Growing up in the south, I was always raised to have a bit of class and sophistication – Think seersucker and mint juleps rather than NASCAR and Budweiser. In this world there were a lot of unspoken rules, certain tenants that one just did not break. Always hand write thank you notes, treat your elders with respect – and yes, this means saying “Sir” and “Ma’am” even when the object of one’s politeness insists that it “makes them feel old.” and another of these unalienable maxims: the ubiquitous “never wear white after labor day.”
It is hard to argue with such a tried and true tradition – something that has been handed down, seemingly for generations. My mother, born and raised in Troy, Alabama, would be skeptical at best were she to read this (though she is supportive enough not to be horrified) but this is one of those rules that I might just question. Now before the sartorial traditionalists out there shout “Blasphemy!” I am not advocating donning a bleached linen suit and straw cap for Thanksgiving, or anything of the sort, (though going as Boss Hogg to a Halloween party might be well appreciated) rather, a bending of the rules, or a slight modification to their rigid expectations.
Wearing white after labor day is not an exact science, and depends greatly on the environment where one finds themselves, as well as the occasion, weather, and overall attitude of the situation. Tropical or Mediterranean climates invite white attire well into what would be considered the fall for the rest of the country, but needless to say, there are only very specific areas where this is applicable. South Florida, areas of coastal southern California, and parts of the gulf coast of Texas are about the only places where white chinos with boat shoes can be acceptable in October, and even there, under very specific circumstances.
Something I heard not too long ago that could sum up my opinion is that these days white can be worn for the most part throughout baseball season (and no, not really into the playoffs.) I could mention things like global warming, and how it is making the summers longer and hotter, but the real issue is whether or not lighter colors and whites work in the environment. If there is a drink in your hand and sunglasses on your face, there is a good chance white can work out, even into football season. Any time you can wear shorts, a good pair of khakis won’t be wrong, and a white button down with jeans or slacks would not go amiss well into fall – especially if the weather doesn’t require a jacket.
If anything should be taken away from this it is that there are no real rules, just a set of guidelines that are very open to interpretation, and completely situationally dependent. If you’re lucky enough to live in a warmer climate, then by all means, take advantage.