Skip to main content

White Pants Before Memorial Day?

Banishing the taboo.

By Sara Antonuccio

It’s time to dispel an outdated fashion myth - you can’t wear white pants after Labor Day or before Memorial Day. Most of us unconsciously know and follow this rule, but when did it even become a “rule” in the first place? Who says white pants are a no-go 9 months of the year? Let’s learn how it all started, and why the misguided idea prevails to this day: 

The Taboo
The “no white before Memorial Day” rule started, as far as we can tell, in the 1930’s. At a time when fashion statements distinguished the wealthy from the poor, rich socialites took to wearing “leisurely” colors in the summer. Think about the last time you wore white when you knew you’d be getting dirty, and you’ll start to understand the symbolism. White was the color of choice if you wanted to tell society that you had money and spent your summers relaxing in the sun. The working class folk, on the other hand, were forced to sweat the summer away in dark colors that wouldn’t show the evidence of their labors so easily. Before long, magazines had grabbed onto the idea and were advertising white clothing in the summer and shunning it in the fall and winter months. The holidays marking the beginning and end of summer soon became the guideposts - no white after Labor Day, no white before Memorial Day. 

Why You Should Ignore It
Rules, especially outdated fashion rules that promote social inequality and are based on old ideas, are meant to be broken. You should never be afraid to do something different or go against “tradition.” Fashion is all about individual identity, and if your identity wants to wear white pants year ‘round, don’t let anything stand in your way! Besides, we have heavy duty washing machines now. White clothing isn’t as fragile as it used to be. 

How to Pull it Off
Don’t be limited in scope by the word “pants.” Jeans, tailored trouser pants, wide leg trouser pants, breezy linen bottoms - all styles are up for grabs. Once you’ve chosen your base, select your complementary pieces carefully. Too much white can wash you out and make your outfit look dull, so throw some fun colors into the mix. A bright top or standout shoes add interest to white pants and make them pop out even more. Alternatively, you can keep it classy by going with all neutral or light colors that don’t overpower white - sky blue, black, tan, or pastel pink.

Also keep in mind that fabric matters. Keep your fabrics weather-appropriate for comfort and style. Jeans that offer a little more protection are better for chilly or rainy spring days, while linen is both sophisticated and ideal when the sun is out and the world is warming up.

Never let yourself be limited by arbitrary rules or traditions. Your fashion choices are yours alone, and they should reflect who you are. So what if someone thinks white before Memorial Day is out? Take it from this fashion expert - white is always in!