11 fashion 'rules' you should break, according to stylists

Renata Gimatova/EyeEm/Getty ImagesSome fashion rules, like wearing socks with sandals, were made to be broken.
  • Fashion is all about experimenting and finding one’s own sense of style.
  • Some professional stylists like to disregard the style rules that have been etched into our minds.
  • Go ahead and wear white after Labour Day or mix your silver and gold jewellery.
  • Visit Insider’s home page for more stories.

If you’ve ever read a magazine or looked up fashion tips online, you’ve probably come across at least a few fashion rules that you feel you need to abide by. No one really knows exactly where they came from, or who made them up, but we all know that we’re supposed to be following them.

These rules may have began with good intentions, but they actually aren’t that helpful. They lead to fashion myths that can smother any sense of personal style. Fashion should be about wearing what you like and what makes you feel good, and that shouldn’t come with a set of guidelines. A great outfit can be something classic and trendy, but it can also be something unique and wild. Listening to fashion myths is never going to help anyone find their own personal sense of style.

Even legitimate stylists, who make a living out of coaching people on what to wear, dislike the rules within the industry. Insider spoke with a few stylists who talked about the fashion myths they want everyone to stop believing, and their answers just might help you put together a more creative look each day.


Sweatpants are only for your house.

John Phillips/GettyThey’re even on the runway.

Sweatpants have always been seen as an article of clothing that is only appropriate for the days you spend in the comfort of your own home. But if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the athleisure trend isn’t going anywhere. In other words, sweatpants can absolutely make a stylish outfit. LA-based stylist Kimmy Erin Kertes told Insider, “I don’t know if we should be thanking Virgil Abloh or whoever Lululemon is, but I’m so grateful that comfort and style can be combined in a modern way and with a statement attached.”

Ignore the myth that they can’t be dressed up, and pair your comfiest sweats with the right accessories to make them work for any event. Kertes says, “Sweatpants are great. Tracksuits are great (mismatched or matched). Popped with a heel? You’re unstoppable.”


You shouldn’t wear leather in the spring or summer.

James Devaney/Getty ImagesIt works for any season.

Leather is a heavier material than, say, cotton, and so many believe it should be avoided during the warmer months. INSIDER spoke to fashion stylist and costume designer Tiffany Hasbourne, who said, “If this was the truth, then why do they make leather shorts, leather bustiers, and cropped leather jackets? Especially in a time where New York and even LA are experiencing chilly nights, why not throw on your favourite biker jacket over a dress or leather shorts with a cute jean jacket to add a bit of edge to your look?”

Don’t feel that you have to wear materials based on the season if you feel comfortable in them.


You can’t mix silver and gold jewellery.

Emma McIntyre/Getty ImagesMixing metals is a fun way to accessorize.

Mixing metals if often frowned upon, but two stylists agreed that it’s a myth that needs to die. Hasbourne said, “This is one of my favourite myths to defy. I wear silver and gold together all the time.”

This doesn’t just apply to silver and gold.

“Mix all the metals! Rose, yellow, and white gold are a great place to start, but of course there’s room to add in oxidized shades and coloured stones,” Kertes said.


If you’re short, you can’t wear maxi dresses.

Jason Kempin/GettyIt’s all about a good fit.

Short women are often told that they can’t pull off maxi dresses because they will look even shorter in them. This is definitely not true, and in fact, maxi dresses can sometimes elongate the body. Insider spoke with celebrity fashion stylist and co-founder/creative + style director of Athleisure Mag, Kimmie Smith, who said, “When you ensure that things fit properly due to buying the correct size or going to a tailor, your wardrobe options are infinite.”


You should always dress according to your age.

Neilson Barnard/GettyBetsey Johnson always looks happy and confident.

How many times have you heard someone say they can’t wear something because it’s “too young” for them? The myth that clothes come with an age range is a silly one.

“Dress your personality. If you want to look like a conservative 45-year-old housewife, by all means, go to Talbots, J.Jill, and Dillard’s,” Kertes said. “But don’t let society’s weird rule-making tell you that you can’t be 45 and hot and stylish and setting trends. Know yourself and then dress yourself.” Basically, wear what makes you feel good instead of wearing what you think you should have on.


Brown and black don’t go together.

Slaven Vlasic/GettyEven designers do it.

One myth many of us are sick of hearing is that the colours black and brown don’t go together at all. This couldn’t be more untrue. Smith says, “This can totally be done, as they are both neutrals.” Personally, this is one of my favourite shade combinations.


Navy and black don’t go together either.

Frederick M. Brown/GettyNavy and black can be an elegant colour combination.

You should also feel free to mix navy and black as often as you’d like because this is another myth that isn’t true. Just be a little careful about the shades.

“If your navy and your black are really similar, it might look like maybe you made a mistake,” Kertes said. “But an intentional navy with a deep, dark black is stunning.”


Capes were made for superheroes only.

Neilson Barnard/Getty ImagesLena Waithe attends the Met Gala 2018

Capes are a stylish item that many people don’t take advantage of because they feel like they look like a costume. Hasbourne doesn’t agree, and told Insider, “My client Lena Waithe wore a cape to the Met Gala this year over a custom suit. You can do a nice business casual suit that has a cape instead of just a blazer, or a stunning one in place of your coat. Either way, they are available in every colour, fabric, length, and for different body types to bring your closet into true hero fashion.”


You can’t wear socks with sandals.

Hannah Peters/Getty ImagesIt can actually make a huge statement.

One of the oldest fashion myths that everyone knows is that you can’t wear socks with sandals. Says who? Hasbourne, who is a costume designer for HBO’s series “Ballers,” said, “On season four of ‘Ballers’ we put this myth to bed when Ricky Jerret and his girlfriend and child’s mother Amber look at very expensive houses in Gucci’s $US1400 stoned logo GG socks with platform Gucci heels. It’s the new trend, and fashion is constantly evolving past these old myths.” Definitely feel free to liven your sandals up with some fun socks (they don’t need to be that expensive!).


You can’t wear white after Labour Day.

Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesWear white whenever you want.

Another super outdated fashion myth is that white is a huge no-no after Labour Day. Don’t believe it Smith said.

“The biggest fashion myth that I don’t agree with is this imaginary rule of not being able to wear white after Labour Day,” Smith said. “White is a neutral and can be worn at any time. It gives most skin tones a natural glow and shouldn’t be relegated to a certain time of year.” Winter whites are definitely a good thing.


Your shoes and bag should always match.

dramalens/ShutterstockDon’t worry if they match.

This old myth has no place in today’s world. Kertes said, “This one is so limiting and sad. Contrast is sometimes the key to making a look pop, on the red carpet or off. Coordinate or clash, and try not to match. I’d go so far as to say that, with some exceptions, matching shoes and bags are nearly a faux pas!”

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