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Labor Day safety fashion tips

A woman wearing white pants

What is the point of Labor Day? I simultaneously posed this question to both Google and anyone within earshot at the office yesterday and got back numerous responses; ranging from "the last day of summer," to "a celebration of the American worker" and "a day to spend time with family before school starts again." While the internet delivered an in-depth history of American labor unions, the office conversation drifted into family traditions of barbeques, sporting events, camping, beach days and more. And while no one could agree on the best way to spend the unofficial end of summer, everyone brought up the same final point—"isn't it the last day you're supposed to wear white pants?"

And that's true. Traditionally, Labor Day is the last day it is considered fashionable to wear white pants and seersucker suits. While seersucker is a more forgiving material, white, regardless of the fabric, is not. So with that in mind, I present to you a list of ways to safely celebrate this Labor Day weekend and preserve your cherished white trousers so they may rise again next Memorial Day.

Grilling Safety

When most people hear the words "white pants" the first thing that comes to mind is stains, and on Labor Day that means barbeque sauce. Many people may think that putting on an apron and keeping a reasonable distance while their brother-in-law enthusiastically bastes his chicken wings is enough, but here are a few other points to keep in mind:

  • Properly clean the grill of grease and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. A simple stain offers some hope of redemption, but a burnt pair of slacks is never coming back.
  • Keep cold food cold, hot food hot and check the temperature of all cooked meat. Scrubbing a dab of sauce out is one thing, but getting someone sick and having to scrub out something else, is, well, something else entirely. You can find proper food temperatures and other food handling tips on the USDA's website.
  • Check your equipment. If you're using a gas grill, look over the lines and make sure the tank is properly connected. If charcoal is your thing—go easy on the lighter fluid. Again, burns are permanent.

Road Trip Safety

Keeping your britches fresh on the road can be tricky, but with these few tips your weekend should be clean and clear.

  • Get your vehicle tuned-up before you leave. Let's face it, if you have to change a tire or get under the hood of your car, your newly pressed seersucker slacks are not going to live to survive the next season.
  • Plan for the unexpected. Keep an emergency box in the trunk filled with water, blankets, jumper cables, tools, flares, a first-aid kit and whatever you think may come in handy (such as a spot clean pen).
  • Pack accordingly. Just like that second (or third) s'more put a strain on your belt, over-packing your car can make it difficult to maneuver your vehicle. Pack heavy things low and remember to secure anything stored in an open cargo area.

Driving Drunk is Never in Style

Regardless of whether or not you follow the "no white after Labor Day" rule or even know what seersucker is, impaired driving is never an option. The National Safety Council estimates that approximately 400 people die in traffic accidents each year over Labor Day weekend, and in 2010, 22% of all automobile accidents were attributed to intoxicated drivers.

  • Don't drink and drive. You've planned everything else about your weekend; your dish to pass, the friends you're going with, even your outfit—plan a safe way home too. Whether it's a sober friend or a local taxi service, nothing goes better with a smart suit than a chauffeured ride home.
  • Keep your focus on the road. You'll have plenty of time when you get there to show off your outfit or to pick at whatever it is that got spilled on your ivory chinos, in the car keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes forward.
  • Drive defensively. Just like your friends will be more than willing to call you out if you try and sneak your favorite pair of summertime slacks to a late-September garden party, you should be on the lookout for the erratic behavior of other drivers. And don't hesitate to report a driver you suspect is drunk.

Finally, if you see someone about to drive drunk, take their keys and help them to get home safely. Because just as you want your lucky pair of white pants or fitted seersucker jacket to be there next spring, you're going to want your friends to be there even more.

Have a fun and safe weekend!

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