Five Fashion Rules to Throw Out the Window

At least once I week I get calls or emails from friends and family with styling questions such as, “I see white jeans in every J.Crew catalog, but it isn’t Memorial Day yet, so is it okay to wear them”, or  “How can I wear this season’s bright colors without looking like a psychedelic trip from the 1970’s?”.   While I love to help my loved ones navigate the seemingly treacherous waters of the sometimes fickle world of fashion, what really got to me was the fact that fashion isn’t suppose to be difficult! Rather, dressing should be a fun and enjoyable experience, a tool that allows you to outwardly express the person you are on the inside.   So, what is the easiest way to stop overthinking fashion and start enjoying it?  Throw the rules out the window! When you’re not forced to abide by guidelines that are either outdated, or simply stupid to begin with, you can embrace the freedom of full self-expression.  So let’s all give one collective adios to the five fashion rules that you only thought you had to abide by.

Rule #1:  No White before Memorial Day or after Labor Day

Gucci, SS 2011

For decades, we have been told that white is reserved for summer dressing only, the four months bookended by Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Welcome to a new decade. White can actually be worn all year round as long as you make sure that the fabrics are seasonally appropriate (lightweight knits in bright whites are better left for summer).  What is even better is that white is no longer reserved for cotton basics, but rather has designers playing with form, fabrics and new shapes.

Tommy Hilfiger, SS 2011

Alexander McQueen SS 2011

The total absence of color allows the eye to really focus on the shape and texture of the clothing. So embrace white all year round, just make sure you have enough in your debit account to cover the dry cleaning bills!

Rule #2: Bright Color is Best Used in Moderation

Hermes, SS 2011

How about, go big or go home!  This summer, more than any other I can recall, is all about color, and vibrant color at that. Tangerine, turquoise, yellow, bright pink, all happy colors that carry a lot of power, can be intimidating to wear beyond a shirt anchored by black or beige pants.  Here, what you have to do is ignore the old rule of “too much of a good thing is bad”, because it isn’t.  When wearing color remember that a monochromatic look (wearing one color only) can have a lengthening and slimming effect as the eye doesn’t stop at one point (what normally happens when you wear a belt or different colors thereby breaking up the body into sections), but instead continuously moves.  The biggest trend this summer is orange but as demonstrated on the runway, color is your friend and you can be as bold as you want to be!

Michael Kors, SS 2011

Fendi, SS 2011

If you do choose to embrace the citrus shade that I most favor, do yourself a favor and use key accent colors such as turquoise, gold or bright pink to accessorize as seen at Paul and Joe Spring Summer 2011, très chic!

Paul and Joe, SS 2011

Rule #3:  No Mixing Prints!

Tommy Hilfiger SS 2011

To this I say, your creativity is the only limit there is.  Prints are meant to be mixed, specifically when they share the same color palette.  Stripes and floral prints are top trends this summer and will continue through fall, so find a color you love and select key pieces in distinct fabrics, textures and shapes that compliment each other.  Here are a few examples to help you get the idea.

Complimentary Stripes/Plaid:

Tommy Hilfiger SS 2011

Breton Stripes and Florals:

Jason Wu, SS 2011

Complementary Geometric Prints:

Diane von Furstenberg SS 2011

Rule #4:  Lace = Formalwear

Ralph Lauren SS 2011

Although lace used to be reserved for elegant evening wear, or for little girl’s dresses, it is now being used across the board and is appropriate for women of all ages.  Lace can run the gamut from frilly and feminine, to delicate and ethereal to casual and bohemian.  Choose the style and color of lace that most fits your taste and focus on selecting a silhouette that favors your body shape, be it a long dress a short mini or a 1060’s inspired shift or a great blouse.

Louis Vuitton SS 2011

Valentino SS 2011

Dolce & Gabanna SS 2011

Kirsten Dunst in Haute Chanel

Kate Bosworth in Topshop Lace Dress

Rule #5:  Don’t Mix Denim

Ralph Lauren SS 2010

Although the 1990’s look of matchy denim outfits will stay a relic of the past (thank God!),  the all denim look is back both on the runway and in the real way (especially with celebs). The key here is to make sure that the rinse of the denims are different enough to note a difference.  Take a cue from Chloe and D&G as well as the following pretty people to see how to execute this look to perfection:

D&G SS 2010

Chloe, SS 2010

Reese Witherspoon

Pippa Middleton

Cameron Diaz

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