#TheDress Broke One of Fashion's Dumbest "Rules"—and Here's Why You Should Too

Rules are for suckers.
Publish date:
March 2, 2015
shoppables, the internet, fashion rules, tights, winter style, navy blue, Good Style

Groan, groan, grumble, grumble, haven't we heard enough about #TheDress yet? Of course we have, though if you choose to read one more single solitary word about the whole thing, it should be this post about how Buzzfeed's tech team cleverly kept the site from crashing during 41 million+ hits in less than 24 hours.

I saw the dress as white and gold originally—and was convinced everyone else was nuts, as I hold a card that certifies me as not being color-blind. (It's a requirement for becoming a costume designer!)

I feel so strongly about my color aptitude that when it suddenly changed to blue and black on me after staring at it for 20 solid minutes, an actual chill ran over my body.

That stupid, poorly lit dress picture handily illustrated one of the biggest problems I run into on almost every job—that a fitting photo can't properly convey the exact color of a garment. So when an actor finally shows up on set in said garment, the director freaks out and screams "I THOUGHT IT WAS BLUE AND BLACK!" Trust, I'll be bringing up that dumb dress when faced with those situations forevermore.

I actually believe the dress was sent to earth in order to free us from the tyranny of one of fashion's most boring old "rules"—the idea that you shouldn't be wearing blue with black, or even navy with black.

It has long been held that wearing blue or navy with black is a fashion faux pas. This idea likely came about simply because they are so close in shade—and therefore make a boring ensemble. But when worn correctly, blue and black go together like whoa! However, there are a few things to keep in mind when doing so.


About the only time wearing blue with black isn't OK is when you do it simply because you can't find the bottom half of your black suit—and decide to just pass off a navy bottom piece as matching. Keeping blue on top and black bits at the bottom of an ensemble makes sure to "anchor" the look.

The key to wearing blue with black is contrast. Always make sure that the blue you choose can't be mistaken for black in low light—otherwise people will think you got dressed in the dark and didn't realize the item in question wasn't also black. And when in doubt, trust a crisp white shirt to add in that much-needed contrast.


I've yet to find an outfit that didn't look cute with black shoes, because a contrasting black shoe simply grounds everything and gives it the sharp edge that a matchy-matchy show never could. (Shorter: LONG LIVE THE 90s!)


Wondering what leg covering goes with a blue or navy dress? One word always: BLACK. But choose a pair with a bit of lace, texture, or other interest to break up the look (and help it avoid becoming too "flat.")


While navy can sometimes look muddy and dull when paired with black, shades of cobalt or sky blue will always play against it nicely—something only the hub-bub over #TheDress could have totally, finally, and completely driven home. No more questions, your honor.


Never be afraid to add a dose of red or a splash of silver jewelry to a dress you may think has enough going on already. Blue and black makes your base canvas far more interesting—but are still both neutrals, so you can still feel free to build on it with accessories to your heart's content.

Aren't you glad that stupid, ugly dress brought us all together?

I wrote a book — "How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing," available now for pre-order.