DON’T WEAR WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY (And Other Dumb Fashion Rules Meant to Be Broken)

If you're still following outdated fashion rules, allow me to set you free.
Publish date:
September 3, 2013
clothes, shoppables, style, fashion rules, break the rules

If you've ever read even one word I've written, you probably know that I believe fashion rules were meant to be broken. They are mostly made up blurbs that have been regurgitated by goofy magazines and fashion pundits to the point that they basically have zero meaning anymore.

Even if they were relevant at one time, it's 2013! Baby, the times, they are a changin'. Don't you dare be shamed into following outdated, outmoded, made-up fashion rules -- I simply won't allow it.

DUMB RULE #1: No white after Labor Day!

Whoever decreed this rule either 1) never heard of "winter whites" or 2) never lived in California or Texas during the month of September. Coco Chanel herself wore white clothes year round as early as 1920 -- and no fashion historian expert I consulted could trace the origin of this rule with any authority.

The most probable theory of how this rule ever came to be says that Labor Day signals the official end of summer and a return to the weary doldrums of fall, so one must dress accordingly. Leisure clothes were highly uncommon before the early 20th century -- so by allowing folks "permission" to wear them during the scorching summer months, one must also then put the kibosh on heathens wearing those darn leisure clothes year round! Next thing you know, we'll be wearing our pajamas to the grocery store and flip-flops to a funeral.

Decorum must be maintained, people.

It's currently 102 degrees inside my 100 year old house in Los Angeles as I type this -- on Labor Day, no less, so you can be guaranteed I'll be wearing white for at least the next month or two.

Please ignore the fact that my slip is hanging out in that photo. (I'm only human.) That's one fashion rule you should TOTALLY be following, by the way -- always wear a slip under your whites! They are hella see-through.

I believe you can even rock your summer whites in the dead of winter by simply adding some black tights and chunky boots. It's the ultimate pristine-angel-meets-bad-boy-in-a-nightclub look.

DUMB RULE #2: Don’t mix black and brown (or black and blue, for that matter.)

You'd have to do some fancy footwork to convince me that a brown belt isn't the perfect foil for a black dress. It adds a sense of lightness that a solid black dress is inherently missing. Just make sure it's a lighter shade of brown for maximum contrast and repeat a spot of brown somewhere else in your outfit -- be it a leather cuff, a cardigan, your shoes or your handbag.

Black & Brown by alison-freer featuring brown cross body handbags

And what, pray tell, are you supposed to wear on your feet with a navy dress? A pair of navy shoes? Hardly. There's maybe one outfit in history that doesn't look good with black shoes, and I've yet to find it. If black with navy is such a fashion faux pas, then why are designers falling all over themselves to cram it down our throats?

Black & Blue by alison-freer featuring wedge heel shoes

DUMB RULE #3: Don't mix your metals.

I used to fear mixing metals myself. But I've since realized that there's a reason the Cartier Trinity ring is an eternal fashion classic! (PS: If you're the person who stole mine, take a peek at what's engraved inside. One day I'll find you, and it won't be pretty.)

I think the secret to mixing jewelry metals lies in wearing a third piece that matches one you already have on -- so it's not just a silver ring with a gold pair of earrings. You need to add either a handbag with gold hardware or a necklace in silver to even out the look. I find that a simple set of bangles that mix silver and gold together give you a license to wear any other mixed metals you want at the same time.

Silver & Gold by alison-freer featuring a stackable bracelet

DUMB RULE #4: Fear wearing horizontal stripes!

This might just be the dumbest fashion rule of all. Are you really trying to tell me that fashion juggernaut J. Crew is trying to sell all of planet Earth on endless variations of the Breton stripe tee when it's actually hideously unflattering? Methinks not.

The stripes rule is often parroted by paranoid actresses and their obsessive handlers at fittings. I like to point them to the case of one Kate Moss in an endless parade of stripes. She seems to be none the worse for the wear after wearing them. (Also: see our very own Lesley Kinzel for even further proof.)

DUMB RULE #5: Your bag must match your shoes.

This rule was firmly in place during the 40s, 50s and even the 1960s. My mom tells a great story about getting a red patent clutch with matching sandals for her birthday in 1965, and it being a really big deal.

However, by the time the late 70s rolled around, women had jobs outside the home and couldn't be bothered to follow this rule one second longer. When you're a working stiff, sometimes you carry around a giant bag of life essentials that doesn't always match your shoes. (Have a look at any photo of Jackie O schlepping around manuscripts in her Gucci bag while wearing espadrilles during her time as an editor at Doubleday in the 70s -- it's hard to believe that was just 10 short years after her pink suit with matching bag and shoe days.)

I can't remember the last time I matched my bag to my shoes -- in my book, contrast is the cornerstone of great style. Matching is pretty boring. Besides, what sort of "matching" shoe could I possibly pair with my collection of crazy patterned handbags??

The "rules" go on and on: don't wear yellow if you're a blonde (totally false -- I do it all the time), don't wear red if you're a redhead (wrong -- you just have to find the right shade of red) and avoid wearing tights with open toed shoes (I disagree -- how else are you supposed to wear your peep-toe shoes in the dead of winter??)

If you ignore one rule, you may as well ignore 'em all. Rules are for suckers anyways.I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison