Day of labor, day of rest

The Wilton Historical Society offers some information on Labor Day, as we approach the unofficial end of summer.

On Sept. 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. After marching from city hall, past reviewing stands in Union Square, and then uptown to 42nd Street, the workers and their families gathered in Wendel’s Elm Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches. This first Labor Day celebration was eagerly organized and executed by New York’s Central Labor Union, an umbrella group made up of representatives from many local unions.

New York’s Labor Day celebrations inspired similar events across the country. In 1894, Congress passed legislation making Labor Day a national holiday.

The Eight-Hour Day movement is part of the early history of the celebration of Labor Day in many nations and cultures — eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation, eight hours of rest.

Nowadays, Labor Day is associated less with union activities and protest marches and more with leisure. For many, the holiday is a time for family picnics, sporting events, and summer’s last hurrah.

For the fashion conscious, Labor Day was the last day you could wear white.

Whether due to the dictates of high society, the suitability of white for hot weather, or the tyranny of fashion, Labor Day, falling at the end of the summer, is (or was) considered the last day of the year when it is correct to wear white.

Not everyone bought into the idea. Fashion icon Coco Chanel didn’t give a hoot about the rule and made white a permanent part of her wardrobe.

With white gloves gone the way of the rotary phone, fashion came up with a  color called winter white, giving women the option to dress in light colors year round.