Tahlequah Daily Press

September 5, 2013

No white after Labor Day? Not anymore

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com

It may be September, but more often than not, residents of Cherokee County are still subjected to blistering heat.

It’s fairly common knowledge that light - or white - clothing reflects heat. Common sense would dictate that 100-plus degree days would be fine for wearing white clothing.

But for some women, wearing white after the holiday - whether it’s shoes, pants, dresses or even purses - is strictly forbidden.

Longtime Tahlequah resident Isabel Baker takes her cues from the weather.

“The weather guides me more than the time of year,” said Baker. “If it is hot or humid, I try to wear cool white things, shoes and all. White is so much more comfortable.”

Baker’s granddaughter, Angela Baker-Barnhart, said she was brought up with  a strict “no white after Labor Day” policy.

“White was allowed to debut at Easter [through Labor Day],” said Baker-Barnhart. “It was a big deal, and I was thinking Mom would cringe if she saw Lynly being sent off to school in her seersucker dress with white lace socks and white Mary Janes [shoes].”

Baker-Barnhart agrees with her grandmother.

“White after Labor  Day is no longer the faux paux it once was,” said Baker-Barnhart. “Since we have more than black or white options and have adopted a variety of styles, from casual to formal; the rules are not as strict. Winter white is acceptable.”

According to a Time magazine report, many historians speculate the origin of the “no white” rule may be symbolic of class structure. In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of color among well-heeled Americans in the summertime.

Local resident Cathy Cott believes account may ring true.

“I always wondered where this fashion rule came from,” said Cott. “I assume it must be a fairly recent thing - late 1800s - because most people didn’t have the resources for more than a few sets of everyday clothes and a set of ‘Sunday clothes’ for church, weddings and funerals. I suppose it was a way for the ‘haves’ to display their wealth without being crude about it.”

June Ludwig, owner of a local clothing boutique, said the “no white” rule fell by the wayside a long time ago.

“Yes, white is in style year-round,” said Ludwig. “Only the oldest of fogies worry about that. I wouldn’t wear white head to toe, but one piece paired with colors.”

Online exclusive

The “no white after Labor Day” rule garnered a number of comments from Daily Press Facebook friends. To read more comments on the subject, visit www.TahlequahTDP.com/onlineexclusives.