Why It's OK to Wear White After Labor Day

There are rules, and there are rules that are meant to be broken. But what to do when a rule never really existed in the first place? A little debunking: No matter what anyone tells you, the whole you-can't-put-on-anything-white-after-the-first-Monday-in-September thing is as untrue as it is unfair, a creation of an old-school culture more than an adoption of the new rules of fashion. This goes for men and women (learn some of those new rules here).

Most clothes that are white are also light, in construction and color. They're meant for keeping you cool in the heat - and keeping you carefree while at play. But while we know that by now the wear-white-for-leisure rule has been broken as well (you need only look at the new US Open outfits), wearing light colors will lighten up an otherwise dark wardrobe as the fall and winter set in. So, yes, it's okay to keep on your summer whites, but we're not giving you license to run around in a blizzard wearing your Great Gatsby-style suit (it didn't even make our list of the best books ever). Because the only rule about wearing white after Labor Day is that you have to take into account certain seasonal variations. Here are four quick rules to remember:

White Doesn't Have to Be White

Call it what you will - egg shell, cream, crème, off-white, natural - as long as you call it a good look. Off-white is a traditional holiday color, but it shouldn't be relegated to one winter month, either. The subtle shade works very well with fall's staple colors - gray, navy, and brown - making it a cinch to work into a winter wardrobe.

(Get more of the best looks for white after Labor day from Esquire!)

White Doesn't Have to Be Delicate

Unless you're Tom Wolfe, fall and winter are not the seasons to be out there wearing a white suit. And you don't need - or want - to go head-to-toe just to lighten up. You don't even have to go formal, for that matter. Take this outfit: you'll notice plenty of fall-appropriate colors and fabrics, but what pulls it all together is that shawl-collared sweater. They were a staple of the British Navy, and they can be a staple for a man. Wives, take note.

(Find out how to get this look on Esquire's new style blog!)

White Jeans Don't Have to Be Your Enemy

Take it from the most stylish people in the world: the Italians, who wear white jeans exclusively, and now more than ever - rain or shine, no matter what the mercury reads. Try this: buy white jeans, make sure they're trim and not too long (get them tailored if necessary), and wear them with some cool boots. The opposite sex will notice - we promise.

White Always Looks Good on a Woman

And not just Sienna Miller. We challenge any man out there to say he doesn't love looking at a beautiful woman in white. Even a not-so-beautiful woman. It just works. And, no, we don't mean a wedding dress (though that's okay). And any sort of white clothes will do, really: white jeans, a white skirt, our white oxford - it's all kind of heartwarming, and all very hot. This applies as much when next to a fire place in February as it does during the next month, when someone is trying very hard to convince us that summer is already over.

Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren (model); Elizabeth Griffin (outfit); Bergdorf Goodman (jeans); Marc Hom (Miller)

PLUS: 21 More Fall Fashion Problems Solved at Esquire.com >>

What's your take? Planning to rock any white outfits after Labor Day?


Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.