Saturday, September 30, 2023


THE perfect pair of little red ballet flats

Life is good

Friday, September 29, 2023

Another Hero

 I have shared a few of Leslé Honoré's poems here from time to time.  

We can all learn from the inimitable Ms. Honoré and her words of wisdom

Fist & Fire: Poems that Inspire Action and Ignite Passion is available at your favorite bookstore

This poem is one that she posted at Facebook.
It might speak to you, as it did me.

I met with my editor today 

*whispers to my 7 year old self 

“We have an editor”

We looked at the magnificent art for 

My 2nd children’s book 

*whispers to my 17 year old self 

“We have written books

We are an author” 

I met with my team today 

We laughed and learned 

We are growing together 

*whispers to my 27 year old self 

“We have a team”

I sat in my office today 

Looked at pictures of my dragons 

My parents 

At the art on my walls 

*whispers to my 37  year old self 

“We made a life darling. A good life” 


Today I met with myself 


And my 47 year old self held court 

We talked about love

lost and gained 

Love in abundance 

We talked about pain

Smoldering aches

Reoccurring tenderness 

The heartbreaks that broke us

And rebuilt us 

We talked about our dreams 

The ones came true 

The ones we 





I met with myself and told her 

how fucking proud i am of her 

Not of the achievements

But the battles won 

The private ones 

The ones that she carried alone 

How proud i am of her heart 

Of how it can love so profoundly 

Even after it has been betrayed and abused 

Proud how she glued it back together with gold 

Her kintsugi soul 

More beautiful than anything that can dangle from her ears

Wrap around her wrist 

Circle around her finger

Sway against her skin  

I met with the me of long ago

The me of yesterday 

We held each other 

In memory, in promise, in thanksgiving

I met with myself today 


It was a very productive meeting 

Dear FTC - i purchased a copy of  Fist & Fire

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Foggy morning in Meat Camp

"The fog comes on little cat feet . . . "
                  - - - Carl Sandburg


Sunday, September 24, 2023

 “Sundays are like confetti floating in the air in slow motion, 

in the evening they reach the ground 

and you hope a bit of wind could blow on them

 so they could fly a bit longer.” 

                                  ~ Alain Bremond-Torrent 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

 "Warming my cold hands

over my cup, I gaze through

my foggy windows

and feel, not unpleasantly,

all the autumns of my life."

                –  Michael Boiano

Dreamstime stock photo

Friday, September 22, 2023


I have discovered so many new books and authors through

My latest discovery is by Tia Williams.

After reading A LOVE SONG FOR RICKI WILDE, have bought another Tia Williams book. I'm pretty sure I'll be reading everything she's written.

 If you enjoy a little magic in your reading, this might appeal to you. Ricki Wilde is a fun, lovable, artistic, free spirited character. I wish she lived next door. We learn a lot of fascinating Harlem history through her. And Miss Della is the older woman we should all be lucky enough to know.

Oh, and did I mention sexy . . . This is a verry sexy novel.  

(Grand Central Publishing, February 2024)

"One florist. One pianist. One love story…
One hundred years in the making.

Ricki Wilde has many talents, but being a Wilde isn’t one of them. As the impulsive, artistic daughter of a powerful Atlanta dynasty, she’s the opposite of her famous socialite sisters. Where they’re long-stemmed roses, she’s a dandelion: an adorable bloom that’s actually a weed, born to float wherever the wind blows. In her bones, she knows that a more exiting life awaits her, elsewhere.

When a regal nonagenarian, Ms. Della, invites her to rent the bottom floor of her Harlem brownstone, Ricki jumps at the chance to escape her family—and realize her dream of opening a flower shop. And just beneath the surface of her new neighborhood, the music, stories and dazzling drama of the Harlem Renaissance still simmers.

One evening in February as the heady, curiously off-season scent of night-blooming jasmine fills the air, Ricki encounters a handsome, deeply mysterious stranger who knocks her world off balance in the most unexpected way.  

Set against the backdrop of modern Harlem and Renaissance glamour, A Love Song for Ricki Wilde is a steamy, swoon-worthy love story of two passionate artists drawn to the magic of New York—and whose lives are irreversibly linked."

It's available for Pre-Order!

FTC Disclosure Notice

 Dear FTC - Regarding review copies of books obtained for this blog. No other compensation is accepted beyond review copies of books - ever. I received an electronic advance copy of this book from

Wednesday, September 20, 2023



You're getting ready to go on a little trip.  


a big trip.

Which of these philosophies do you follow?

* OR *




If you know me even just the littlest bit, you know I am, without question, a "Let's Shop" kinda gal.

And when my favorite on-line shopping spots have a really good sale, I am one of the first through that virtual front door.

A GOOD sale.  

And I don't mean some skimpy 20 or 25% off.

My mother would declare that a sale for amateurs.  

Because several of you have asked, my best on-line sale shopping recently has been at Poshmark where I scored a NWT good deal (40% off) on a pair of Margaux ballet flats.   (that's New With Tag for those of you who aren't familiar with on-line used clothing shops)  

I LOVE Poshmark.  

Other on-line used clothing shops include The Real Real, 1st Dibs, Gently and I'm sure there are more I'm not aware of.

Poshmark is my go-to spot.  I have found them to be trustworthy.  Their webpage is very fairly friendly once you get the hang of it.

Shopping Hint:  If you see something you like, "Like" it.  This adds a little red heart to the item.  The seller will sometimes/fairly often contact you privately through the web page with an offer.  You then have the opportunity to accept the offer or make a counter offer.  Remember to go back and check for messages!

I also bought a dress I had been coveting from JohnnyWas at their semi-annual warehouse sale for about 70% off.

Another Shopping Hint:  if you see something you like while shopping your favorite on-line shop, put it in your shopping cart and leave.  Sometimes, the vendor will send you an email offering free shipping for that item, or a discount for becoming a "first time" shopper.

There are deals to be had.  But you have to search.  Some people would rather just skip the work and buy at regular (gasp!) prices or a not so significant sale price.

Not me.

There are some pretty terrific "Sale on Sale" deals that are worth looking for and waiting for.  Sometimes the wait is well worth it.  (see above comment about the semi-annual warehouse sale).  

Some I check regularly are J. Crew,  J. Jill, Anthropologie, Farm Rio, Sundance,  Frank & Eileen, Madewell, and Johnny Was.

Have Fun!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Past Pat Conroy Literary Center Resident Writers

 So.  I may have mentioned . . .  😊 😉 

I leave for Beaufort, SC in about five weeks to be the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s next Writer in Residence.

I'm following some very impressive folks.

They are David KiserJulie Cantrell,  Kathy Meadows,  Janna ZonderRobert Gwaltney, and  Heather Bell Adams.

Am i proud to join them in this honor?  

Absolutely as proud as I have ever been about anything in my life.

You can read a little about each of the past residents here.

While I do not know any of them personally, one of the writers on the list especially stood out because I read, and was stunned by, his book THE CICADA TREE.

Robert Gwaltney, in his amazing novel, gives us southern literature at its best, infused with a little magical realism, a lot of southern gothic, and truth as it is known in the south.

If you haven't read it yet, I urge you to pick it up.

In the meantime, if you'd like to taste a little morsel of Mr. Gwaltney's talent, I'm including a link to a piece he wrote for Southern Literary Review about his tenure as a PCLC Writer in Residence during November, 2022 while staying at MarshSong, which is the magical home of the selected residents hosted by the equally magical,  gracious Mary Ellen Thompson.

There's no resisting this essay with a title as delicious and as provocative as --




Thursday, September 14, 2023

Recent Recommendations

 I don't finish reading every book I start.  I'm 74 years old.  There are too many books out there wanting to be read for me to spend my time reading the books that don't speak to me.  Life is short.

Not every book is going to appeal to every audience; that is worth remembering before you publicly pan a book by saying "this book is just awful."

And that's all I'm gonna say about that . . .

I'd rather tell you about books I enjoyed reading.

Description from NetGalley (Pub date April 2024)

Bestselling author Ruth Reichl takes readers on an adventure of food, art, and fashion in 1980s Paris in this dazzling, heartfelt novel

Stella reached for an oyster, tipped her head and tossed it back. It was cool and slippery, the flavor so briny it was like diving into the ocean... Oysters, she thought, where have they been all my life?

When her estranged mother dies, Stella is left with an unusual inheritance: a one-way plane ticket and a note reading Go to Paris. But Stella is hardly cut out for adventure; a childhood trauma has kept her confined to the strict routines of her comfort zone. When her boss encourages her to take time off, Stella resigns herself to honoring her mother’s last wishes.

Alone in a foreign city, Stella falls into old habits, living cautiously and frugally. Then she stumbles across a vintage store where she tries on a fabulous Dior dress. The shopkeeper insists that this dress was meant for Stella and, for the first time in her life, Stella does something impulsive. She buys the dress and together they embark on an adventure. 

Her first stop: iconic brasserie Les Deux Magots, where Stella tastes her first oysters, and then meets an octogenarian art collector who decides to take her under his wing. As Jules introduces her to a veritable who’s who of the 1980s Paris literary, art, and culinary worlds, Stella begins to understand what it might mean to live a larger life.

As weeks—and many decadent meals—go by, Stella ends up living as a “tumbleweed” at famed bookstore Shakespeare & Company, uncovers a hundred-year-old mystery in a Manet painting, and discovers a passion for food that may be connected to her past. A feast for the senses, this novel is a testament to living deliciously, taking chances, and finding your true home.

Description from NetGalley (Pub Date July 2023)

Four women take fate into their own hands in this big-hearted story of friendship, resilience, and revenge on monstrous men, from the award-winning author of Half-Blown Rose. 

Taking inspiration from the infamous, empowering song, Goodbye Earl follows four best friends through two unforgettable summers, fifteen years apart.
In 2004, Rosemarie, Ada, Caroline, and Kasey are in their final days of high school and on the precipice of all the things teenagers look forward to when anything in life seems possible . . . from falling in love, to finding their dream jobs, to becoming who they were meant to be.
In 2019, Kasey has returned to her small Southern hometown of Goldie for the first time since high school—and she still hasn’t told even her closest friends the truth of what really happened that summer after graduation, or what made her leave so abruptly without looking back. Now reunited with her friends in Goldie for a wedding, she’s determined to focus on the simple joy of being together again. But when she notices troubling signs that one of them might be in danger, she is catapulted back to that fateful summer. This time, Kasey refuses to let the worst moments of her past define her; this time, she knows how to protect those she loves at all costs.
Uplifting, sharp-edged, and unapologetic, Goodbye Earl is a funeral for all the “Earls” out there—the abusive men who think they can get away with anything, but are wrong—and a celebration of enduring sisterhood.

Description from NetGalley (Pub Date Sept 2023)

In 1960, a young woman discovers a freedom she never knew existed in this exhilarating, funny, and emotional novel by the bestselling author of She’s Up to No Good.

When Marilyn Kleinman is caught making out with the rabbi’s son in front of the whole congregation, her parents ship her off to her great-aunt Ada for the summer. If anyone can save their daughter’s reputation, it’s Philadelphia’s strict premier matchmaker. Either that or Marilyn can kiss college goodbye.

To Marilyn’s surprise, Ada’s not the humorless septuagenarian her mother described. Not with that platinum-blonde hair, Hermès scarf, and Cadillac convertible. She’s sharp, straight-talking, takes her job very seriously, and abides by her own rules…mostly. As the summer unfolds, Ada and Marilyn head for the Jersey shore, where Marilyn helps Ada scope out eligible matches—for anyone but Marilyn, that is.

Because if there’s one thing Marilyn’s learned from Ada, it’s that she doesn’t have to settle. With the school year quickly approaching and her father threatening to disinherit her, Marilyn must make her choice for her future: return to the comfortable life she knows or embrace a risky, unknown path on her own.

Note:   Dear FTC - Regarding review copies of books obtained for this blog. No other compensation is accepted beyond review copies of books - ever. When I do write a review, or opinion, the source of the book cited will be disclosed in the post in which the review/opinon appears. Each of these 3 books came to me via NetGalley. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Names by Billy Collins


Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name --

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.

A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner --

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.

When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in a green field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

*This poem is dedicated to the victims of September 11 and to their survivors.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Be Yourself

 Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

— Max Ehrmann, 1927

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Boone Author Selected As Recipient of the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s Fall 2023 Writer’s Residency

 From High Country Press:

Boone Author Selected As Recipient of the Pat Conroy Literary Center's Fall 2023 Writer's Residency

Boone Author Selected As Recipient of the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s Fall 2023 Writer’s Residency

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2023 at 9:03 am
Updated: Tuesday, August 22, 2023 at 9:04 am
Boone’s own Kaye Wilkinson Barley was chosen from writers across 20 states as recipient of the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s Fall 2023 Writer’s Residency. Photo submitted.

By Sherrie Norris

Kaye Wilkinson Barley of Boone has been named recipient of the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s Fall 2023 Writer’s Residency.

Barley will spend a week in Beaufort, SC, at the MarshSong cottage, in conjunction with the 8th annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival, held in late October.

Barley was chosen from a large pool of talented writers — representing 20 states —who applied for the residency program,  one of two opportunities offered twice each year by the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center.

The residency is available to writers of all genres, published or unpublished.  Located on a salt marsh on St. Helena Island, approximately 15 minutes from historic downtown Beaufort, the residency cottage provides an inspirational, creative space in the heart of Pat Conroy’s beloved low-country for an eight-day stay. 

Barley will also have the opportunity to attend up to three writers workshops during the literary festival.

When High Country Press spoke with Barley on Monday, just hours after she was notified of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she said she was “still wiping tears.” Tears of joy, for sure, at her latest accomplishment.

A longtime fan of Conroy, the late American author who wrote several acclaimed novels and memoirs, Barley and her husband, Don, traveled around the southeast to attend his signings and purchase his books.

Barley, an award-winning author of several books and anthology contributions, in 2015, was a finalist in the Southern Writers Magazine short story contest. “Picnics with Aunt Kathryn,’ is one of her all-time favorites among her many works. She was honored “and tickled pink,” she said, to have a story included in the 2016 Bouchercon Anthology, edited by Greg Herren. “I was further gratified when Blood on the Bayou was awarded an Anthony in 2017.” 

Blood on the Bayou was published in conjunction with Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, which was held in New Orleans in 2016 and includes stories by best-selling authors Gary Phillips, David Morrell, Alison Gaylin, Elaine Viets and many others.

A self-described “voracious reader and lover of books, a long-time blogger, an indie author, an amateur photographer, dabbler in mixed media collages, and fiddler of fiber arts,” Barley believes creativity is essential to the soul.

Retired from Appalachian State University since 2011, Barley was the Department Secretary in the Dept. of Philosophy and Religion for 14 years, and prior to that worked in Human Resources.  

She and Don, her husband of 35 years, moved to Boone from Atlanta in 1987, continuing to reside here with their “princess of a pup”—Annabelle, a fluffy Welsh Corgi.

“We’re both retired and spending time doing things together we both enjoy—photography and traveling,” Barley shared. “We both, of course, have individual interests that we pursue on our own. While Donald is off exploring the world on his motorcycle, I might be reading, writing, or cooking up a big pot of chili. I’m a collector of ‘things’ pretty and sparkly. I’m opinionated and mouthy, but a marshmallow at heart. Loyal to a fault. And have strong (very strong) political opinions.

While we’re not always in agreement on all things, we (Don and I) do agree on what we both believe are life’s most important concerns—trying to live by The Golden Rule and doing no harm to others while accepting no nonsense.”  

As music lovers who have managed to see most of their favorite bands and musicians in concert, the couple also spends a great deal of time in search of the perfect pizza.

Applying for the Residency

Applying for the Writer in Residency opportunity was a rather simple process for Barley, she said. “I saw the application on-line, and filled it out, hit send, and received notification this morning (Monday) that my submission was the winning entry. 

The requirements were easy for her, Barley admitted: From telling a brief story of how she “found her voice” the first time, expressing how being in the lowcountry for a residency will benefit her writing, and how her presence will benefit the people she will meet there; also, a short bio, her favorite Pat Conroy quote, (of which she has so many!), and a writing sample of her work, which, as one would expect, greatly impressed the selection panel. 

The Pat Conroy Literary Festival began as Pat Conroy’s 70th birthday celebration in October 2015 and continues as an annual signature event of the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center. 

The 8th Annual Conroy Festival will be held on Thursday, October 26, through Sunday, October 29, as a series of free and ticketed events in Beaufort, SC, featuring author discussions, writers workshops, a poetry reading, a screening of the film The Lords of Discipline, a musical performance, and a ribbon cutting for the new Witness Tree Park.

Conroy’s books, which include The Water is Wide, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, were made into films, the last two being nominated for Oscars. Born October 26, 1945 in Atlanta, Ga., 

Conroy was 70 when he died on March 4, 2016 at his home in Beaufort, SC from pancreatic cancer. He is buried in a small cemetery on St. Helena Island near the Penn Center, where as a teenager he first met Martin Luther King and where he was honored in 2011 for his dedication to social justice.

To learn more about Barley, visit her Facebook page, her website at, or email 

 For details about Pat Conroy, his life, impact and the literary festival, visit

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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

To shop, or not . . .

To which my mom would roll her eyes, let Mr. Thoreau know she disagreed, grab her bag and go shopping.

I'm with my mom.  

She raised me to shop.  And to seek out a good bargain.

There was never a family vacation that didn't include a shopping trip.

And she would have been over-joyed with some of the 75% off Labor Day sales I found.

I have become my mama.

I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Lightly child, lightly.

 "It’s dark because you are trying too hard. 

Lightly child, lightly. 

Learn to do everything lightly. 

Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. 

Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. 

I was so preposterously serious in those days… 

Lightly, lightly — it’s the best advice ever given to me… so throw away your baggage and go forward. 

There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. 

That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…"

                                 ~Aldous Huxley~

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Wearing white after Labor Day

* * *

I Wore White After Labor Day

I was so scared that my hair turned gray.

All because I wore white after Labor Day.

I was so scared that I damn nearly died of fright.

People became violent and I was forced to fight.

People were enraged just because I decided to wear white.

They kicked and punched me and some would even bite.

People kicked my ass on a regular basis and I had quite a scare.

I was so frightened that I constantly had to change underwear.

I got my share of bruises, broken bones and cuts.

An elderly woman even shoved her foot up my butt.

When it was all over, I was amazed that somebody didn't have to call my next of kin.

If I live to be a hundred, I swear that I'll never wear white after Labor Day again.

        - - - Randy Johnson


Here we go.

Will you be wearing white after Labor Day?

Many of you think this is a silly question.


There are still women who, whether they will admit it or not, will just quietly put away their white jeans and white dresses and bring them back out after Memorial Day.

Am I one of them?


I have an adorable white dress I want to take to South Carolina with me in October.  The end of October.  It does, after all, have long sleeves - that matters, right? 🤔

Thinking on this . . .

Will let you know . . .

Vogue says it's completely okay.  But how I would feel may trump what Vogue says.

Thinking on this . . .

Will let you know . . .

In the meantime, here's a little history about how this fashion "rule" came into existence.

From Vogue -

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that you can’t wear white after Labor Day. But why? It’s a fashion rule that has been parroted by grandmothers, general interest magazines, and teenage mean girls for generations, as if it’s a statute that society has always abided by. Break it and—the horror!—you’re committing a sartorial sin.

As with so many American fashion edicts, though, its origins can be traced back to the elite of the Gilded Age. Every summer, they would decamp from the crowded, sweltering city to cooler places by the ocean, such as Newport or Southampton, for the entire season. Packed in their trunks were wardrobes of white.

It was a practical choice, above all: back then, it was wholly inappropriate to wear tank tops, shorts, or mini-dresses even as the temperatures soared. White, which reflects light, keeps the wearer cooler. Plus, linen—a popular, breathable fabric especially for suits—usually came in neutral tones.

The emergence of sportswear also played a role: in the early 19th century, tennis became a popular co-ed sport among the moneyed classes. Wearing a white uniform had been a tradition since 16th-century France, where the nobles wore it playing indoor jeu de paume. In fact, in 1877, London’s Wimbledon Club made it a strict requirement for their players. Why? White masks sweat—which, at the time, was considered extremely unseemly to show, especially in the presence of the opposite sex. For those reasons, it also became popular with leisure sports like cycling: many women adopted a shirtwaist ensemble that involved white—or a long skirt paired with a feminine blouse—which allowed for easier movement, as exemplified most memorably in John Singer Sargent’s 1897 portrait of Gilded Age socialite Edith Minturn.

Then, there was a class element at play: white didn’t show sweat, but it did show dirt. To wear white was a subtle way of showing you weren’t doing the landscaping, cooking, or cleaning—or, well, manual labor at all.

When fall came, the wealthy packed their whites away. They didn’t need to wear them: the temperatures had cooled, the tennis tournaments had finished. But they also couldn’t wear them. Back then, the New York City streets were made of dirt, covered in horse excrement, as well as rotting garbage. If you walked out in the color, it would soon be covered in grime of mysterious origins. “White, while perfect for the country, it is, because it soils so easily, impossible for town wear,” Vogue wrote in 1925.

That’s not to say there was any kind of stigma around wearing white: white furs were always popular in the winter, while women often wore lighter colors to balls or at the opera. (To do so was a status symbol, as it showed you had a carriage staffed with footmen that could ensure your dress wouldn’t get dirty in the process.) In fact, if you look at Gilded to Progressive back issues of Vogue, you’ll find many of our illustrations featuring women in white or lightly-hued fancy dress.

In the 1910s and 1920s, however, everything changed. With the mass production of Henry Ford’s Model T in 1908, a new era for New York City was ushered in—and what was once a carriage town quickly became a car town. From 1915, even those who didn’t have a Ford could hire a cab from John Hertz’s Yellow Cab company. Rail transportation, too, rapidly expanded: in 1913, the city signed what is known today as “the dual contracts.” Over the next 49 years, New York’s subway system became one of the most sophisticated and sprawling in the world.

How does that relate to wearing white, I hear you ask? The final piece of the puzzle lies in the expansion of New York City’s Sanitation Department, led by Colonel Waring.

In 1895, a New York Times article read “Clean Streets At Last,” waxing hopeful about the department’s future after visiting a once derelict street in Manhattan. “The Times man had seen dead cats there festering on a July day, black with buzzing swarms of flies; piles of decaying vegetables, and green gutters, with bubbles bursting with fetid gases. Now he noticed that there were clean gutters and absolute sweetness.” By the 1920s, Waring’s “White Wings”—or sanitation workers who wore white uniforms to show a medical-like authority—were commonplace on the streets. So, slowly but surely, the reasons why you couldn't wear white in the city—the dirt, garbage, and excrement that came from navigating the crowded roads—faded away. Similar trends were growing in European cities as well: in Paris, Coco Chanel started wearing white regardless of the season. Meanwhile, American Vogue began dressing models in “winter whites” throughout their cold-weather issues—an aesthetic you can still find in Vogue’s pages today.

Yet, old habits die hard, and somehow, the “no white after labor day” old wives’ tale has stuck—almost bafflingly so. In Amy Vanderbilt’s Ladies Home Journal advice column in the 1970s, she responded to a reader who posed the question: “I don’t know where the rule began, but it no longer holds.” And, throughout the decades, some of the world’s best-dressed women from, yes, Coco Chanel, to Gigi Hadid, to Michelle Obama, have worn the color all year round.

So, perhaps the time is nigh to issue a declaration: We don’t live in the Gilded Age anymore. Our streets are paved. Our trash is taken out. You can wear white after Labor Day."