in error attempting to include the British who always follow the Queen... dyed to match shoes and handbag, topped off with a lovely hat.

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  3. I amended my text now Br. William - so no one will ever know I made a mistake when I made up my theory.

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  4. +JMJ+

    Hey, how did you find that old picture of me from the 80s? =P

    Thanks for taking the time to write this, Terry. I really appreciate it. =)

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  5. I'm just being silly anyway Enbrethiliel - looking for a way to entertain you.

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  6. I've linked to this. It's a very important issue.

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  7. T said: "The religious don't count..."
    I say: "What? We don't count? Ah yes, we are the people on the margin, the liminal people on the threshold.... We are neither lay nor clerical (except those who have been ordained)... We don't count... We are not part of anything...."

    AND that is precisely our place! (However, I still think medieval fashion looks good.)

    BTW Daughters of Charity were the first group to adopt the habit modeled after the "fashion of the day" so as to be "in the world". And the Sisters of St Paul de Charters have YSL designing their habits after Vatican II. (YSL was a cousin of Mother General.)

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