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While most of us turned to white tops, skirts and pants to keep us cool throughout the summer, we're probably planning on returning them to the depths of our closets now that Labor Day weekend has come and gone. But do you really need to retire these functional pieces after the three-day weekend? We spoke with top stylists to find out if it's finally time to ignore this long-standing fashion rule.
Where does this myth come from?
According to Time, the notion that you can't wear white after Labor Day originated in the early 20th century, when the color began to function as an indication of societal status. Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told the publication that the elites could afford to purchase seasonal clothing, while the working class typically donned darker clothing all year long.
Hollywood stylist and Dhstyle Inc. CEO Dana Asher-Levine told us that seasonal availability also has a lot to do with this old-fashioned myth.
"Many years ago, shopping was very seasonal. You bought clothes for fall, holidays and spring and summer," Asher-Levine told Shop TODAY. "White was never available in the winter months. Now with fast fashion, collections changing monthly, white is a staple color year-round."
Does white need to leave our wardrobes?
So, should you opt to leave your outfits void of any traces of white until Memorial Day? Some celebrity stylists don't think so.
"I disagree with this notion — white should be a staple in everyone's wardrobe worn year-round," said celebrity stylist Cristina Ehrlich. "If we took white out of our wardrobe after Labor Day, that would take away men's and women's shirting."
Celebrity stylist Karla Welch also disagrees with the notion. In fact, she doesn't believe in any fashion rules.
"I think white is great for all the basic wardrobing pieces — a white or off-white sweater always feels right, " Welch said.
How can you incorporate white into your fall and winter outfits?
"Times have changed and fashion has changed," as Asher-Levine put it.
If you're looking to defy the fashion myth yourself in the following months, we also asked the experts for some tips on exactly how to do it. Whether you want to build a timeless capsule wardrobe or simply test out a white outfit yourself, read on for the pieces you should be adding to your cart.
To start off, Asher-Levine recommends investing in a crisp white blouse, a piece that can take you from day to night with ease.
This statement blouse with balloon sleeves is as functional as it is fashionable. Since it's a button-down, it's perfect for layering and can be worn with shorts as we ride out summer or jeans at the beginning of fall.
This elegant blouse features flowy sleeves and a pleated design that breaks up the solid white fabric. You can pair it with anything from jeans to work pants, and then complete the look with a solid-colored bootie.
If you're going for a breezy look, this puff-sleeve top can keep you cool. Pair it with a sleek pair of slacks or black jeans for an easy outfit that you can wear anywhere.
Need a simple white top to throw on for video calls? This relaxed button-down is made from a soft, lightweight cotton that makes lounging on the couch or in your home office comfortable.
Looking for an easy way to incorporate white into your wardrobe as the weather gets colder? Try a simple white sweater. This ultra-soft top from H&M is made from a breathable polyester fabric that can be worn with nearly any pair of pants.
Welch says a "perfect" white tee is also an easy basic to incorporate into your post-Labor Day wardrobe. Asher-Levine also recommends keeping a "variety" of white tees in your closet.
Whether you'll be working from home or just need a comfortable top to run errands in, we found some fashionable and affordable options.
Made with a soft, lightweight cotton, this tee was made to live in. For an effortless look, pair it with jeans, flats and a camel coat.
If you prefer the comfort of a crew neck, this solid tee will certainly deliver. It's made from 100% cotton and specially designed to offer any figure a flattering silhouette.
For a step up from a classic tee, you can't go wrong with the bestselling style of this scoop neck top.
This rounded V-neck is a classic that will never go out of style. The top is lightweight and easy to pair with jeans or leggings as the seasons change. To complete your look, try throwing on your favorite pair of boots or sneakers.
If you're looking to add a pop of color to your all-white look, the fall season is the perfect time to experiment with a chic coat.
"A beautiful all-white look with a camel cashmere coat transitions beautifully into fall and winter," Ehrlich said.
Already have your outerwear covered? Welch says adding a black blazer to a white outfit can make it instantly chic (and ready for video calls).
This fall-ready coat is made with polyester that is as trendy as it is comfortable. Whether you're looking to keep it casual or extra fashionable, you can polish off your look with a pair of white booties.
For a look that's on-trend, this coat features a button closure and an A-line fit — subtle details that make all the difference. Pair it with your go-to all-white outfit for an effortlessly chic look.
This polished blazer makes it easy to dress up a plain T-shirt, whether you're heading into the office or preparing for a virtual conference call.
This soft blazer features two functional pockets that you can actually use during your workday. It's the perfect way to break up a monochromatic look without breaking the bank — and it's currently on sale for just $40.
Wondering how to complete the look? "When styling white outfits, incorporate statement necklaces and earrings," Ehrlich told us. "Having a white base allows gold metals to pop once worn, and always add that red lip."
Prefer something on the smaller side? These "huggies" are TODAY editor-approved and cost less than $15. Pair them with your favorite T-shirt and jeans for an effortless look.
Not a fan of hoops? These drop earrings are a unique way to accessorize a white outfit while still making a statement.
If you want to heed Ehrlich's advice and opt for a red lip to complete your look, this bestselling shade won't disappoint. The matte lipstick boasts over 800 reviews from Ulta customers that praise its rich color and easy application.
"Another accessory would be incorporating a stiff-brim boater hat for the season," Ehrlich said.
This trimmed boater hat can easily transition from the last days of summer to the early days of fall, thanks to its rich color and ribbon detail. For a limited time, you can use the code LABORDAY for an additional 25% off.
Asher-Levine also adds white booties and chunky tennis shoes to the list of ways you can incorporate white into your wardrobe this fall and beyond, since they can take you from day to night.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, frequently sports these all-white sneakers, pairing them with everything from jeans to wide-leg pants. They're a budget-friendly way to add some royal style to your wardrobe.
Chucks will never go out of style, so investing in these white sneakers after Labor Day is a smart fashion move for adding a timeless piece to your wardrobe.
Another classic sneaker, these Keds can match nearly any piece in your closet. Whether you're opting for a basic tee and leggings or want to step it up with light-wash jeans, these shoes make it easy to incorporate white into your look.
These vintage-inspired boots are an easy way to add a bright pop of white to an otherwise dark outfit. The faux-leather upper and chunky block heel means you can sport a chic look without compromising comfort.
For more stories like this, check out:
- The five types of shoes every woman should own, according to a stylist
- Sweater vests are back — stylists share how to master the trend
- These top-rated cardigans on Amazon are must-haves for fall — and they're under $40
This article was originally published on Sept. 4, 2020.