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5 Style Rules You Should Break

Featured photo credit.

Recently I’ve been thinking about all the style “rules” I learned growing up–what colors you can pair together, when you should wear certain items of clothing, and so on. Thankfully, fashion seems to have loosened its reins considerably in the last decade–great style has become more about what looks flattering or interesting or unique, and less about being a slave to specific trends. Here are the rules we think you should gleefully break.


1. Never wear black and blue together.


Modern Strides Print Sheath Dress – $99 ($118); Ottoman Stripe Knit Skirt – $78

It used to be that you could wear ANYTHING with black…except blue, especially navy blue. Somehow these colors got the reputation of not getting along and style mavens avoided the pairing at all costs. Boo, we say! Look how lovely the combinations of blue and black are in the dress and skirt above from Ann Taylor. Pairing it with black makes blue really pop, even dark blue. It looks sophisticated while still being colorful. Other options for pairing black and blue together: black blazer with turquoise shell; cropped black pants with sky blue printed heels.


2. It’s tacky to mix gold and silver metals.


Sterling Silver, Copper and Brass Bangles – $88; Mixed Metal Stack Ring – $35

Thank goodness we can throw this one by the wayside. I love yellow gold and sterling silver and rose gold–sometimes all at once. I don’t want to have to avoid wearing my favorite earrings just because they’re a different metal than my wedding band. Wearing mixed metals brings an earthy simplicity to your ensemble while still adding a bit of color variation. One of the best ways to mix metals in an ensemble is to have a piece (or pieces) that combine multiple metals, which then bring together the rest of your jewelry. For instance, the beautiful ring above at right by Etsy proprietor Jayne Norvelle combines both rose gold and yellow gold in a single stackable ring. You could play off this mixed set by wearing it with yellow gold hoops and rose gold bangles. That way there’s a seamless transition from metal to metal. Or in the lovely bangle set above at left, also by Ms. Norvelle, the pieces are technically separate but clearly designed to wear together. You could easily wear silver, yellow gold or rose gold to accompany this bangle set.


3. Don’t pair pink with red.


Cap-Sleeved Wrap Dress – $26.94; Crew Cardigan – $39.99 ($44.95);  Pointed Ballet Flats – $20 ($22.94)

This one always seemed weird to me. If I can wear light green with dark green, why can’t I wear pink (essentially a light red) with red? No more! One of my favorite go-to outfits for summer last year was a red stretchy skirt, light pink tank, and cropped coral t-shirt. It combines all different shades of red and looks amazing–so cheery and bright. I also love the outfit assembled above from Old Navy and Gap pieces. First, a red wrap dress at a very reasonable price. Then over top, a pinky-coral cardigan. On the feet, pink patterned ballet flats. For the plus size gals, what about this bright pink jersey dress with a red draped cardigan? One caveat if you decide to tackle this look–not all pinks and reds look great together. Make sure the colors aren’t too similar in shade. The effect should be that the red should make the pink pop, and vice versa. If it looks like a big clashy mess, try a more subtle shade for one of the colors.


4. Never wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.


Cropped Matchstick Jean – $92 ($115); Boardwalk Linen Skirt -$55.60 ($69.50); Marina Mini-Wedge Espadrilles – $88 ($110) (all discounts w/code INSIDER20)

While I’m not a proponent of wearing all-white ensembles in mid-January, I think the rule about not wearing large swatches of white clothing unless it’s between May and September is truly silly. What about a beautiful white sweater dress during winter? You’ll look like a snow princess. Well maybe that’s not the look you want, but my point is that white is appropriate for winter–it’s one of the main colors we see out our window, at least in the colder states. And if it gets warm in April, why not wear the cute white jeans featured above from J.Crew? Probably don’t want to wear these to Christmas dinner, but if it’s 70 degrees on April 10, there’s no reason you shouldn’t celebrate spring early. The white linen skirt, also J.Crew, is perfectly acceptable to wear during an October Indian Summer, as are the cream-colored espadrilles. Let weather and circumstance determine what colors you where when, instead of an arbitrary date on the calendar.


5. Match, match, match.


Reading by the Riverbank Dress in Moss – $74.99; How Do You Feel? Heel in Mustard – $64.99; Pretty Pointers Bracelet – $24.99; Full Course Load Bag in Green – $84.99

This was the rule it took me longest to figure out how to break. If you wear a black dress, you should wear black shoes. Or, at the very craziest, another neutral like gray. If you wear jeans and a green top, your shoes should either be a neutral, or in the green color family, as should all your jewelry and other accessories. Say no to the matchy-matchyness! It’s much more interesting to pair complementary colors together. This way you’re enhancing each color, instead of having each color disappear against the next. Take this ensemble above, made with items from ModCloth. First we have a beautiful dress that looks like it’s been hand-painted. Because there’s not a dominant color, there’s lots of opportunity to play and experiment. I’ve paired the dress with mustard-colored heels and a mint green handbag–both of these colors are represented in the dress, so they work together, even if you might not normally pair mint and mustard. Then for a bracelet, I’ve picked this more neutral piece that pulls out some of the oranges, yellows, and blues in the dress. The shoes, bag, and bracelet aren’t perfect matches for each other, or even the dress, but it’s SO much more interesting this way!

Got any rules you love to break? Tell us about it in the comments!

Author: Beth

Writer, blogger, basset-hound walker. Beth is a connoisseur of nachos and holiday films. She loves books, sidecars, costume jewelry, and people with a quirky sense of humor.

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