11 style rules that are now OK to break

Noam Galai/Getty ImagesPairing black and navy blue used to be considered a faux pas.
  • There are a number of style “rules” etched into pop culture, and many stem from traditional ideals held by previous generations.
  • Phrases like “never wear white after Labour Day” and “dress for your age” used to dictate the way we chose our outfits – but many are now, largely, obsolete.
  • In recent years, women and men have started to throw the rule book out the window by pairing navy and black, mismatching bold patterns, and, generally, taking way more fashion risks.

Certain fashion-related rules may have plagued our minds for decades, if not centuries: the stigma around red lipstick at work, the inability to wear white after Labour Day, matching your shoes to your purse, your bracelet to your necklace, and so on.

But these days, men and women are breaking with convention. People are daring to button the top button. Rihanna mixes silver and gold jewellery (gasp!), and Mahershala Ali recently accepted an Oscar wearing a beanie.

The future is now. So, here are 11 style rules you probably heard from your grandparents that are now totally outdated.

You can’t wear white after Labour Day.

Marc Piasecki/GC ImagesAngelina Jolie in January 2018.

This rule seems to be ingrained in everyone’s brains, that white is an inherently bright tone, and it is therefore reserved for the summer months.

According to Business Insider, the post-Labour Day mandate was a product of functionality, above all else:

“Back in the days before air conditioning (gasp), white attire was simply cooler to wear (in temperature, not in vibe). When it wasn’t appropriate to don skimpier, skin-baring, casual looks in scorching temps, one simply had to rely on lighter, less heat-absorbing clothing. If you had to be fully dressed, a paler palette would at least help prevent sun stroke.”

It’s also possible that the rule had classist origins, said the BI article. Back in the day, people from the “dirty city” wore dark colours, but rich people could afford cushy summer getaways, where white clothes remained unscathed. Wearing white, in such a case, signified privilege.

These days, most people pay no mind to the rule. Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian West, and Angelina Jolie (above) have all rocked “winter white” without a second thought.

You shouldn’t mix black and navy.

Christian Vierig/Getty ImagesNicole Warne at 2016 Fashion Week in Paris.

Cosmopolitan.com called this rule “antiquated” in 2014, and style editor Charles Manning offered some practical tips on how to rock the two colours together (and break with convention).

“If the colours are particularly similar, it’s a good idea to layer them next to or on top of each other so their differences are more apparent,” Manning wrote. “Combining pieces with different textures – leather with denim, silk with wool, etc. – will also keep similar colours from bleeding together. That said, if you’re going for a subtler look, a little colour confusion can actually be a good thing.”

Double denim is tacky.

Gotham/GC ImagesRihanna in double denim, 2017.

Denim on denim used to be reserved for Jay Leno, but not in 2019 – a myriad of celebrities have hijacked the edgy, country-esque trend, and it totally works in their favour.

Mila Kunis, Gigi Hadid, and Zoe Kravitz have paired their denim jackets with matching jeans, but other celebs, like Kate Hudson and David Beckham, have gone so far as to mix different shades of blue. As the saying goes: fortune favours the bold (especially the bold denim).

Never, ever wear socks and sandals.

Timur Emek/Getty ImagesGilda Ambrosio at the Alberta Feretti show during Milan Fashion Week, 2018.

Though dads worldwide would disagree, the socks and sandals collaboration has been a low-key faux pas for years. Why would you want to feel a wool-cotton blend while wearing shoes that, by nature, allow your toes to breathe? Apart from that, the two items together have been deemed, well, unsightly.

But different times are upon us: socks and sandals are now the latest in chic. GQ recently called the trend “cool,” confirming that “one of the most cardinal style rules – never wearing socks with sandals – has been by broken with zero regard by the likes of Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and Tyler, the Creator.”

Moreover, many fashion influencers and celebrities have been wearing their finest argyle numbers with high-heeled, open-toed sandals. Glamour called it part of the “so-wrong-it’s-right” trend, which has been dominating runways in 2019.

You should avoid mixing prints.

Matthew Sperzel/Getty ImagesMan Repeller founder Leandra Medine at 2018 New York Fashion Week.

Subtlety, be gone! These days, the better the clash, the more high fashion.

In 2018, pattern clash worked its way from cool-girl street style to the runways of Vivienne Westwood and Anna Sui. Leandra Medine, the founder of fashion site Man Repeller, has been partaking in “the clash” for years.

British fashion brand ASOS recommends going all out with the trend – lipstick shirts and flaming skirts, a black-and-white checkered jacket with camouflage pants. If you’re going there,go there.

Never button the top button.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TurnerActor Chris Pine, 2018.

According to British GQ, the buttoning the top button debate has been running rampant in the fashion world for the last few years. It used to be a definite no-no, especially in the days of suit-and-tie rigidity, but it has emerged as a serious trend.

In 2017, GQ Fashion Director Robert Johnson offered up a few tips for men: “First, only do up the top button if the shirt is plain. The look doesn’t work with Hawaiian shirts, for example. In other words, if you can’t wear a tie with it don’t do it up. This look works best with either a simple white or chambray shirt.”

These days, it’s pretty much a free-for-all. Both men and women are opting to button all the way up.

Dress for your age.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for NYFW: The ShowsThe 97-year-old fabric designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel.

Since when did fashion have to do with ageing? Well, since a while. For years, the idea that women should dress “appropriately” for their age permeated society – the older you got, the more conservative your neckline got.

But that’s all been thrown out the window, for the most part, in recent years. According to an AARP study cited in Allure, which polled 2,000 women, ages 21 to 72, “Tired tropes (think: ‘Things No Woman Over 40 Should Wear’) were also overturned. Nearly as many Gen Xers as Millennials rock miniskirts. Boomers, however, own that space most, with 72 per cent of them claiming they can ‘feel free to dress how I want.'”

Red lips and bold nails are unprofessional.

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesCongresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the 2019 State of the Union.

In 1770, Britain passed a law condemning red lipstick, saying “women found guilty of seducing men into matrimony by cosmetic means could be tried for witchcraft.” In the 1920s, red lips were the ultimate act of female rebellion. And for the rest of history, the bright shade has been in and out of society’s favour.

The colour red was off-limits for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was sworn in a few years ago. So, this year, fellow Bronx native and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez donned red lips and hoop earrings in her honour, writing on Twitter:

“Lip+hoops were inspired by Sonia Sotomayor, who was advised to wear neutral-coloured nail polish to her confirmation hearings to avoid scrutiny. She kept her red. Next time someone tells Bronx girls to take off their hoops, they can just say they’re dressing like a Congresswoman.”

Your shoes should match your purse.

Christian Vierig/Getty ImagesJanka Polliani wearing Balenciaga boots and a Gucci bag in 2017.

This rule is in the same vein as “matching your shoes to your belt.” Accessory uniformity is now moot, as 2019 fashion favours, if not craves, the mismatched.

Though your shoes and bag can make or break an outfit, per brand and image consultant Isabel Spearman, they don’t have to be colour-coordinated anymore.

“I love any excuse to wear leopard print but less is definitely more, so pair printed shoes (the most office appropriate option for an office) with a tan leather or suede bag,” Spearman wrote in the Telegraph. “Look for bags and shoes that are two or more colours or have a bit of texture, as they will go with more.”

Mixing silver and gold jewellery looks hodgepodge.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for CotyJennifer Lopez often mixes silver and gold bracelets.

Back in 2012, the Huffington Post said that wearing gold and silver jewellery together was no longer a faux pas.

And influencers and celebrities alike have continued to flout the convention. Jennifer Lopez often mixes the metals, and Rihanna has been known to layer gold and silver necklaces. The lesson? If you want to wear both, wear both.

Don’t wear a hat indoors.

Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesMahershala Ali winning an Oscar for his role in ‘Green Book,’ 2019.

Hats have been a focal part of history. Yet, there’s a long-held belief that it’s improper to wear one indoors, and the Emily Post Institute would still agree.

Slowly but surely, men and women alike have been shattering this tradition, wearing hats when and where they see fit. Mahershala Ali donned an epic black beanie at the 2019 Academy Awards (and gave his winning speech wearing it), and the likes of Vanessa Hudgens and Bella Hadid have been rocking the “baker boy” hat trend on the regular.

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