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Nine Fashion Rules That Are Out of Style

My mother has given me some great (and critical) fashion wisdom over the years—don’t mix denims, wear what feels comfortable (note: this does not mean wearing pajamas in public), dress for the season (i.e., no flip-flops when it’s snowing), and never let your underwear peep through your clothes. 

Oh, and always wear underwear. 

With styles like high-waisted skirts, spandex pants, and adult onesies making a comeback, it’s hard to keep track of what’s hot and what’s not. These rules are seemingly timeless and I’ve continued to follow most of them as an adult (unless I’ve skipped laundry day and must go commando). However, there are some other fashion regulations my mother taught me that today are as antiquated as VCRs and phone books. Though once biblically crucial, these fashion “don’ts” are in desperate need of an upgrade—or complete elimination. 

1. Just Say No to White
There are so many rules about when you can and can’t wear white—at a wedding, after Labor Day, before Memorial Day, on the left-hand side of the street on a cloudy day if your bra is purple—that it’s hard to decide which to follow. White complements my dark features quite well and is one of my favorite colors to wear, so I reject any rule that limits the amount of time I can slip on a clean white t-shirt to only a few months out of the year. 

These days, it seems acceptable to wear white all year round. Winter-white bags and coats can be striking additions to cold-weather ensembles. Make sure the material you wear is season-appropriate—avoid wearing white linen pants and white shoes in winter—and you’ll be just fine. 

There is one white exception, though. I was recently at a wedding where the bride’s best friend wore a white cocktail dress. From Granny to Cousin Maria, everyone was berating her poor sartorial decision. Pretty much all etiquette experts agree that white at a wedding is a major faux pas. As long as you’re not competing with the bride, a splash of white won’t cause a scene—a long white gown will. 

2. Match Your Purse to Your Shoes
Boring! There are so many gorgeous colors and patterns out there that complement each other beautifully; why go monochrome? Matching too much is just as bad?if not worse ?than not matching at all. If you ask me, this rule was created as a way to keep women spending all their money on tons of matching bags and shoes and it just ends up making us look dated. We know now that just one great piece can be enough to accessorize an entire wardrobe. 

3. Black + Brown or Black + Navy = Fashion Death
Again, this rule ignores a whole world of interesting and appealing color and texture combinations. All three of these are neutrals, so they pretty much go with anything. As with any outfit decision, use personal discretion and creativity. 

4. Redheads Shouldn’t Wear Red
Some redheads should avoid some shades of red that clash with their natural colorings. But just think of Jessica Rabbit or Julianne Moore in red lipstick and a red dress—red hot. They both look so sizzling, they’re practically on fire. I would replace this negative rule with a positive—if you’ve got something that sets you apart, work it! 

5. No Suede or Leather in Summer
If you find it comfortable, there’s no reason not to wear some light-hued leather sandals or carry a pale leather tote in the summer months. You can even don a lightweight leather or suede jacket when the nights turn chilly. You don’t want to be walking around like Mick Jagger in black leather pants that stick to your skin, but I think most of us have enough common sense to figure that out for ourselves without this rule. 

6. Never Mix Metals
Different people have their own tastes when it comes to wearing metal jewelry. Those with olive skin tones like the warmth of yellow gold, while others prefer the coolness of white gold or silver. But there’s no reason not to blend them, and doing so can actually create a lovely layered effect. Play around with your bangles and necklaces and find a style that fits your personality and coloring. 

7. Be In-the-Know of What’s Hot and What’s Not
Fashion magazines and seasonal “looks” can give us all some new ideas about how to put together an outfit, but most of us know pretty well how to dress for our body types and personalities already. Sticking to a few solid staples that fit well and that you enjoy wearing will keep you feeling confident and attractive without buying an entirely new wardrobe twice a year. After all, no one’s actually noticing your clothes; they’re more interested in how great you look in them. 

8. Stay on Your Side of the Store
Some of my favorite fashion pieces have come from the men’s department. The plain wife-beater, the over-sized shirt that hugs my thighs, the fedora, and many more great finds require you to step outside women’s wear. Raid your boyfriend’s closet regularly to see if there’s anything cool in there and take a lesson from the guys—there is nothing sexier than a woman wearing a man’s shirt (especially if you’re the man!). 

9. Look Ma, No Tights!
My mother always used to insist that I wear tights with a skirt, no matter how hot it was outside or how uncomfortable I was. I almost never wear them now, as I am convinced that the face I make when there is sweat pooling on the insides of my thighs is not an attractive one. Okay, if you’re wearing a short skirt, put on some panties (and I don’t mean a g-string) and keep your knees together. But as long as you’re not giving anyone a free peep show, there’s no harm in letting your skin breathe a little. 

Dressing well really isn’t all that hard, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. All you need is a sense of style and the confidence to wear it. Truth be told, when it comes to personal style, there are no hard and fast dos and don’ts. Throw out any conventions that hinder you from being comfortable with your look; the only true fashion “do” is to be totally yourself—and being yourself with a little extra style never hurt.

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