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Modern Manners + Etiquette: White After Labor Day & Evite Etiquette

Thursday, September 06, 2012


Who created the no-white-after-Labor-Day rule, and should we still be following it? Photo: Helga Weber/flickr

Much ado this week about the etiquette of wearing white after Labor Day at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com, as well as Evite Etiquette, Who should be mentioned in an obituary, and morning wedding guest dress code.

Dear Didi,
Is it still taboo to wear white after Labor Day? K.Z., Providence

Dear K.Z.,
In the dark cult classic 'Serial Mom,' Beverly Sutphi (Kathleen Turner), thought wearing white after Labor Day was a faux pas and after telling her lawyer why one of the jurors (played by Patty Hearst) who judged her shouldn't be wearing white shoes, he advised Beverly to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

The no-white rule after Labor Day originates from Victorian times when wearing white was as much a status symbol for the middle and upper classes during the summer, as not wearing white was the status nuance after Labor Day. The fashion nuance was that if you didn't know the rule, you weren't fashionable. Coco Chanel wore white year round and today best-dressed list stars such as Mary J. Blige, Michelle Obama, and Gwyneth Paltrow are known for often wearing shades of white, from bright white to winter white, that include the white tones ash, eggshell, cream, pearl, bone, ivory and ecru. White is like black. You can wear it year 'round. White looks good on all skin tones and when freshly cleaned, looks pure and timeless.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My stepson died suddenly. My husband and I live in another state, but we attended the wakes and funeral service and were helpful in any way we could be to my stepson's wife, children, and my husband's ex-wife and her family. Everyone was deeply sad and yet we were all consoling and cordial to each other. When the obituary came out, they did not name the father (my husband) as a survivor of his son nor did they mention him at all. The only family members mentioned were his former wife, their children, and his mother and siblings. The ex-wife is single. I'm not sure whether this was an oversight on the part of the funeral home or the person who wrote the article, but it stung my husband and made him even sadder. Too late now to do anything about it. We just have to let it go but it broke my heart to see him unacknowledged: he was a loving father to all his children. My question is this: Is it proper to mention the surviving father in his son's obituary even though the parents have been divorced for many years? What is the proper etiquette (if any) for including father's and perhaps stepmom's names in the obituary? Thank you very much.  G.B., Chicago

Dear G.B.,
I am sorry for your loss. This is a huge mistake on the part of the funeral home that placed the obituary. You and your husband shouldn't have had to suffer any further. Do not take this as a personal slight because you and your husband were not intentionally left out of the obituary. Go forward in support of your stepson's wife and children emotionally. It's important, especially for the children, to know that you are there for them. Don't take it out on the son's wife and children for this gross mistake by not being attentive to them. With your husband, continue to forge and foster your own relationship with your stepson's wife and children. They all need you.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Is it proper to send an Evite (online invitation) for a retirement party?  Hate writing out 100 invitations.  J.C., West Hartford, CT

Dear J.C.,
Love Evites for a big crowd because I get an instant response from those who can attend and from those who cannot. When there are a lot of regrets right away, you know there's a conflicting event and you can quickly send out more Evites. Also, you have the option to send a reminder a couple of days out, which, quite frankly—in this busy world—is helpful in encouraging those who haven't replied to make the commitment. You'll need to have a headcount a couple of days out before arranging for food and beverages, so it makes sense to put a cutoff date for replying. The added bonus is that Evites are cost-effective and, as you say, you don't have to write out all those invitation envelopes by hand.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My Uncle is getting married on October 7th and it's a morning wedding at 11am. My sisters and cousins and I are walking down the aisle, but sitting down. Then we are getting up in front and we're each doing a reading during the ceremony. They don't care about what we are wearing but only that we look nice. There is no specific bridal party. I bought a blue short appropriate dress that has a silver brooch. My question is what color shoes and purse is appropriate? I wanted to wear a silver pair I already have, but as it's a morning wedding, is silver okay?  Shelly, Johnston

Dear Shelly,
A morning wedding isn't dressy. Silver shoes are fine, if they are neither dressy or strappy. You don't want to look as though you're still in the same outfit you were out clubbing in the night before. Think about wearing a daytime outfit, such as a just above the knee length skirt-suit or day dress that is tailored to flatter your figure, with closed dark or nude colored pumps or flats, and carry a small clutch bag that works with the colors. If you wear the blue dress with nude colored shoes, a nude tone bag would be classic. If you're looking for a fashionable pop of bright color for shoes to wear with your blue dress, cobalt blue is a trendy color this fall that works as well in the morning, as it does after midnight. ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, after reading her earlier GoLocal columns, some of which are listed below.


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