Breaking fashion rules to make it right, dress out of the box and get some style…
For this week’s reprise in honor of the 15th anniversary year of FocusOnStyle.com online, and along with the very welcome return of spring, let’s take a look at some timeless style advice about breaking out of the mold from 2005.
From tights with sandals to matchy-matchy looks, here’s what you should be trying, no matter what they say! –S.H.
Top trends for most season’s compose of breaking historic fashion rules to move forward with fabulous style
Dear Sharon: My co-worker and I always go head-to-head about what to wear with what. She’s of the type who believes that there are certain fashion rules that must be followed to have proper dress etiquette and will not veer from what she learned as a girl, no matter what. I, on the other hand, think fashion rules are out-dated and have no idea where most originated, nor do I think anyone really cares. I think you should wear what looks right to you and forget about some oddball rule. Case in point, I wore green tights with my brown round-toe Mary Jane’s and brown tweed skirt and my co-worker had a canary. If it matters, she is ten years older than me. Who is right? –Ruling Out Fashion Rules (Pelham, AL)
Dear Ruling Out Fashion Rules: I’m with you, girl and so is fashion! It’s really not about ages although, dressing to conform to a rule book is pretty darn aging– it’s about style. It simply is not stylish, or interesting to be obsessed about some cookie-cutter fashion rule of what goes together from the middle of the last century. What is fresh is the way fashion bends the rules to create something new and exciting. Fashion is truly in a time of personal choice and individuality rather than being forced into rigid restrictions.
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However, while fashion rules, fashion etiquette, or fashion do’s and don’ts may be restrictive and dull, there is no exception for dressing appropriately for a particular occasion. Crazy colored tights definitely make a fashion statement and are in vogue, but in a corporate, rather uptight environment, something that funky may be pushing the fashion envelope a bit whereas more classic brown opaque tights would be a safer choice in that particular situation.
Yet, fashion is not about being safe. It’s about having fun with style. The hot trends for this season compose of breaking historic fashion rules to move forward with fabulous style. So, when in fashion, do as the fashionistas do, and forego dowdy formalities to keep your style unique, fresh, and captivating -
- Take these rules and leave ‘em:
- Don’t Wear Tights With Open-Toed Shoes- Yup, nude pantyhose worn with open sandals is a definite fashion no-no. Why? Because nylons faking to be invisible over your bare toes just looks creepy. While nude hose looks odd with sandals- trendy, obvious tights (bold colors, patterns, textures) look sassy when purposely paired with open toe shoes, particularly when offset by a sturdier platform or wedges – very Prada this season! Trendsetters, like you, intentionally defy stale pesky protocols to make very obvious fashion statements– like wearing brightly colored hose with open-toe shoes. However, if you are less than adapt at walking a fashion tight-rope or in a super conservative dress environment, stick with more classic hose.
- Don’t Mix Patterns and Prints- Combining a potpourri of prints is a key trend this season. Only the most adept fashionistas should try their hand at combining patterns without winding up looking like a frenzied fashion faux pas. Since mastering a fashion hodge-podge can be a tough call, plenty of designers and fashion brands make mixing prints a no-brainer by purposely designing ‘pre-packaged’ collections with complimenting prints to alleviate the fear or foul-up of combining the wrong patterns and inadvertently looking like a fashion disaster. Hint to mixing patterns: The ground colors need to compliment each other.
- Don’t Wear Certain Colors Together- In the past, people didn’t combine certain colors simply because it just wasn’t done. If you like the way pink and red look together and you are a red head, go for it! It’s the odd blending of colors that can make an outfit interesting- think Miuccia Prada and not Color Me Beautiful! There are about 2,000 colors out there– some shades, tones, and nuances look better when combined than others. Wear what combination is pleasing to you, but never try to pass-off two shades of the same color in the same fabric (like purple-black and green-black) as a matched suit. Play with combining textures to add even more dimension.
- Never Wear White Before Memorial Day- There is a color called winter white, you know. It’s not the color, it’s the fabric that’s the issue. Lightweight fabrics are for warmer weather and heavier fabrics are for cooler weather. For at least the past 5 years, wearing white in the winter as an accent is a modern fashion basic
- Don’t Mix Gold and Silver- The fear of combining silver and gold jewelry sounds like a fashion rule that was started by a bunch of greedy jewelers to lure customers into buying twice as much jewelry! Yes, you can combine metals in the same way that you can mix gem stones. The easiest way is by wearing an anchor piece which weaves multiple metals together. Or, wear several similarly styled pieces rather than an offhand concoction of a variety of styles. Keep to the same finish, same tone of metal, and same theme- matte silver with matte gold, shiny green gold with shiny platinum, ethnic antiqued silver with ethnic antiqued brass to make the mixed look go together.
- Satin or Sequins are Eveningwear- Yeah, go tell the fashion editors that. So-called evening separates, like a little vintage-looking sequin sweater, worn in a quirky manner with distressed jeans or olive cargo pants is a primo in the fash biz look at this moment. This archaic rule probably stems from a time when day and evening clothes were more defined. People actually went home and changed into cocktail dresses after 6PM and wouldn’t be caught dead in something glamorous before the sun set. Now, there’s more of an anything goes attitude and we really need clothes that can take us from work to play without the need to run home for a costume change.
Night for day appears more special and less chintzy when it’s worn as a style accent– like a satin blouse worn under a classic suit– rather than a style accident, say a charmeuse slip dress worn with a pair of office-worthy moccasins, nope.
- Don’t Wear High Heels with Cropped Pants- The trend now is to wear a fantastic high heel shoe, like a platform or wedgie with a crop pant. Wussy little slip-ons look dated. Go for the bold, the higher the heel the better as long as the sole is big and thick.
In the Fifties, high heels with Capri pants had a sort of slutty connotation although there is something endearing about a kittenish Jayne Mansfield wiggle. Capri pants became more casual and the rule was to never mix laid-back clothing with dressier shoes. However, proportion is what should be the main concern. Most women look downright dumpy in flat shoes worn in combination with short pants. A bit of a heel creates a longer and leaner silhouette. Take note that the width of the pant leg is in balance with the style of the shoe. Wider leg crop pants will look more refined with a bulkier shoe and skinny leg crop pants are more flattering with a pointy toe or delicate wedge sandal.
- Handbag, Shoes, and Belt Should Always Match- The boringness of this stodgy fashion rule drives me nuts, matching accessories is about as relevant today as assuming a lady must wear a hat and gloves. Your bag, shoes, and belt should compliment each other but not be an exact match. Combining different textures in related colors that work with your overall look is far more interesting than going with a dowdy, dated, matchy-matchy combinations besides, who has the patience to change her purse every day?
- Your Skirt Should Never Be Longer Than Your Coat- In the mid-1920’s, knee-length hemlines finally made its debut and the shorter cocoon coat was very much in vogue. As fashion progressed, so did the skirt/coat rule of keeping everything in line until after WWII when fashion went mad over Christian Dior’s New Look mid-calf circle skirts and women were saddled with shorter coats which adhered to previous wartime fabric orders. The idea of a skirt dangling out of a coat symbolized a post-war pickle that women were more than happy to pass over.
With the advent of longer, fuller skirts this season, a shorter coat looks right when the two hemlines are in proportion. Your skirt and coat shape and length must be in harmony to create a streamlined appearance. While a droopy full skirt hanging below your skinny coat’s hemline appears raggedy and unfinished, a fuller, belted 7/8 coat in a complimenting color would look modern.
What’s key to fashion’s modernity is to allow your eye to adjust to what’s new instead of lingering in restrictions which inhibit individuality and personal style. It is always better to gamble with style then remain in a fashion rut. Explore and evolve!
–Original publish date March 2, 2005