This is the time of year when the summer that seemed so long just a few weeks ago now feels perilously close to ending. Back to school info is already starting to arrive and the days are getting a bit shorter. Before you know it, you’ll have switched from complaining about how hot it is outside to complaining about how cold it is outside.

With the conclusion of summer, comes the style directive to not wear white after Labor Day. Admittedly, that’s a stupid rule that was originally conceived by snotty elites at the turn of the 20th century to identify the haves from the have-nots. But the fact remains that the days of wearing your summer whites are dwindling, more for practical reasons than anything else. As the weather turns, it becomes tougher to keep your whites clean and you need clothes that will keep you warm instead of cool.

So go out and rock the summer whites while you still can. Just make sure you pull off the look properly, by following these simple rules, which are far less stupid than the “No white after Labor Day” one.

courtesy levi

courtesy levi’s

You could easily go out and spend $200 or more on a pair of white jeans made from Japanese selvedge denim, but that money would be better put towards some blue jeans. It is inevitable that your white jeans are going to get dirty so you don’t want to be heartbroken or wallet-broken when your pair gets a grass stain on them. Instead go for a pair of tried and true Levi’s 501s in white. (They’re on sale right now for $47.)

Wearing an all white or mostly white outfit is a bold move. And some guys make the mistake of thinking that all loud fashion statements go together, so why not pair my white jeans with an in-your-face printed shirt and some bright colored sneakers? That’s the wrong call. The goal is classy, not clown-y, so stick with simple colors like black and navy when you’re putting together the other items in your outfit.

Knowing where to wear your summer whites is as important as what you wear. As stated above, summer whites make a statement, and that statement is better received in certain venues. Don’t rock your all-white outfit at the office. Odds are, your boss doesn’t have the same refined style sense you do and won’t get it. Bonfires on the beach and backyard BBQs are better locales. But make sure you have a full itinerary. If that afternoon BBQ is going to lead into a dive bar pub crawl, you may want to go with an outfit that won’t show every speck of dirt.

courtesy hanes

courtesy hanes

The white T-shirt is crucial to any summer wardrobe. It is also the most susceptible to turning, shall we say, off-white. Whether it’s armpit stains, or having air conditioning fluid drip on you as you walk the streets, white tees are not one of those garments that getter better with wear. Fortunately, they aren’t expensive. You can get a 7-pack of Hanes crewneck undershirts for $20. That should be enough to get you through the summer and no further. As soon as your fresh white tee gets that not so fresh feeling it’s time to turn it into a rag.

Everett Collection

Everett Collection

The right fit is important with any outfit, but doubly so when wearing your summer whites. You don’t want to go too baggy lest you wind up looking like a retiree in Del Boca Vista. Too slim and you run the risk of being mistaken for a raver in Ibiza. So try to find clothes that are right down the middle to ensure that you pull off the look with a classic style.

Justin Tejada is a writer and editor based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @just_tejada.