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Why Are We Wearing White? The Fashion Traditions of Memorial Day

Posted by Steven on May 15th 2015

Everyone loves Memorial Day because it is the unofficial start of the summer season and for most of you (hopefully) a time for barbeque parties. But did you know that this holiday has it’s own fashion rules? These days the fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when, but every year you can still hear people talking about fashion rules for this upcoming season.

The History of White Clothing and Summer:

It is believed that we should wear white pants on Memorial Day. Where did this rule come from? In the past people believed that wearing white is allowed only during the summer season and as Memorial Day is considered an unofficial beginning to the summer season,  it is the right time to search in your closet for all of your white clothing. Our fashion tip is to style your white pants with a red top and blue pumps, to show your patriotism :)

Memorial Day Fashion


White clothing during the rest of the year was for some people considered unacceptable. White was for weddings and to wear during vacation, not for fall dinner parties. This rule was originally enforced by only a small group women, mostly rich and snobby types, but over time it has trickled down to the rest of society and remains a tradition to this day.

Of course, not everyone followed this rule. Most famously Coco Chanel, loved wearing white and wore it year-round.

Barbeque Party

The End of Summer Holiday:

So, we should pull out our white pants on Memorial Day and then what? When is the official end of “white summer season?”

In the 1950s, women’s fashion magazines made it clear: white clothes came out on Memorial Day and went away on Labor Day, the first Monday of September. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, and society adopted it as the natural endpoint for summer fashion because September for most of us symbolizes the start of the fall season.


So, no matter what your plans for Memorial Day are, rock your white pants, but don’t forget what the old fashion rules say:

No White Before Memorial Day or After Labor Day.

Thanks to for providing more background on the subject:

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