White Noise

by zoé b

Labor Day has come and Labor Day has gone. Summer is [socially] fini, though technically we’ve got nine more days til the start of fall. But with so many autumn shindigs a-comin’, ie fall outfit ops, who has time to mourn the dog days past?

Now that we’ve had a full ten days to grieve, let’s just go ahead and address the big white elephant in the room: can one enrobe oneself in said animal’s skin tone past the first weekend of this month?

In short, oui.

Firstly, if we’re going to be all posh and bothered about this rule, let’s make sure we’re being correct as well: historically, the rule applies to shoes only, and that includes soles. Especially soles. Now think about who made this rule (we’ll get to that nonsense shortly but continue to consider for the time being that those who penned it are, and always will be, the utmost authority on les règles de la mode) and let us consider why this rule was made: if Labor Day is the end of summer, socially speaking, then all summertime activities cease and desist til the Day of our Savior’s Rising in the Spring. Until then, the tennis rackets and their accompanying footwear are shelved and the sailboats with their requisite white-soled boat shoes are docked.  So if you’re not out sailing you should begin saying farewell to your Sperry’s and promise you’ll see them again next year.

But if you’re in the Bahamas or Florida, or even if you’re even just down in Galveston, can’t you be out on the water well into December? But of course you can, and your boat deck needn’t be scuffed up just for fashion’s sake, and honestly, though boating may conjure up all sorts of Jackie O-on-Aristotle’s-yacht-type style fantasies, the truth of the matter is boating is not a glamour-driven sport. And so we begin to see the cracks in this allegedly unsinkable No-White-After-Labor-Day decree.

I’m reminded of a photo I saw several years ago on the Sartorialist’s blog:


She’s walking through the Tuileries in November and looks perfectly seasonable. This is actually one of my all-time favorite outfits, and incidentally the one that prompted my acquisition of these Frye engineer boots shortly thereafter.

I currently have my eye on a black pair of OTK boots—I think these may finally be The Ones—and I do believe they’d look more than a little spiffy with a pair of white skinny jeans and black moto jacket, an idea inspired by the Tuileries muse. Per the Rule, I can’t wear that because white is now so passé. But if I wait until after Easter, my boots will be too.

Labor Day is a strictly American holiday but puh-lease; since when do we in America decide the world’s sartorial standards? Though the CFDA would likely disagree, “We the People” are not the international authority on how to dress. Though no one’s chic like a French girl is, I think the photo above proves layering and accented juxtaposition can transition any color, any garment, and anyone into Fall. If the Tuileries girl can do white jeans and make it seem appropriate, I can do them too. But let’s forget appropriateness; that’s not something I’d ever hear a French girl worrying about. And if French girls aren’t the standard, who is?

So let’s put color aside and consider cloth instead. Linen, seersucker, Madras and the like do not do well into early October. Garments in these fabrications should be put away when a chill hits the air, mostly because they’re just non-functional at that point. We need suede, and wool, fur, and—my favorite—leather. But again, if you’re a college kid in the SEC, by all means wear your seersucker to that Saturday morning tailgate. It’s 100% appropriate as long as the weather permits.

The issue then is not whether you wear the color white, but how you wear it. White jeans and boots with a dark color top? How clever! Hearing your silk blouse crying limply from its hanger? Layer with a turtleneck and take it out on the town. Still want to wear your platform sandals into fall? Put some opaque tights underneath. Love your jean shorts like you’re a Never Nude? Do the same thing. Kate Moss does. All the time.

White denim shorts + black opaque tights + boots + a turtleneck and blouse?  Do not mind if I do!

boots: Frye. shorts: 7 for All Mankind. sweater: Helmut Lang. blouse: Equipment. That’s right. It’s a sweater UNDER a blouse!

See you again tomorrow September; I’ll be dressed and ready.