Every year, fashion magazines rehash the age-old debate: “Do we really have to wait until after Memorial Day to wear white?”
But actually, though this is an old-fashioned question, it’s not actually “age-old.” The “no white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day” rule is said to have originated in the 1930’s when the very wealthy began wearing nothing but white during the summer. This represented leisure (think country homes and croquet) whereas dark colors were associated mostly with the working class. Though most of our fashion etiquette has dissolved, the rule about white has been held loosely but commonly in the south, where white is and always will be the coolest color the beat the heat!
When my mother was growing up south of Houston, this rule was held quite adamantly, along with rules about what to wear to weddings or funerals and an apparent preoccupation with pantyhose, something that’s almost obsolete in today’s fashion! For me, however, it goes a bit beyond mere social law. Completely ignoring the rule about Memorial Day, my mother always taught me not to wear white until Easter. This makes perfect sense to me for a number of reasons.
For one, as a little girl, we usually received a new dress to wear on Easter Sunday. This was always very springy, often floral and quite puffy! These were always paired with frilly, white socks and shoes, a large bow or even a little matching purse.
Another is that the weather becomes warm here much earlier (as I write this in mid-February, I am sitting in 80+ degree heat!) If we decided to wear white when it was warm, we’d be wearing it sporadically all year long! Easter is very clearly “spring” and we’ve got the light, airy clothes to prove it.
The last reason, however, is one of spiritual symbolism. Lent is the period on the liturgical calendar leading up to Easter. It is a solemn time of reflection, confession and even mourning as Good Friday rolls around. Easter is the joyous celebration of Christ’s resurrection! This calls for light, color and cheer!
Last year I was very strict with myself and kept my white sweaters and shoes in the closet until Easter Sunday. I know that sometimes I slip a little here and there, especially when spring can be so warm. For the most part, I think this is a really nice tradition to pass on.
Putting off wearing my springtime things makes Easter all the more joyous, as if to say: Winter has truly passed, and our faithful God has again graced us with new life!
What About You?
Do you wear white all year round or do you have a fashion rule you adhere to?