Can You Wear White After Labor Day?

The summer is over and fall is here. Are you planning to put away your white clothes, or is it o.k. to wear white pants after Labor Day?

You probably grew up with the rule, “no white after Labor Day,” but that has pretty much gone by the wayside. This outdated way of dressing orignated in the 1800’s when wealthy city folk headed to their seaside summer homes between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  White  kept them cool in hot weather, and since it was not worn in the sooty city,  white became a symbol of class and wealth. Once wealthy families headed back to work in the fall, white was retired until the following summer.

Of course, now anything goes, and it’s perfectly fine to wear white all year round. Some whites look more seasonal than others based on where you live. For example:

White pants after Labor Day outfit |burgundy lace bell sleeve top | styled by Fabulous After 40

How to Wear White by Location

Florida, Southern California, or a tropical country or climate – You are fine to keep wearing your light, bright summer whites all year round.

East Coast, or in the Mid-West, or in any area with a colder climate. This is a little trickier. You can still wear white clothing but you are best to switch out the fabric. Put away white tops, dresses, and pants, made from light summer fabrics like linen, chiffon, and breezy cotton. Instead go for corduroy, cashmere, wool, denim, silk, or any type of white knit which is more suited to cooler temperatures.

Everywhere Year Round – A white shirt or blouse,  or a soft, stretchy white t-shirt look great year-round, no matter where you live. (Check out my post on how to transition your white clothes into fall to see what I mean.)

How to Style White in Fall

1. Wear White Jeans with a Richly Colored Autumn Sweater

White jeans can easily transition into September by adding a rich autumn-colored sweater or top in colors like brick, burgundy, rust, plum, or brown.

White jeans after Labor Day Outfit | White Jeans, Black Poncho, houndstooth booties | styled by Fabulous After 40


2. Wear White With Black in Fall

Black and white look chic any time of the year. Team white or off-white jeans with a light t-shirt and a fabulous black poncho.  Add some cool black and white plaid booties and a gorgeous black fall bag to tie the look together, and you’re good to go.


White Labor Day Outfit | white on white wide leg jeans and sweater | styled by Fabulous After 40

3. Create a White-on-White Fall Look

Varying shades of white from top to bottom in a mix of fall textures like denim and knit fabric create an elegant fall look.  Honey nubuck-colored accessories ground the look in cooler weather.

White after Labor Day Outfit | white sweaterdress and brown cardigan | styled by Fabulous After 40


4. Transition a White Dress into Fall

Some dresses can be transitioned into fall depending on the style and fabric. Try adding a fall-colored jacket to a white sleeveless knit dress and a pair of closed-toe shoes or booties. You could also try adding a long vest or a boyfriend cardigan. Sometimes you can even add a blouse under your white dress if it is sleeveless, but this is much trickier.

How to Wear White After Labor Day - Cream Sweater with jeans and riding boots outfit | styled by Fabulous After 40

5. Ease into Fall with Off-White

Keep in mind that white in fall doesn’t have to be bright white.  Soft white, ivory, or cream make your outfit look more fall/winter-like than stark white.

The bottom line is, if you’re struggling to make a white item work, it’s probably because it’s a summer white. You’re better off putting it away until it gets warmer!


What are your feelings about wearing white in the fall and winter? Do you wear it or do you have that old rule stuck in your head?

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40 thoughts on “Can You Wear White After Labor Day?

  1. Yes, I am planning to wear white jeans during our September Summer. Snow has already arrived in the mountains, but fall is usually warm after a couple of frosts. A black and white pin dot blazer and black knit top, along with black strappy sandals will complete the look. I have a rooftop patio staked out for a farewell to summer lunch.

    Thanks for the post that convinced me white jeans are good for 40+.

  2. This was a really hard rule for me to break…partly because I knew my mother would flip if she saw me wearing white after Labor Day. But living in Fort Worth, Texas, means, it’s Hot, more than it’s Not, so I absolutely wear white, usually through mid-October.

  3. I live in So Cal and am going to a formal gala. I have a beautiful spaghetti strap white flowy dress I have never worn. I was slightly concerned but now I think I’m just going to wear it after reading all of the above.

  4. I live in the Pacific NW and have never been one to really follow rules. But for white I do give up my white shoes (except my golf and tennis shoes) I wear white jeans and fall color on top and switch up the shoes. I have added fun scarves that help meld summer into fall My mother used to say NO WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY but this is the one time I didn’t listen and kept on wearing it, even though sometimes I’d get the eye roll in a few department stores or boutiques. My life My choice My white pants :-)

      1. Hi Kathy, While there are no rules and visitors can wear what they like, most locals would wear more fall clothes and darker colors in the fall, especially in cities. Europeans tend to go more by the season even if it is warm and don’t wear a lot of white in general. My sister just came back from a River cruise to Germany in Sept and said all the women on her cruise wore black or neutral – khaki or beige pants, but she didn’t see any white. During the day there was a lot of denim. I hope that helps.

    1. Hi Diane,

      I tend to agree with Deborah, HOWEVER, if you pair it with dark jeans, a white T-shirt, and add a scarf that has white in it I think you still can…though the balance is key…


  5. Up here in the north east and I am definitely wearing white pants into late fall. I have white flare jeans and I also have a pair of heavy weight white viscose and cotton dress slacks that I got from Talbots several years ago. I had bought them during the summer months with the intention of wearing them that summer but they were are so heavy – and lined -I said forget it and now wear them with abandonment during the fall months – this year, Plan on wearing these pants with chunky sweaters, light wool sweaters with mixes of cream, taupe, black patterns, leopard print sweater, refined sleevless turtleneck sweater – open toe booties (suede – black and sand) – beautiful scarfs and handbags – Christmas they will be worn with a chunky pearlized grey sweater (from Talbots last year) that is gorgeous with these pants – After December, they are put away – I am so wearing white!!!

  6. I agree with you that you can wear white after Labor Day. I live in a northern climate and to make it appropriate you have to make sure the fabric is appropriate rather than the color. So, thin cotton white pants will look out of place in the winter (not to mention freezing in them!) but white wool pants would look very chic. It’s still warm enough here that I can wear my white denim jeans for a couple of more weeks. I just start styling them with fall-colored tops. Thanks for the tips1


  7. This is a really fun and informative post! I think you can wear white year-round- certainly white denim pants or jacket, silk shirts, or cotton button ups when paired with weather appropriate other items of clothing. This fall and winter, I’m getting mileage out of my white denim jeans by pairing with chunky sweaters and boots. I may even try out a head to tie white jeans, cream sweater outfit one beautiful fall day.

    Love, Mary

  8. I’m not able to see the links in any of the posts to shop the looks. I really like the blue and brown poncho in this post. Any suggestions on how to get the shopping links to appear?

    1. Hi Rebecca, If you can’t see the links it is because you have your ad blocker on your computer turned on. You will need to go to your computer settings and turn that off. Hope that helps.

  9. I just bought a similar poncho and never thought about wearing it with white jeans. I love the idea, now that the weather has suddenly cooled off here in Northern Ontario and can’t wait to try it. I hadn’t worn white jeans in 25 years, purchased them this summer, and want to get more wear out of them. Thanks for all the wonderful tips Deborah.

  10. I have never cared about ponchos until I spotted the one you featured. It’s not in “Shop this Look” – where can I find it, please? I’m really enjoying your blog!

  11. Hi Deborah,

    I totally agree that wearing white is dependent on geography. The color white evokes the idea of coolness, which doesn’t necessarily work in cold climates. I have always lived in tropical climates…first Florida and then several Asian countries, so cool is always the way to go!


  12. Sunny Florida. We not only wear white jeans (shorts!) year round, we wear white sandals. The old rules about “no white after Labor Day” went away with climate change.

    Central Florida and south fashion mavens adopt “Fall transition” attire throughout winter. It isn’t cool enough for us to comfortably wear multiple layers & heavy fabrics. We can barely get by with wearing a pair of calf-high boots it’s so hot. It all looks sweltering in ‘winter’ 80+ degrees.

    We have ugly Christmas t-shirt instead of ugly Christmas sweater parties and turn down the a/c so we can have a fire in the fireplace for ambiance.

  13. I live in West Texas and it has been in the triple digits all summer and is still in the upper 80’s and upper 90’s here. Is it ok to wear white pants until the temps. drop? We probably will not see lower temps until late October. I can not bring myself to wear white shoes but would love to get a little more use out of a new pair of white pants before I put them away until spring.

  14. I understand that, my fiance` is very stuck on that rule! But sometimes I like to wear my white denim jeans with flare leg @ chritmas time w/ a pretty red holiday sweater. Would that be ok?

    1. Hi Sherry,
      Yes that would be fine and festive! Glad to get the chance to clarify what we mean. I never want to come across as “preachy” or that there are rules set in stone. Fashion is ever changing and that is what makes it so appealing to chat about! Cheers!!!

    1. Hi Sherry,
      Doing whatever you want is always fine but why not change things up? I enjoy putting my summer things away and getting out the fall. I often visit Southern California where you can certainly wear white all year.
      I’m not trying to be the fashion police on this site, just trying to up the fashionista factor and inspire you to have fun with your wardrobe!

  15. Well, this Southern girl is from Tennessee and you know what that means……Go Big Orange. TN is all orange and white so I plan to wear my white jeans with a great orange t-shirt today. It’s still in the mid to upper 80’s here. I think white (jeans, pants) are fine until it really starts to get cold.

  16. So glad to hear you say this! I have heard for several years now that it’s okay to wear white after Labor Day, but my thought has always been……..why would you WANT to? It’s fall…time to pull out those gorgeous colors. I do agree about Florida though. Summer fashions year-round in sub-tropical climates. You ladies rock!

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Usually by September we find we want to move into fall clothes too. It’s a mind thing. Just like it may be warm enough in Sept. to keep the pool open and swim, by then we’ve had enough.

  17. I live in Toronto (Canada) and here are my rules for white after Labour Day:
    1) it depends on the temps! (last year it was still in the high 20’s in October; this year it’s already cool);
    2) never white from top to bottom! So white pants (not jeans) and a pinstripe jackets for example is OK
    3) absolutely NO white shoes (unless runners)
    4) heavier weight fabrication takes it later into the season (depending on temps)
    5) warmer whites are seasonless
    6) the appropriate white cocktail ensemble us always a knock- out ( especially in a city that loves black!)

    love your articles!

  18. I just bought white jeans to wear in Florida this Fall! I probably won’t wear my white capris but I can’t wait to wear the jeans! I wear sandals in Florida all year long! So the white jeans will be cute, I think! You see people wearing shorts in FL year round! lol Great topic!

    1. HI L.D.,
      Yes, people do wear shorts all year long in Florida, so you could even wear your capris. However, sometimes it can get surprisingly cool,even there! Make sure you check the weather before you go and have plenty of pieces to layer. The nights especially can be pretty chilly,so a sweater will be a must! Have fun!

  19. Since I live in Fl guess I will continue wear my white jeans-but my question is being quite warm still,what do i wear with them in order to look “fallish”?
    Thanks so much:)

    1. Hi Jennell,
      Well the best way to look fallish, is to wear fall colors. With white you can do that pretty easily, if you wear cream it will look even better!
      The other way is to add a long scarf to your outfit. It will give you the sense of a fall accessory with out making you hot!
      Also, Change out your sandals for boots. If you want to be adventures…the open toed boots and booties are all the rage for fall and what better place to sport them, than in Florida where your toes won’t get frost bite!! Good luck! and always great to hear from you!!!

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