12 Fashion Rules You Should Totally Break

You’ve heard them from your mother, she heard them from her mother. Fashion rules tend to be passed down from generation to generation.

And while some totally hold true (like no socks with sandals!), many of those classic “rules” have been deemed bogus.

Here are 12 fashion rules that you can go ahead and break — including tips on how to pull off the unconventional looks. And the best part is that these looks can be replicated at any price point — these are just some good examples to illustrate the rule rebellion:

  • Fashion Rules, Fashion Shmules 1 of 47

    You know the rules. Now here's why you should ignore them...

  • Stripes and Plaids? YIKES! 2 of 47

    A classic fashion rule that you can definitely break — if you know how to do it right...

  • Mixing Patterns: Look 1 3 of 47

    Stripes have become the new neutral, making them super easy to add to a pattern mash-up.

    Buy J.Crew Striped Sleeveless Top, $68/Hawaiian Sunset Linen Shorts, $69.50

  • Mixing Patterns: Look 2 4 of 47

    Finding a commonality in styles helps, too.

    From the J.Crew Collection Lookbook


  • Mixing Patterns: Look 3 5 of 47

     But one of the easiest ways to mix patterns is to pull out a common color scheme.

    Buy Madewell Linen Tank, $42


  • Black and Navy Blue Clash! 6 of 47

    Black and navy blue are very similar colors, so we were told it's bad to clash them together. And yet all of a sudden celebs started pairing the two colors and it was so...chic.

  • Navy and Black: Look 1 7 of 47

    While once a fashion no-no, the navy/black combo has been a chic fashion DO for a few years now.

    Buy Kate Young for Target, $59.99


  • Navy and Black: Look 2 8 of 47

    The shiny black leather against the navy fabric adds a sophisticated touch.

    Buy Yaisa w/ Leather Sleeves, $370


  • Navy and Black: Look 3 9 of 47

    Dip your toe in the navy/black combo by adding black accessories — like shoes, tights, and/or a clutch — to a navy blue dress.

    Buy ASOS Maternity Pencil Dress, $67


  • Black and Brown Clash! 10 of 47

    Another traditional rule that you can throw away. Far, far away.

  • Black and Brown: Look 1 11 of 47

    The important thing about mixing colors like black and brown is to make it purposeful. An easy way to do that is with accessories — like a belt and shoes. The black dress/brown belt combo is an effortless way to break that rule.

    Buy Madewell Tailored Silk Dress, $155

  • Black and Brown: Look 2 12 of 47

    Investing in a black-and-brown shoe adds a versatility that you'll appreciate.

    Buy Madewell's The Bazaar mini wedge, $158


  • Black and Brown: Look 3 13 of 47

    A good pair of black tights is another way to tie a black-and-brown outfit together.

    Buy Madewell Opaque Tights, $9.99


  • Red and Pink Clash! 14 of 47

    My mom tells a story about how when we were toddlers, my dad would dress my sister and I in totally mismatched outfits — like pink and red — and think it looked good. And she'd laugh.

    To which I reply, he was just ahead of his time Ma.

  • Red and Pink: Look 1 15 of 47

    It's called colorblocking, folks.

    Buy Jenni Kayne Shawl Blazer, $500


  • Red and Pink: Look 2 16 of 47

    And the pink-and-red combo is suddenly stylish.

    Buy ASOS Sizzle Suede Heels, $56


  • Red and Pink: Look 3 17 of 47

    Why wouldn't it be?

    Buy ASOS Stripe Skater Dress with Pleated Skirt, $28.85


  • No Glitter During the Day! 18 of 47

    My response: NO WAY. Live a little!

  • Daytime Glitter: Look 1 19 of 47

    Pair it with jeans, a blazer, or a date-night skirt. All works.

    Buy Old Navy Ombre Sequined Tanks, $19.94


  • Daytime Glitter: Look 2 20 of 47

    To the beach! Sequins at the beach! Why the heck not?

    Buy GAP sequin stripe tote, $50


  • Daytime Glitter: Look 3 21 of 47

    Glittery shoes add a little glam — day or night.

    Buy Madewell Teddy Loafer in Glitter, $125


  • Denim on Denim? What is this, 1982? 22 of 47

    Like all good 80s trends, this one has been remade for the modern woman.

  • Denim on Denim: Look 1 23 of 47

    If you're into the denim-on-denim look but resisted because of "rules," take heart knowing that it's so very much in style right now. If you're still not sure, add a buffer layer.

    Buy J.Crew Maritime Blazer, $98


  • Denim on Denim: Look 2 24 of 47

    Try mixing different shades of denim for a more modern look.

    Buy Madewell Western Jean Shirt in Desert Willow Wash, $88


  • Denim on Denim: Look 3 25 of 47

    The chambray trend is another way to try the denim-on-denim look.

    Buy Madewell Dotted Chambray Boyshirt, $72


  • Gold OR Silver, Never Both 26 of 47

    I scoff at the idea. SCOFF!

  • Mixed Metals: Look 1 27 of 47

    This is one rule you can seriously let slide. The trick is to fully mix them — not gold on one hand, silver on the other.

    Buy Stella & Dot Stackable Band Rings, $39


  • Mixed Metals: Look 2 28 of 47

    You can even find mixed metals in single pieces of jewelry because THIS IS NOT A RULE ANYMORE.

    Buy Gold and Pink Quartz Necklace, $44


  • Mixed Metals: Look 3 29 of 47

    Try mixing metals beyond silver and gold — like copper and brass.

    Buy Chevron Mixed Metals, $45



    Is anyone still obeying this? No, right?

  • Winter White: Look 1 31 of 47

    You could totally wear this outfit in the Fall, right? "Winter Whites" are back, kids.

    Buy J.Crew Collection Café Capri, $248


  • Winter White: Look 2 32 of 47

    Which means a pair of (affordable) white pants can be a year-long wardrobe staple.

    Buy Old Navy The Sweetheart Boot-Cut Jeans, $29.50


  • Winter White: Look 3 33 of 47

    And a nice white blazer sees no seasonal boundary lines. #truth

    Buy Madewell Tailored Blazer, $89.99


  • Horizontal Stripes Make You Look Wider 34 of 47

    Considering stripes are the new black, I call BULL.

  • Stripes: Look 1 35 of 47

    Myth, myth, myth. Thin stripes can look flattering on any size.

    Buy ModCloth Lollipop Culture Dress in Plus Size, $44.99


  • Stripes: Look 2 36 of 47

    You can also use stripes to accentuate a part of your body — like draw attention to the top and away from the bottom.

    Buy ASOS Curve Exclusive Skater Dress in Stripe, $59.40


  • Clutches are for Elegant Evening Wear 37 of 47

    Says who?

  • Daytime Clutch: Look 1 38 of 47

    Who says clutches are just for fancy dresses? It's the perfect delicate accessory for your summer wardrobe. So much that it's become a wardrobe staple.

    Buy Madewell Long Tankdress, $110


  • Daytime Clutch: Look 2 39 of 47

    You can even pair an oversized clutch with a summery dress.

    Buy Madewell Afternoon Dress, $98


  • Match your Shoes to your Belt/Bag 40 of 47

    It's still an easy way to tie an outfit together, but it's certainly not the only way. Look what happens when you break that rule...

  • Mismatched Shoes and Belt: Look 1 41 of 47

    Your shoes are such an easy way to add a fun pop of color to your outfit — but you definitely don't need your belt to match.

    Buy Madewell Rivet & Thread Cropped Jeans, $199.99


  • Mismatched Shoes and Belt: Look 2 42 of 47

    There's no "fashion rule" as to why this outfit should work, but it does.

    Buy Madewell Garden Vine Sundress, $125


  • Mismatched Shoes and Belt: Look 3 43 of 47

    If you're having a hard time mismatching your belt and shoes, pull out a color from patterned shoes. That way you'll coordinate without being matchy matchy.

    Buy Madewell Beaded Yoke Dress, $210


  • Too Much of One Color Can Clash 44 of 47

    Yet there are ways to make this work...

  • One Color: Look 1 45 of 47

    Black on black on black. Throwing in a different pattern or texture always works.

    Buy J Brand 811 Mid-Rise Jeans with Black Brocade Print, $305


  • New Item 46 46 of 47

    White on white on white. Avoid the "uniform" look by throwing on a fun hat.

    Buy J.Crew White Denim Mini, $79.50


  • One Color: Look 3 47 of 47

    Basically the whole concept of "clashing" is harder to define — as evidenced by the blue on blue.

    Buy J.Crew Garment-Dyed Summerweight Linen Sweater, $69.50


Which outdated fashion rules did I miss?

Article Posted 2 years Ago
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