Fashion has so many rules: You should never wear tights with open-toed shoes. How about you wear tights with those open-toed shoes? Never wear socks with sandals. It'd be so cute if you paired some colorful socks with those strappy sandals. Never wear a belt over your shirt -- that's so '80s. Wear a belt over your shirt -- the wider the belt, the better; it'll make you look thin.
It's enough to give even the most jaded fashionista whiplash!
Of course, rules were certainly made to be broken. And spring is here, so we're about to set you free. Which 10 myths about springtime fashion can you un-learn, once and for all?
No White Before Memorial Day
The "no white before Memorial Day and no white after Labor Day" rule is probably one of the most well-known and strictly followed fashion rules, but why? Historians disagree about the origins of this one. Some say it was a matter of keeping cool in the summer, and some say it was a way to distinguish the rich folks (in their vacation linens) from the working class.
Today, though, you don't have to be a bride to wear white before Memorial Day. Last spring, for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, First Lady Michelle Obama stepped out in white pants paired with a pink cardigan. If Mrs. Obama -- one of the most fashionable women of her generation -- can do it, then so can you!
Don't Wear Suede in Warm Weather
Generally we consider suede a cold-weather fabric. Suede coats and suede boots are popular in autumn and winter, when they were paired with skinny jeans, gloves and scarves. But there's no reason you can't pull out the suede in the spring.
Here's why: Springtime usually brings with it some varied weather. One day it might be warm and mild; the next it's blustery and cool. Suede is a perfect material for this changing weather. A light suede jacket keeps you comfortable when it's chilly but peels off easily if it gets warm. Pick a brightly-colored jacket with ruffles and you'll look seasonally appropriate and flirty!
And don't forget about suede accessories. Sandals, clutches and even wrist cuffs always work. Our only warning about suede is: Don't wear it head to toe. Just one piece at a time and you'll be good to go.
Don't Mix Patterns
Another fashion lesson we're learning to ignore is "Don't mix patterns." Well, why the heck not? If you want to stand out, mixing dots and stripes, or plaids and paisleys is the way to go. A word of warning, though: It's very easy to mix patterns and wind up looking like, well, a clown.
Here's the secret to mixing up prints without ending up in a side show. No matter how many patterns you wear, keep them in the same color family. When your pieces are all in the same hue range, your look will be cohesive and pulled together, even though the patterns might be all over the place.
Don't Mix Bright Colors
People are wary of mixing bright colors because they think they'll clash. But lately, colorful outfits decorate the runways, adding a sense of whimsical fun. We have two key pieces of advice on mixing bright colors: Don't wear too many colors at once, and balance them out with neutral accessories. Or, conversely, wear neutral clothes and a bunch of eye-popping color accessories, like shoes, clutches or chunky necklaces.
We've found the best bright colors to wear together are jewel tones. Try combining things like hot pink and purple, or yellow and turquoise, or royal blue and emerald green. If you want to experiment with mixing bright colors, but aren't quite ready to pull together an entire candy-colored outfit, try makeup. Mix up some hot pink lipstick with purple eyeshadow. Have fun with it!
Short Women Can't Wear Long Dresses
Maxi dresses are popular again this spring and summer, which is good because they're comfortable, flowing, and they cover a multitude of sins while still looking feminine and pretty. But many fashion experts advise petite women to avoid the maxi dress because it overwhelms a small woman's frame.
However, just open up any magazine and you'll see someone like Nicole Richie, who is very petite, rocking the maxi dress without a problem. Richie goes for boho patterns, nothing too bold or stripey, and makes sure her dresses are a light fabric like cotton or silk. If you're short and really worried about wearing a maxi dress, try slipping on a pair of platform wedges to give you some height.
You Have to Wear Pantyhose at the Office
Pantyhose are the enemy of most working women. They cut off circulation, roll down, and in the worst case scenario, provide a place for you to accidentally tuck in your skirt. Your take on whether pantyhose are required at the office probably boils down to your how old you are. Older women tend to feel that pantyhose are necessary. Younger women are comfortable going bare-legged.
So who's right? If the dress code at your office is formal, pantyhose, or a nice pair of black tights in the winter, are advisable. If your office is more casual, you can probably get away with going bare-legged with a nice pair of pumps or flats, as long as you wear a conservative length skirt. If you're worried about your legs being pale, try some of the new tinted moisturizers. They won't leave your legs streaked like a self-tanner, but will add some subtle color and even out tone.
Floral Patterns Are for Grandma
Many women are afraid to wear bold floral patterns for fear of looking like Grandma's couch or some unfortunate wallpaper. However, florals have come a long way. They don't have to be big, bold and overwhelming. You can find subtle flowery prints. Or keep it simple with a cardigan decorated with small rosettes. Or go for a bright, flowery sundress.
Fashion experts tell us that floral prints and bold colors tend to be popular during hard economic times. They give us a mental boost, especially needed after a long, hard winter. If you're ready to try out some florals, keep your body type in mind. Smaller women can get lost in a very bold print. Larger women can usually pull off a bigger print, but might want to pair it with a solid jacket. If you're top- or bottom-heavy, go for more delicate prints.
You Can't Wear Boots in Spring
Boots typically are a winter accessory. They're warm, they protect your feet and legs from the elements, and they look fabulous with a skirt and tights. Most of us love our boots so much, we don't want to say goodbye to them once the snow starts melting. The good news is you really don't have to.
We do advise against wearing really wintry boots once winter is over. You should put away anything fur- or fleece-trimmed. Sweaty feet just aren't sexy. But go right ahead and wear your other boots in the spring -- maybe bare-legged with a fun sundress. Many designers are pairing ankle boots with shorter skirts this spring. And lastly, don't forget that wellies are always adorable and in style on rainy spring days.
Layering Is for Fall and Winter
During the chillier months, it makes sense to wear layers -- scarves, long-sleeved shirts with cardigans on top, even long underwear, for those of us stuck in blizzard territory. It's all about keeping warm. But spring is also a great time to wear layers.
Spring is an odd, in-between time for your wardrobe. It's still a bit too cold to bring out the summer clothes, and a bit warm to wear only winter clothes. Our solution? Mix and match and layer it up. Grab your favorite sleeveless sundress and pair it with a cardigan and some kicky boots. You can also wear tees under an oversized tank top. Or throw a blazer over a spring dress. Be creative. Layering is a great way to achieve this season's boho look.
Only the Holidays Call for Sparkle
You see a lot of sequins and sparkle during the winter holiday season. It's completely appropriate for festive holiday occasions. But you don't have to put that glitter away just because winter is over. In fact, not only can you wear sequins in the spring, but you can even wear them during the day. Remember, today's fashion rule is that there are no rules.
Here's how to wear sequins during warm weather: Pick one sequin piece (don't wear sequins all over) -- maybe a cute sequined blazer paired with jeans, or a sheath dress emblazoned with sequins. Don't wear multi-colored sequins, though, unless you're going to an '80s party.
If you still think that sequins are for parties and nighttime only, try accessories. Sequined ballet flats are super cute and pair great with nice jeans. Or, carry a glam sequined clutch. Enjoy the glitz!
For more on fashion and style, check out the links on the next page.
HowStuffWorks looks at the roots of corduroy fabric, how to care for it and how it has evolved.
- "8 Fashion Myths -- Busted!" ShoppingLifestyle.com. 2011. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://www.shoppinglifestyle.com/beauty/slideshow/8-fashion-myths/997/
- "11 Tips on Wearing Boots." Harper's Bazaar. Jan. 20, 2010. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/fashion-articles/how-to-wear-boots-0210
- Binkley, Christina. "Bare-Legged Ladies: Hosiery Reveals Office Divide." Wall Street Journal. Jun. 5, 2008. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB121262443191346927-lMyQjAxMDI4MTAyNTYwMjU0Wj.html
- "Fashion Challenge: Wear Multiple Bright Colors Together." College Fashion. 2011. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://www.collegefashion.net/fashion-tips/fashion-challenge-wear-multiple-bright-colors-together/
- "Fashion Tips for Wearing Sequins." AOL Shopping. Jan. 26, 2011. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://shopping.aol.com/articles/2011/01/26/fashion-tips-for-wearing-sequins/
- Fitzpatrick, Laura. "Why We Can't Wear White After Labor Day." Time. Sep, 8, 2009. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1920684,00.html
- Kennedy, Lesley. "How to Wear Floral Prints." Stylelist. Apr. 19, 2010. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://www.stylelist.com/2010/04/19/how-to-wear-floral-prints/
- "Michelle O. wears white before Memorial Day. Will you?" Shop Girl. Apr. 6, 2010. (Feb. 12. 2011) http://blogs.chron.com/shopgirl/archives/2010/04/post_44.html
- "Nine Fashion Myths Debunked!" Shine. May 11, 2009. (Feb. 12, 2011) http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/beauty/nine-fashion-myths-debunked-459657