For an industry that prides itself on creativity, fads and the tendency to push the sartorial envelope, fashion sure has a lot of rules, doesn't it?
You probably know a lot of these rules, and maybe you've even passed on an outfit because you once heard that stripes can make you look heavy. A lot of these rules have been around for decades, but are the same rules that were valid 20 ago completely off the mark today? Just pay attention to the runway at any fashion show and you're bound to see standard fashion advice thrown to the wayside.
So can you wear white after Labor Day? Is it OK for tall women to wear high heels? We're digging up the truth on 10 fashion dos-and don'ts.
10: Never Wear Black with Blue
While it's sometimes hard to distinguish some hues of navy from black, trying to pass them off as matching can big a big mistake. If you have a black suit jacket and can't find the matching slacks, substituting navy ones isn't a good idea. Black and blue can work for informal outfits, but not with more formal ensembles, like suits, that are meant to communicate a cohesive look.
Black and blue often get a bad rap because they can be so close in shade that it's sometimes difficult to tell them apart, not to mention that wearing a black shirt with navy pants can come off looking a little drab. Here are a few tips for the right way to pair these two colors:
Accessorize: Say you're wearing skinny denim jeans and a black sweater. Adding red heels and red lipstick is an easy way to make the black-and-blue look a chic one.
Contrast: When you're wearing navy with black, you should try to play up the differences in tone. Wearing a white shirt under a navy blazer with a black skirt will help delineate the hues, making your outfit look intentional instead of accidental.
Brighten Up: Opt for brighter and bolder blues like cobalt or sky blue if you plan to pair them with black. The brighter hue will keep your outfit from looking washed out.
9: You Can't Wear Gold and Silver Together
As we all know, there are two primary metallic colors in the world of jewelry -- gold and silver. But if you have a gold wedding band, are you doomed to never wear a silver piece of jewelry again? That's absurd!
Go to any jewelry store today and you'll see lots of beautiful pieces that use the silver-gold combination. And if you're putting the look together on your own, the key is picking the right pieces and committing to the look (wear more than one of each to make it look intentional). Scale is important, too. If you're layering necklaces, make sure the chains are around the same size or theme. Try mixing gold and silver bangles together for a fun take on a formerly taboo combo.
8: Horizontal Stripes Will Make You Look Heavy
According to Michel Pastoureau's "The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes," stripes have a dark past. They were often worn by the wicked -- the disloyal, the treacherous and the adulterous. So it's no surprise that it's the uniform of choice for the incarcerated.
We've all heard this one. The myth here is that horizontal stripes draw the eye across the body, making you appear wider, and vertical stripes draw the eye up and down the body, making you appear longer and leaner.
Believe it or not, a study done by a perception expert at the University of New York found that people don't perceive others wearing horizontal stripes as heavier -- they actually perceive them as thinner!
Like any pattern, though, stripes will draw attention to the area where they're worn. You can minimize that effect by reducing the area with stripes -- like wearing a blazer or a cardigan over a striped top.
7: Tall Women Shouldn't Wear High Heels
Heels aren't just about making you look taller -- they make your legs look great, they add a little strut to your walk, and they class up just about any outfit. And with the wealth of great shoes in the world today, why limit your options just because you're a tall drink of water? Plenty of tall women shun flats in favor of a great heel, and they shouldn't. Sometimes the vertically gifted will compensate for the added height by stooping over a bit. Is that you? If so, remember not to slouch. If you don't have a problem with your height, then nobody else will!
6: Never Mix and Match Prints
Color coordinate your mixed prints to give your funky look that put-together feel. Choose one dominant print, such as one large print and one small print. This keeps the outfit from looking too chaotic and gives the eye a focal point. Stick to simple accessories to keep the outfit from becoming visually overwhelming.
Vintage clothing has made a huge comeback, and as a result you'll see a lot of people mixing prints and patterns. Stripes can be seen with paisleys; argyles can be seen with plaids -- it seems there are no taboos when it comes to mixing and matching prints. Think of it as an intentional unintentional look -- it looks haphazard, in a fashionable sort of way.
If you need proof that mixing patterns can be pulled off, then look no further than Clinton Kelly from "What Not to Wear," who often can be seen with different patterns on his shirt, tie, vest and jacket, all at the same time.
5: Sequins and Sparkle are for Eveningwear Only
Most people worry that wearing sparkle during the daytime may look like they never made it home the night before. And to be honest, it could seem that way if you were to overdo it - say, wearing a sequined mini-dress to a board meeting. Trust us: Wearing a blazer over a sequined dress will not tone it down. But there are some easy ways you can pull off the glitz in the daytime.
For work, take it down a notch by putting a sparkly top under a cardigan or jacket. You can also choose tops with just a sprinkle of beads at the neckline. When you're not at work, you have a little more leeway. Try pairing a full-on beaded top with jeans or pants, which help make the look a little more casual. The same goes for a sequined skirt when you're off the clock. You can pair the skirt with a structured tank top for an effortless look.
4: Short Women Should Never Wear Long Dresses
Check out What Not to Wear's tips on how lengthen your torso.
This myth is based on the idea that showing some leg -- usually with a mini-dress or mini-skirt -- helps to visually elongate your body. But that doesn't mean that those on the short side need to forego long dresses. Long dresses, tea-length dresses -- not to mention pencil skirts that reach down below the knees -- can be a sophisticated look you won't want to pass up because of your height.
Consider pairing a long dress with some wedge sandals to give you a few extra inches, or pulling your hair up to make your neck look longer. You should also select long dresses that help to lengthen the eye through fit and color. That means you'll want to steer clear from a long dress with a large pattern that could overwhelm a smaller frame and go for a solid or small print dress instead. You should also look for a dress that plays up a long leg-to-waist proportion instead of a dress that has any funky banding above or below the waist, which can visually cut your body line in half. But most importantly, stand up straight!
3: Never Wear More than One Bold Color
Bold and bright colors make a statement, but can using more than one bold color in your outfit be too much? Not necessarily. Like mixing patterns and prints, mixing bold colors can be helped along with a little planning. Consider visually breaking up the standout shades with other muted hues -- for instance, a bold top and a bright pair of shoes won't look so jarring if you wear a neutral skirt to break up the color fields.
If you're still a little reluctant, try bringing in bold shades with brightly colored accessories, like a yellow necklace, a green purse, or bright red shoes. It's a great way to add color without feeling overwhelmed by it.
2: Always Match Your Shoes With Your Belt, or Your Purse...
There is one exception to this matching myth, and that's formal attire. Matching your shoes with your belt or purse can give you a more polished look if you're dressing for a classy occasion (though it's not required!).
This myth has pretty much gone by the wayside and really nobody bothers to adhere to it anymore. The fact is that there are just too many cute shoes out there to worry about finding a matching belt (or purse) to go with each. Shoes, belts and purses can be statement pieces in an outfit, and it could look a bit garish if you tried to match all of your accessories to a boldly colored pair of heels. And, most importantly, you wouldn't want to forego buying that amazing pair of shoes just because there isn't a belt to match.
The trick is to find hues in the same color family. So if you have a magenta-colored purse and a print dress with a tiny bit of red or pink in it, red shoes that have a touch of pink in them may be the perfect compliment. Trying putting a few colors together and see what combinations work best together. For instance, putting yellow and green together may not be the best color match, but it all depends how light or dark the shade is and the outfit you're pairing it with. The general rule is to make sure you don't come off too colorful, like a parrot in heels.
1: Never Wear White After Labor Day
This may be one of the most famous fashion myths of all time. An extension of this rule states that you shouldn't wear white before Memorial Day either. But why limit your color spectrum just because it's cold outside? You'll often find coats, sweaters and pants in "winter white," which is perfectly acceptable to wear.
Like most of these myths, this is another one whose relevance has faded over time. The reason it still rings true in some people's minds is that we tend to associate lightweight fabrics with light colors, and while the color white is perfectly acceptable in the winter, light fabrics, like linen, are not weather appropriate in many places from Labor Day to Memorial Day.