Neely-Dorsey: All Southerners Know About the Labor Day Rule!

made in mississippi patricia dorsey

Summer is fast coming to an end and the fall months will soon make their arrival.

Traditionally, Labor Day has always been a sort of marker for the change of the seasons. In times past for Southerners Labor Day signaled a definitive change in wardrobe.

Though staunch rules of etiquette and stiff dress codes have all but vanished in today’s society, most older generation Southerners remember when there was a very strict and strongly enforced rule involving Labor Day.

Everyone knew : NO WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY (or before Easter)!

This meant no white dresses (except of course, white wedding dresses which were and are always in season) no white belts, shoes (especially not shoes!), purses, and so on. No self-respecting Southerner would ever even think of breaking the rule or be caught dead wearing some white shoes after this appointed date! It just wasn’t done!

If someone did happen to break the rule, everyone no doubt thought in their heads: “Bless their hearts. They didn’t have proper raisin’!”

It seemed as though we all had the same Southern mother, because we all knew the same Southern rules! Southerners are known for hospitality, sweet tea… and a zillion rules! We strongly believe in things being “decent and in order.”

No one ever really notices those types of things much anymore , but this one Southerner remembers and still abides by “The Labor Day Rule.”

a a a rules poem

patricia dorsey

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is the author of two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems and My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems. Through her poems, the author hopes to protect, preserve and promote the rich cultural history and heritage of her state and region along with providing more positive images than all of the negative images usually portrayed. Patricia lives in Tupelo with her husband James, son Henry and Miniature Schnauzer, Happy. The author has been named a Goodwill Ambassador for the state by Governor Phil Bryant. Her slogan is “Always, Always Celebrating the South and Promoting a Positive Mississippi ” Her website is and her email is


  1. I don’t wear white between Labor Day and Easter, and probably look down on those who do! HaHa! But “winter white” is a different story (and I call it “cream”!)

  2. I loved the poem. It brought back so many memories of growing up in Holly Springs. We were definitely taught no white after Labor Day, and a slew of other rules intertwined in the poem.

  3. Works for gents too. In Savannah white and seersucker is between Memorial Day and Labor Day, tho’ reality is more like Easter to Columbus Day. No white dinner jackets after dark (maybe) Poem nails it!

  4. Love the poem. So all of my manners and etiquette stemmed from my Grandmother, who was born in Decatur, Alabama. I do have a cream colored winter coat. I think white winter hats, boots and gloves are fine. I wouldn’t wear white blouses (“What’s a blouse? I’ve been asked by a younger woman LOL), slacks, shoes or purses after labor day. As for the above manners, I think the world would get along much better by keeping those around.

  5. Love this..,but what about open toe shoes or patent leather ones….they also fell into the Easter to Labor Day period….well at least that the way my Mama taught me?

  6. Since I’m a Rebel (not related to the “War Between The States”) I relish breaking such rules because I now live on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Also, at 81 years of age, I figure it’s time I can do whatever suits me. I have noticed that there always seems to be a “cool spell” when it gets close to Easter, no matter where I live and I still tend to think I need an Easter outfit that’s new and somewhere in that area of a pale soft color like Easter eggs…


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