Is Labor Day the last day of the year to wear white? What would Miranda of “The Devil Wears Prada” say?
What else does Labor Day represent? Depending on who you ask they may say it means the following:
1. Last weekend for a summer holiday
2. Great day for retail sales
3. An extra day away from work/school
4. A good day for the 3 b’s (beer, barbecue, boating)
5. TV Marathon of favorite shows
But what does Labor Day really mean?
Labor Day has evolved over the years, the first Labor Day in America was a celebration of the growing unionize workforce. It was the Central Labor Union that put the wheels in motion and targeted September 5, 1882, at Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue in New York City, which was the largest park in the city at the time, to be last stop of the Labor Day Celebration.
Did you know the first Labor Day celebration many had to lose a day of pay to participate? It’s true. The plan was to have a parade of union workers that would end at the park for a celebration party, which garnered 20,000 tickets to be sold and the proceeds going to each union represented in the parade. September 5 came, which happened to be a Tuesday, and at first they were afraid not many would show up.
Only a hand full showed up while hundreds stood on the sideline. Later more showed up, 200 workers and a band from the Jewelers’ Union, another band from the bricklayer’s Union, by the time they reached the park there were 10,000 marchers in the parade supporting the workers. By the third year Labor Day had moved to the 1st Monday of September.
I would like to think that was a glorious day as the music played, games to enjoy, with good food to eat, plenty beer to consume, and I’m sure many tall tales. That doesn’t sound too far off from how many celebrate Labor Day today.
But what about the abandonment of wearing white after Labor Day?
In the early 1900’s those who lived by this rule were mostly the rich and elite who could afford to vacation at their summer villas and abroad. Of course, the wardrobe included lovely flowing white dresses, linen white pants, fashionable white fedoras, and tailored summer jackets striped in white and pastels….Great Gatsby style.
Labor Day, being the last holiday of summer, not only signaled the end of summer but it was also the time to return to their winter homes, which meant the wardrobe and the summer mentality came to an end. It was back to the black suits and serious wear as the rich and elite returned home among the hard working American folks. In those times, there really wasn’t a middle class just the rich and the working.
As the progression of politics came after the Great Depression this gave birth to suburban living and the middle class we know today who could afford to vacation and relax like the rich. Although the thought of what the rich had put in place still took many more years to shake, banning white post Labor Day, but eventually it did fade away with the help of the fashion world turning our attention to “winter white”.
I can remember as a child, before “winter white”, we didn’t wear white shoes, dresses, pants, hats or sweaters after labor day. In fact, you were seen as a fashion faux pas if you did?
So as we celebrate this day of Labor from one way or another let’s make sure to remember the inception of the many Labor Unions that were created to protect the American Workforce during a time when workers had no representation or laws to support their efforts. The gathering of two or more formed a Union and from there workers had a united front to speak on their behalf to advocate for better wages, safety, settle grievances, equable working conditions among other actions benefiting the workers.
I plan to catch up on my writing, enjoy the family, and relax before I’m back to the grind. And about wearing white after Labor Day…..it looks good to me. What about you?
Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day!
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