Fashion without rules

November 20, 2013


Once upon a time, fashion was all about following the rules. No white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Navy shoes must accompany navy pants or a navy skirt. Black and brown should not be mixed. Your shoes much match your belt must match your purse. Clothing must be of the appropriate dress level for the occasion, the environment and for your age. And on and on and on…

Nowadays, fashion is all about breaking those rules. Or, more specifically, about celebrating the fact that there are no rules. White denim appears as soon as the April showers lift and lingers well into sunny September. Nude is the new navy. Shoes and belts and bags coordinate but never copy. Casual items like t-shirts and baseball hats are paired with more formal items like pencil skirts, heels and blazers. Masculine and feminine intermingle. High fashion mixes with low fashion. And multiple patterns and textures come together in one outfit to pack a sartorial punch.

For those of you that find this reality panic-inducing rather than liberating, here are some tips on how to navigate the world of fashion without rules to lean on…

The only time that you “can’t” wear something is if it’s not functional.

For example, linen should only be worn in the spring and summer, but not because of some fashion rule. It simply won’t keep you warm enough in the fall and winter!

Rather than obsessing over individual elements and whether or not they are appropriate, worry about the overall mood of the outfit.

Can I wear jeans/a t-shirt/a skirt instead of a dress to this or that function? Truly, in this day in age, you can wear almost anything, anywhere. Simply remember to elevate the casual elements in your look by counter-acting their casual-ness with a more formal piece if the occasion calls for it.

Seemingly contradictory pieces work well together when they have something in common.

For example, mix multiple patterns with aplomb by selecting those with a common color, theme and/or scale.

Manipulate the clothing to put your own touch on an outfit; dispelling disbelievers.

If you have taken the time to tuck your shirt, roll your sleeve, cuff your pants and layer your necklaces just so, it’s hard not to win over your audience. 

Accessories and hair and makeup are the punctuation to your fashion sentence.

Forget them and your message may still be comprehensible, but certainly not as impactful.

Now, go forth! And enjoy your fashion freedom!

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