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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

No white after Labor Day and other fashion trends that make no sense

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News | Sep 07, 2018

One of my least favorite things to do is follow rules (just ask my mother if you need a reference). So when fashion says I can’t wear white after Labor Day, I’m not only going to do it anyway, but I also want to know why. So I did some research just in case you, too, wanted to know.

According to an article on Mental Floss titled, “Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day” by Kathy Benjamin, a series of ridiculous fashion rules are the reason for this particular ridiculous fashion rule.

Benjamin says that during the turn of the century, white was recognized as a summer color because it helped keep the body cooler than other colors. Pastel and pale-colored clothes were popular for the upper class because they had the means to keep them clean, as well as keep cool. Differentiating themselves from the lower class was a big hobby in those days and they did whatever they could to prove it.

In her article, Benjamin then says high-society women would create rules about fashion to differentiate them from just your average gal at the opera. For example, there was a certain length of sleeve that was appropriate for the opera and anyone who didn’t have that was breaking an unspoken rule of fashion and clearly had no idea what they were doing.

So, as white was clearly a summer color, it was only appropriate to retire it come fall. When Labor Day was made a federal holiday in 1894, society chose to adopt it as the natural endpoint for summer, thus the silly fashion rule that followed.

Benjamin goes on to say that while some celebrities, most notably Coco Chanel, thought the trend ridiculous and wore white all year-round, others obeyed it religiously by the 1950s when women’s magazines were publishing that white was on trend beginning Memorial Day and was back out on Labor Day.

Another theory is that women’s magazines began displaying fall clothes after Labor Day, thus marking an end to the summer season. Because fall clothes are generally darker in color, the myth got stronger. Whatever you believe about this fashion law, just remember it’s all baloney. If Coco Chanel can wear white whenever she wants, so can you.

But I had a feeling this was one of the milder fashion trends so I dug a little deeper to come up with my own personal list of favorite fashion trends, their origins and why I’m glad they have been left in the past.

Macaroni

We all know the Yankee Doodle song about the guy sticking a feather in his hat and calling it macaroni but what the heck is he talking about? Macaroni and cheese was a delicacy in my childhood-not something you stick a feather in. Turns out macaroni was a term used for men who dressed completely over-the-top with the giant wigs, pinstriped tights and apparently feathers in the hats. The term was coined around 1760 and used to describe Britain’s most sophisticated men and their fashion. Why they named themselves after pasta I have yet to determine but I’ll keep you posted.

No eyebrows

Nothing scares me more than a person who’s just all forehead. Like that’s just not acceptable, why would you even do that? Apparently back in the day, it was a trend to go sans eyebrows because a clean face was a pretty face. If you need a reference, the Mona Lisa actually doesn’t have eyebrows for that same reason. I get it, she’s pretty famous, everybody knows her, but I’m going to have to stop her right there. I’m not saying we need to go back to the days of ‘90s eyebrows where they were just drawn on with eyeliner, but you need a little something.

High heels

In ancient Egypt high heels were originally worn by butchers so they could walk around without getting blood on their shoes. Gross, but practical. Then the heel trend moved into being for ceremonial purposes before eventually being worn by knights and horseback-riding people in Persia. The heel would hook to the bottom of the syrup, grounding them a bit and preventing them from falling off. Once the Europeans caught on, it became a trend for powerful people to show just how rich they were. King Louis XIV was reportedly a big fan because he liked the idea of towering over people when he spoke. It wasn’t until the 16th century that women would begin wearing heels. Catherine De Medici is recorded as the first woman to wear heels because she wanted to appear taller at her wedding. Ladies, it turns out at least one of our problems started with men. Who would have thought.

Scented cones

Now this one I’d never heard of, but the concept kind of makes sense if you think about it. Apparently, ancient Egyptians would create wax cones with perfumes and put them on their heads. These were the days before deodorant, obviously. So when it got warm, the wax would melt and the perfumes would help get the stink off, so they thought. I, on the other hand, think that sounds like an absolute mess, but I do get it. Wax will last a while, it will hold the scent and nobody likes to stink. However, why you would purposely turn yourself into a conehead I have yet to determine.

Black teeth

Now this is just plain nasty. By the time Queen Elizabeth I was around, England completely lost control and decided it was cool to have black teeth. Apparently the trend started because she had a crazy sweet tooth and an insane fear of the dentist so she just let her teeth rot. In true royal fashion, she made it a trend and black teeth became a sign of wealth because only the wealthy could afford so many sweets it turned their teeth black. In the late 19th century, Japan jumped on board and made it a trend as well.

And here I thought the latest trend of tiny sunglasses was bad. We’ve got it good, you guys.

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