Don’t Wear White After Labor Day.

Bella Estrada, a senior studying History at the University of Southern California, who hails from Los Angeles, California, provided four pieces of folklore for this collection.

The interview was run, amidst dinner and drinks, at the University of Southern California located Greenleaf, a popular post-class bar for many students at the prestigious institution.

Folk Performance: Don’t Wear White After Labor Day.

Folk Type: Proverb.

“You’re pretty into fashion, right? Any folklore related to that?” – Stanley Kalu

STORY: So…I’m not sure if this is a nation-wide thing or just specific to California but I was always told growing up to not wear white past labor day. I don’t know what the origins of this social faux-pas/fashion faux pas is but it’s a proverb nonetheless.

Background Information:

The fashion rule came into effect late 1800s and early 1900s. Post Civil War, there was a sudden rise in “new-money” families and the sudden rise in millionaires threated the way of life for the “more respectable, old-money families.” In the 1880’s, the old money women created a bunch of rules designed to exclude the “new-money families.” This folk-practice was one of the many exclusionary rules.

Context Performance: As aforementioned, this was a practice used to exclude “new-money families” from high-society situations. This would include balls, galas, garden parties, and the opera.

The context of Bella’s rehashing of the tale was done after our “Forms of Folklore” class taught by Tok Thompson because the both of us had a folklore collection project due.

Thoughts: This appears to be an inversion of the traditional function of “folklore” as described by Abrahams, in the sense that it is folk that was spread by high-society, which is to say it is top-down, rather than the traditional bottom-up movement.