I remember the exact moment I received my first ever fashion magazine. At the time, I was a bespectacled, slightly chubby pre-teen with a breakout (if that paints a picture), and I desperately wanted to belong. I decided that the magazines were my personal playbook for reinventing myself, and I dutifully studied their beauty tips and fashion rules while completing each issue’s “Does He Like You?” quiz. I can tell you this: The quizzes assured me that I’d marry my high school crush (I didn’t), the beauty tips encouraged me to get a pixie cut (the stylist gave me a mullet), and their proclaimed fashion no-nos are now (surprise, surprise) modern-day dos.
Fashion Rules That Are So Yesterday
Here’s a little secret I’ve learned: When it comes to style, there really are no rules. Just focus on what works for you — and definitely don’t live your life by the misguided fashion commandments below:
Outdated Rule #1: Wearing white after Labor Day is strictly forbidden.
Remember that scene in Serial Mom when Kathleen Turner’s character goes ballistic over a woman wearing white shoes after Labor Day? Well, I certainly do. It was a funny albeit slightly terrifying commentary on one of the oldest fashion rules in the book, and I’m happy to say that this “rule” is totally passé. Its origins are believed to date back to the late 1800s after Labor Day officially became a federal holiday, and it was apparently just one of many made-up rules that high-society women used to differentiate themselves from “new money.” But we’ve moved past that kind of snobbery now, right?
Honestly, who knows? But answer me this: If wearing white in the cooler months is so wrong, then why do winter whites even exist? Exactly.
Outdated Rule #2: Horizontal stripes make you look wider.
Contrary to popular belief, horizontal stripes are not the devil. In fact, they can actually be slimming. As a general guideline, go for thin stripes to keep the lines from overpowering your frame — and make sure that the stripes aren’t the same width so that the pattern is properly balanced.
Outdated Rule #3: Leggings are not pants.
Here’s the thing: For a while there, some people abused leggings. They wore semi-sheer, too-tight designs with crop tops beneath harsh sunlight. They wore them too tight and ushered in the camel-toe phenomenon. They even bent over while wearing said leggings. Those people almost ruined it for the rest of us.
Leggings can most certainly double as pants. (In fact, once you successfully learn how to wear them that way, you’ll hate traditional trousers with a justified passion.) The trick is simple: Make sure your leggings are made with a thick fabric that’s opaque, like a ponte knit — and wear a size that hugs your figure without cutting off your circulation.
Outdated Rule #4: You shouldn’t wear black with brown.
Some people swear up and down that you should never wear black with brown… or black with navy for that matter. These people are what we call wrong. Black, navy, and brown are all essential neutrals that go together with ease. In fact, pairing a navy blouse with black jeans or accessorizing your LBD with a brown belt can elevate classic pieces and maximize your styling possibilities.
Outdated Rule #5: Never mix your metals.
Almost everyone prefers a certain metallic hue, whether it’s sterling silver, gunmetal, yellow gold, or today’s ever-so-popular rose gold. But nothing says that you’re limited to wearing your chosen favorite all day — every day — for life. Feel free to layer on different metallic finishes as you please. Just do so strategically so that it looks intentional and not sloppy.
Outdated Rule #6: Midi lengths are so unflattering.
For the longest time, style gurus insisted that a woman should never (ever) wear a skirt that hit anywhere other than the knee. That got old pretty fast. The midi skirt is actually a brilliant alternative to traditional pencil skirts, because it gives you coverage, comfort, and a multi-seasonal length that works for all heights and builds.
Outdated Rule #7: You have to suffer for fashion.
Finally… the greatest style deception of all time. “Strut around in high heels,” they said. “Bodycon dresses will be fun,” they said. Liars. All of them.
You don’t have to suffer in order to dress well. In fact, I would argue that if you’re suffering, you’re doing it wrong. Figure out what styles, sizes, and silhouettes look good and feel good on your body, and then build your wardrobe accordingly.
Which of these fashion rules do you most look forward to breaking, and which ones do you already ignore? Sound off in the comments!
Images courtesy of What Jess Wore.