To wear white or not to wear white

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 5, 2015

Well bless my country bumpkin’ soul. I had no idea I was acting on a social more in an attempt to imitate the wealthy.

I thought when I tucked my white shoes and linen pants away after Labor Day, I was just carrying on the time-honored tradition of my Southern heritage, but according to my Internet research, I have learned there is more to the story.

I have to admit, the reason I decided to investigate the “no white after Labor Day” rule was an attempt to prove one of my coworkers wrong.

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In his youthfulness, and of course without checking with a more “mature southern lady” (me) he went out to gather his own evidence.

Well, I was not happy with his results and thus this column.

I first turned to my “Amy Vanderbilt: Complete Book of Etiquette” for support, and to my dismay she was no help. There was nothing in any of her eight chapters on rules for clothing after Labor Day, so I had to turn to the Internet. Shame on you Amy, for not being there for a sister!

After a bit of searching, I came upon Etiquetteer, a website that claims to encourage perfect propriety in an imperfect world. (You just have to love it!)

Anyway, like me, Etiquetteer had initially turned to experts including Vanderbilt and Emily Post and found nothing written on wearing white after Labor Day, and if that was not disappointing enough, the website said it was also disturbed to find extensive disagreement about the roots of the tradition.

Unfortunately, my investigation is not turning up results. However, I am pleased to report, Etiquetteer will now be my new go-to-guide for information after reading their final thoughts on the subject.

I quote, “So today, Labor Day, Etiquetteer will lovingly lay away his folds of white linen and blue seersucker and carefully tree and bag his white bucks until next Memorial Day, and will prepare to Wag an Admonitory Digit at those who don’t.” (Etiquetteer is known socially as Robert B. Dimmick, a native of Louisiana.)

So while I am not finding the hard evidence I need to prove my case on the clothing issue after Labor Day, I am happy to have found others out there who think like me — that is until of course I ran across Bridgette Raes’ website.

She, like Dimmick, had a difficult time locating any one reason that would contribute to the “no white after Labor Day” custom, except the fact, white reflects light and heat, so wearing white would make you cooler in winter.

But here is where I squirm a bit. Raes’ website went on to report, “in the late 19th century and the 1950s, more people were entering the middle classes. These nouveau-riche folks were often unaware of the standards of high society, so they were given specific codified rules to follow in order to fit in,” the director of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Valerie Steele, noted.

Who would have thunk it, the upper crust helping little ole’ me out.

Fortunately, Steele’s hypothesis will remain just that since no one has officially resolved the answer to the “white after Labor Day” question.

In the meantime, I have two more days to wear white.


About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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