Katharine Hepburn. Diana Ross. Madonna. These beautiful and stylish women all have something in common. They're serious style rebels who built their signature looks by breaking fashion rules. If your personal fashion sense is stuck in a rut, it may be time to reexamine some of your beliefs about what not to wear.
Clothing can play a major role in shaping our mood and confidence, according to University of Queensland researchers. Ultimately, the clothes you should buy and wear are the ones that make you feel beautiful. If that means saying goodbye to some of yesterday's fashion rules, go for it. Join me as I count down outdated fashion laws you can ditch on the road to a flawless sense of style.
1. Sequins are for nighttime.
Even if you work in a dressy office, your sparkliest sequined cocktail dress may need to wait for happy hour. However, virtually everyone can work little bits of sparkle into her wardrobe. A sequined headband or a blazer atop a sparkling tank top can look perfect paired together any time of day.
2. Avoid white in the winter.
Whoever declared you couldn't wear white after Labor Day was asking for her fashion rule to be broken. Seriously. As Elle points out, white has made a major reappearance on the haute couture runways in recent seasons. A well-fitting pair of white denim jeans is a fresh wardrobe staple that can enhance your outfits year-round. If you dare to wear a white dress to holiday parties and events this season, you'll be sure to stand out—in a good way—in a sea of little black dresses.
3. No socks and sandals
Socks and sandals aren't just for tourists. For the past several years, some of the chicest designers and fashionistas have been pairing tights with open-toed shoes. While we're not necessarily advising you to pair knee-high white socks with athletic sandals (unless that's your thing), it's very possible to make this look work.
Delicate, lacy socks paired with high-heeled sandals? Adorable. Brightly colored socks underneath your favorite summer shoes? Sounds good. The socks-and-sandals combo isn't the easiest look to pull off, but it's certainly within reach if you wear it with confidence.
4. Don't pair black and navy.
Black and navy can look remarkably chic together, and so can black and brown. Contrast weights and textures to add the most dimension to your look, such as pairing a delicate, satin navy top with heavy, black leather pants. For another option, let the similarity of the shades run together a little. As Cosmopolitan.com's style editor Charles Manning points out, a little "color confusion" never killed anyone.
5. Bare bellies are for flat stomachs only
Earlier this year, a women's publication wrote that women should wear crop tops "if (and only if!) you have a flat stomach." As you can imagine, women worldwide revolted against this body-shaming advice and took to Instagram to show off bellies of all shapes and sizes with the hashtag #RockTheCrop. Ultimately, you're the only one that can decide how much—or how little—belly you show off. If a crop top or a bikini makes you feel beautiful, go for it.
6. Don't mix prints.
A houndstooth print and polka dots or plaids and stripes can look adorable together. When it comes to pairing prints, the only limit on your creativity is your confidence. If you're a little shy about breaking this fashion rule, start conservatively by mixing a simpler print with a more complex one. Using different prints with similar color schemes is another sharp way to look amazing while kicking this fashion standard to the curb.
7. Avoid horizontal stripes.
Researchers have established that due to the "Helmholtz phenomenon," stripes can actually have a slimming visual affect. Regardless, you should never let anyone else's ideas about what's "flattering" dictate your fashion journey. If stripes make you feel like a star, you go, girl. Besides, a delicate striped shirt, ballet flats, and black skinny jeans are the perfect combination for a put-together look.
8. Always match your shoes to your bag.
Sometimes you may feel like matching your shoes and your bag perfectly. However, if your purple suede boots and your black bag are calling your name, you should absolutely feel free to break this rule. Even in the most conservative corporate environments, there's absolutely nothing wrong with pairing black shoes and a camel bag, or dark shoes with a gray bag.
9. Say no to double denim.
Wearing a denim shirt, denim jeans, and a denim jacket in perfectly matched hues could make you look like a minimalist, but pairing a chambray shirt with dark-wash jeans is super-chic. You should absolutely break this rule year-round.
10. Don't wear black in the summer.
If black makes you feel beautiful in November and June, that's A-OK. Despite your grandmother's fashion rules, I'm of the firm opinion that black can be the perfect color for the warmer months. Go for beautiful, goddess-inspired floating layers like black lace or chiffon, or stay cool in an ankle-length black maxi dress.
What are your least favorite style rules? Share the ones you always break in the comments!