The Tale of Labor Day

Two of the best things about dressing for summer are white pants and white shoes. Tradition dictates that we can only wear such items between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and with the passing of the latter, we thought it’d be interesting to get into the history of the holiday. Enjoy.

Summer Shoes In White

The Beginnings Of Labor Day

Celebrated first in Oregon in 1887, it became a federal holiday in 1894 after the Pullman Strike in which many workers were killed by U.S. Marshals and the U.S. military. President Grover Cleveland wanted to reconcile with the labor movement. Given that this holiday is one sympathetic to labor, the sartorial rule banning white pants and shoes (clothing generally relegated to white-collar types) serves to reinforce this sympathy, and breaking it would be in poor taste. The holiday also marks the unofficial end of summer and robs white pants of their utility, as pants of that color are generally made in lightweight cotton or linen.

Climate change has thrown a wrench into the system, however. While Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, it is now hot and muggy well into September. The author even remembers being on a date in early October 2007 and sitting outside because it was nearly eighty degrees at night. So, what can we do about this?

Glenn O’Brien, GQ’s “Style Guy” and one of our sartorial heroes once wrote that the rule should be extended into October, at the end of the baseball postseason. We couldn’t agree more; if the world is fundamentally changing, we might as well dress for the weather.


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