Fashion Froward: Breaking the rules

By Kristian Buckner | Jun 25, 2014

One of the things that I believe scares people most about fashion is that they have this preconceived idea that there are all these rules that have to be followed that make everything so complex.

But the truth is, that it’s not like that at all. We’ve all heard these “rules,” the ones that pop up in our heads as we’re shopping. Like, you can’t wear black and blue together, or gold and silver, or even crazier ones like not being able to wear white after Labor Day.

Although in some cases these rules can be applied, that doesn’t mean by any standard that you can never ever, or you will be struck down by lightening, wear black and brown together. One of my professors told me once that you must know the rules before you can break them.

In fashion, it’s a bit different. You must know the rules, and why they don’t work, and why they exist at all, before you break them. For example, the old classic of not being able to wear white after Labor Day. This rule existed for the wealthy, mostly in Britain, who wore white during the summer. They would wear white in warmer weather because it was airy and light in an age of petticoats and corsets.

After Labor Day was when it would get rainier, and colder. Obviously the people of this time didn’t exactly have washing machines that they could just throw their garments into, so during the colder, rainier seasons they would wear darker colors.

Besides the changing of seasons, not wearing white after the holiday was also a sign of wealth. However, it’s not the 1800s anymore and wearing white during any time of the year is completely acceptable. Other rules that are more applicable to everyone today is wearing gold and silver together or wearing black and blue/brown together.

For the prior; what most people don’t realize is that metals are neutrals, and mixing metals can be edgy. With this try mixing gold and silver bangles for example, or layering necklaces, do it in odd numbers so it’s not obvious that you are trying to balance them out.

For the latter; this rule exists for the purpose that these are dark colors that are very similar. Mixing blacks and blues/brown works great when you can tell that there’s a difference between the two, so that it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a navy that you’re trying to pull of as black.

Wearing bright blues/brown with blacks can be great matches, just do it evenly, and consider throwing one other brighter colors in there, like white, to break up the dark colors. Another rule that I think is just silly is that you must match your bag to your belt, to your shoes.

While sometimes this can look nice and bring an outfit together, sometimes being too matchy-matchy looks just a bit strange. As long as the pieces are complementary, they don’t need to match. In fact, particularly for those who wear a lot of neutrals, throwing in a pop of color with your shoes or a handbag can do wonders to brighten up a look.

Last but not least: mixing prints. This is the tricky one because prints can be a difficult thing to work with. Here’s the secret, mix prints that are in the same color family. So you have a black and white houndstooth blazer? That’s great! Try putting a black and white striped shirt under it for a cool, modern look.

While keeping these thoughts in mind, and breaking out of your comfort zone, just remember it’s about having fun and expressing yourself. If it doesn’t feel right, or look right, don’t do it. Experimenting with your style can lead to great things, so go ahead, break the rules. See what it brings you.