Labor Day is synonymous with grilling at a neighborhood barbecue, lounging poolside and enjoying a 3-day weekend. But have you ever thought about why Labor Day even started? Was it really to give us all an excuse for R&R?
Well, kind of. But there’s more to it. Here are some fun facts that give you a little insight into Labor Day (and why in the world it has anything to do with wearing white).
- The labor movement dedicated this holiday to celebrate the achievements and contributions of American workers.
- The first city to celebrate Labor Day was New York City in 1882, with a parade that included roughly 20,000 workers marching for a standardized 8-hour work day.
- New York, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts enacted a Labor Day holiday through the legislature in 1887.
- In 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday.
- The holiday celebrates the American labor force, the majority of which is schoolteachers.
So what does any of this have to do with that old-school rule that says when it’s appropriate (or not) to wear white? Here’s the scoop: White clothing was worn by the well-to-do elite who could afford to have a true summer vacation and differentiate themselves from the laborers who wore dark, drab colors. When this holiday passed, it signified a return to the workforce and an end to the summer whites.
The “no white after Labor Day” rule was originally just focused on white shoes, not entire white ensembles. Nowadays, even fashionistas consider the rule pretty breakable. Celebrity Sean “Diddy” Combs hosts his annual White Party, which is occasionally held on Labor Day, where guests are restricted to an all-white dress code.
Now that most people associate this holiday with relaxing and shopping, Labor Day weekend is a great time for sales, especially for back-to-school items, patio furniture and going-out-of-season essentials like shorts and swimwear.
Tip to Know: Legendary fashion designer and icon Coco Chanel is considered the first to truly break the rule and incorporate white as a year-round wardrobe staple in the 1920s.