Tuesday, May 29

Under The Pergola Column is Back-- Summer in the Hamptons and Wearing and Decorating With White After Memorial Day!

Under The Pergola Column:
Wearing White Only After Memorial Day--
Is it a light hearted style rule or confinement?   
To me, wearing white after Memorial Day has become a fun tradition to ring in summer.  I for one, still adhere to the notion even though I certainly wouldn't consider myself a "slave to fashion" in any regard.  It just feels right to wait until after Memorial Day to wearing head-to-toe white or even start carrying my gleaming white hand bag or sport my white jeans.  Of course we all know rules are there for the breaking, so without sounding rigid, it is one of those proclamations I kind of enjoy following-- maybe because it makes the summer months feel extra special.  
 traditional summer cottage with slipcovers by designer William Neff featured in Hooked On Houses
photo credit, Philip Clayton-Thompson
I like to take that fascination with white and apply it to decorating as well.  In our beach house, I pull out the white slipcovers for my sofa and chairs every summer.  It feels fresh and light to adorn my home with a bit more white in the summer months.  Some think the reason for all this white obsession is because here in the northeast we are only gifted three months a year with blaring sun and hot temperatures, and we collectively celebrate summer big because of it.  This "white rule" seems to relish in the special-ness of summer. The interior design industry has had a fascination with "white slipcovers" in summer which is the same ideology in many mays.  In a 1983  New York Times article interior designer Keith Irvine was quoted...


"in large European houses of the 16th century, the good upholstered furniture was protected with ''loose covers,'' actually nothing more than bed linens draped over the furniture. ''There were so many servants in those grand houses that anyone who happened to be handy with a needle would often take the loose covers and sew them to fit the furniture more exactly. That's how the first proper slipcovers were created. By the 18th century fitted summer slipcovers had become a common household item.''
Of course I consulted with the arbiter of great style and over at the Emily Post website, I think this quote can be taken that if you do wear white in the Fall maybe choose a heavier weight rather then white linen pants. 

"The true interpretation for wearing white is 
'wear what’s appropriate'—
for the weather, the season, or the occasion.”
The Emily Post website

However, I suspect there are historical reasons for this rule, so I dove a little deeper to uncover some interesting tidbits, and the white rule appears to have some darker roots.  For one, there does seem evidence to support a link between women's upward societal mobility with this fashion rule. Despite that during the 1900s women were making huge strides (um, a little thing like women's right to vote-- the 19th amendment), women in upper class society were still being judged (many say that is still happening today) by what they wore.  The trend setters at the time were critiqued by their choices and those who started wearing white only between Memorial day and Labor day set themselves apart by creating a private club mentality and proving they could actually afford a second summer wardrobe.
Whatever all the reasons in history, many of us enjoy the changes of infusing white into our wardrobe and our home for the summer months, and it's now official and okay to start since it is after Memorial Day, so enjoy! 

Happy Nesting
XO Tamara