Breaking Fashion’s Cardinal Rules

There are certain fashion rules that are just made to be broken. Not wearing white after labour day is one of them. With the world, climate and living arrangements evolving as rapidly as they have been over the past few decades, there is no rationale behind such absurdity anymore. Yet, if you’re like me, you still obey most of the rules blindly, preferring to hide your frustration to risking a gigantic fashion faux pas. I say it’s high time we finally stood up for personal comfort and style, and threw a few of these rubbish beliefs out the window. Here are the modern versions of old wives’ tales.

Former: No minis after 35
Modern: No minis with 5+-inch heels

With 50 being the new 30 (I kid you not!), there’s absolutely no reason why a woman cannot wear a mini even past the age of 35. The idea that beyond that age a woman’s legs are just not worth showing off is just preposterous. Sharon Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kim Cattrall, Jane Fonda, not to mention Madonna, Cher and hell, even Joan Rivers are perfect examples of women whose legs men are still drooling over. If you’ve got the legs (because even at 20, to pull off a mini, toned legs are a necessity), then go for it. We’ll embrace your for it. Just don’t pair them with extremely high stilettos – at any age – or you may end up looking more like a street worker.


Former: At work, dress conservatively
Modern: At work, work

As baby-boomers begin to exit the job market to take their well-deserved retirement break, an increasingly younger crowd is stepping in, and professional dress codes are gradually being revised and updated. While there will always be a need for decency, respect and image in the corporate world, there is no reason why you must dress in boring black suits everyday to be recognized as an asset by your employer. Pair formal pieces like jackets and knee-length skirts with funkier ones like fishnet stockings, green Louboutins, cool scarves and trendy rings to bring your own style into the mix.

Former: Beauty and brains do not mix
Modern: Beauty and brains are a must

There’s no need to look like a fashion model to be beautiful and there’s certainly no need to look like a complete nerd to be smart. While looking like a Playmate could have some people question your professional abilities (grab the opportunity to prove them wrong for an extra boost of pride), taking care of your looks every day does not – and should not – give the impression that you don’t measure up in your career. I’d even go so far as to say that those who don’t put the slightest effort in their appearance may not have understood the importance of social interaction in the workplace.

Former: There’s a colour scheme for every skin/hair pigment
Modern: There’s a colour scheme for every mood

The idea that fair-skinned redheads cannot wear pink is dated. (Didn’t anyone pay attention to Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink? She was the teen icon of the decade, and she more than pulled off the contrasting style.) Blondes with blue/green eyes may look their best in a mauve eyeshadow palette, but they can carry as much weight in brown. Dark-haired gals may give off an Elvira sentiment when dressed in dark attires, but picking the right cuts and fabrics can turn that goddess of the night into a true fashionista ensemble.

Former: Beauty comes from pain
Modern: Insanity comes from pain

Unless you’re talking about plucking or waxing, there should be no pain involved in your beauty regimen, short of a few blisters after breaking in a new pair of stilettos. Pain arises when you try to look like something you’re not. Fitting into tight clothing that is not suited to your body or losing 3 dress sides when you’re already at your healthy weight can indeed be extremely painful, but that has nothing to do with beauty. That’s insanity. Remember that couture is not always really “ready to wear”, and that even some RTW items are just not for you. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not you.

Former: You shouldn’t smell your perfume after you put it on; it’s a sign it suits you well.
Modern: If I’m going to dish out $150 on a 30mL bottle of Chanel, I am hoping to at least enjoy a drift every once in a while

I’m not going to argue with science here – it may be true that the scents that suit us best are those we cannot smell ourselves, but it doesn’t mean that those you can smell are foul. At the price we’re paying for eau de toilettes, it’s nice to be able to smell them as well, even if it’s just a quick breeze at the stroke of our hair.

Former: You must not wear leggings unless you are thin
Modern: You must not wear anything that doesn’t suit your body

Go ahead and wear leggings even if you’ve got an extra 30 pounds on your lower body. But please, do so with respect for others who may cross your path and pair them with a classy, long top that will enhance your curves. Don’t try to pull off a 5’11”, 95-pound waif’s look if you’ve got a totally different body shape. This rule applies to every article of clothing imaginable, and to every body shape possible: thin, thick, small, tall, round, long…

Former: Nude nylons are never appropriate
Modern: Going nude is not always appropriate

Nude hosiery is very controversial – and not very sexy most of the time – but if it makes your legs look 100 times better than they would bare, then please help make this world a better place and put them on. Also, if you have to appear at very formal places such as let’s say, um, a court of law, don’t you dare go bare-legged. It could hinder your chances of winning – no matter how silly this sounds. What you may want to avoid however are nude derivatives like strange suntan hues, overly white colours or shimmery shades. Just pick a nude that does what it’s supposed to do: not show on your legs. Just like makeup foundation.

The rules are: there are no rules

While very cliché, this is so very true. Common sense and sense of personal style will always serve you best, every day of your life. Don’t try to be fashionable if you’re not, you’ll only end up looking like a fashion victim. Just be stylish and fresh. Be yourself. Enjoy what you wear and look good in it. That’s what’s important.

Share this with your friends!

Like this? Tweet it to your followers!

Latest articles from Melanie Clark

blog comments powered by Disqus

Facebook Twitter RSS Feed 
Upcoming Fashion Events

No current events.

Fashion Biz Newsletter
* indicates required