5 Popular Fashion Rules (and How to Break Them)

When it comes to dressing well, there are some style rules that you simply don’t mess with.
Portrait of stylish young woman taking selfie photo via smartphone posing in new clothes

However, some of these guidelines are products of their time, which means they may no longer apply in this day and age. In this guide, we’re going to discuss a few of the most old-school and prevalent beliefs in the world of fashion, as well as how to go against them:

Fashion Myth No. 1: Leggings Are Only for Wearing at the Gym  

The debate about whether leggings should be considered pants or not is still very much alive and well. Some people even believe that leggings are technically activewear, and thus shouldn’t be worn outside the gym at all. 

The thing is, that simply isn’t true. One only need look at how the demand for denim leggings rose in the 2010s after the resurgence of skinny jeans. To this day, fans of that skintight, spray-on style continue to enjoy their favorite leggings thanks to the athleisure fad that’s taken the world by storm. 

If you want to buy a pair of denim leggings to wear out whenever you want to, no one can stop you. That said, you’ll still want to stick to a few tried-and-tested fashion rules to ensure you look your best. 

For instance, you’ll want to pair your leggings with a loose or flowy top that’s long enough to cover your crotch and butt area. This will help keep the dreaded visible panty line from showing. It’s also important to keep your proportions in mind and to balance the outfit as needed to achieve aesthetic symmetry.

Fashion Myth No. 2: Your Bag, Shoes, and Belt All Need to Match

Back in the early 1960s, an easy way to look more polished and put-together was to coordinate the colors of your outfit. Generally, dressing from head-to-toe in a single color was the norm.

Though the practice was so prevalent that it lasted for several decades, most stylists agree that it can make you appear outdated and old-fashioned these days. As a result, modern ways of dressing note that your accessories need not be in the same color to complement your outfit. Otherwise, your accessories may end up blending in with the rest of your clothes.

To this end, a smart use of contrast and having an eye for color can help your accessories stand out without being overpowering. If your outfit is mostly comprised of bold prints, go for accessories with muted solids and vice versa. You can also try wearing complementary colors to maintain visual appeal. 

Fashion Myth No. 3: Don’t Wear White After Labor Day

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when this supposed style rule came into effect, or who to attribute it to. But what we do know for sure is that wearing white clothes on hot summer days is an excellent choice. This is because light-colored clothes absorb less light energy and therefore trap less heat, which can help keep you cool.

But insisting that light-colored clothing should only be worn during warmer months seems utterly arbitrary. In the twenty-first century, a woman can wear white whenever she pleases. After all, it’s a neutral color that goes with everything and complements all skin types.

Fashion Myth No. 4: Don’t Wear Horizontal Stripes; They Make You Look Larger

The idea that horizontal stripes make people look bigger is such an enduring fashion cliché that it has put off entire generations from wearing them altogether. This is because of the prevalent belief that the lines tend to lead the eye across the body, thus giving a wider appearance when worn. However, a 2011 study shows that horizontal stripes can actually have a slimming effect due to a phenomenon called the Helmholtz illusion. 

Given this, it’s clear that horizontal stripes can actually complement your figure if worn well. For instance, wide stripes look great on petite figures with rectangular-shaped bodies, while thin, tight stripes are best for curvier, full-bodied women. If you want to play it safe, you can also try half-color-blocked, half-striped garments.

Fashion Myth No. 5: Be Prepared to Spend Money if You Want to Be Fashionable

There’s a surprising number of people who believe that good style is only for people who can afford it. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, how much you spend on fashion has little to no impact on how well you wear it. 

While you should invest in quality staple pieces, you don’t have to chase trends or refresh your wardrobe every season. With a bit of resourcefulness and creativity, it’s completely possible to look chic while sticking to a strict budget.

These days, fashion is less about following rules and more about expressing yourself through what you wear. So don’t let these old-fashioned myths dictate your style. As long as you know what you’re doing, you can stray from these guidelines and still pull off amazing outfits.

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