The fashion world is made up of “do’s” and “don’ts,” what you can wear and what you can’t, what is considered fashionable and what is not. The conventional rules of fashion regulate clothing choices, accessories and use of colour: ‘Your bags and belt must match your shoes’, ‘you can’t wear dark on top and light on the bottom,’ and ‘you should never match navy with black’. These were common reminders I was given by the Italian women in my family who insisted that every occasion was a good excuse to dress. According to them, it was these rules and traditions of dressing that made Italy the leading country in fashion design. While I do admire Italian beauty, fashion and style, as Douglas MacArther once said: Rules are also meant to be broken.
Rule #1: Don’t match navy and black – or red and pink
The myth that navy and black should not be matched together is one that needs to be debunked ASAP. Perhaps this is because of my personal discovery that much of my wardrobe is composed of navy and black and therefore have inadvertently found myself wearing the two colours. The key to matching navy and black is paying attention to the shades. For example, you can pair a washed-out black sweater with blue jeans so that the tones are different and each colour stands out on its own. Another way to wear navy and black together is to have a third colour standing out. This can be done by pairing gold or silver jewelry, a statement belt or a bright and colourful bag. The same goes for red and pink, two shades believed to clash that actually work well together and brighten up any gloomy day.
Rule #2 Always match your bags, belt and boots
Making all your outfits ‘matchy-matchy’ is no longer in. While for men in the working environment, matching their belt and boots is important for looking professional and put together, women have a more freedom in putting together outfits. Playing with different textures, then matching your bag with your shoes can bring the look together. But, if you want to give a pop of colour to an otherwise simple outfit, mismatching handbags and shoes can bring in a little something extra.
Rule #3: Never wear clashing prints
While I’m not personally a fan of animal prints, the idea that two different prints can’t be paired together has got to go. Matching prints has become more common especially as street fashion has gained more attention. The key is to coordinate a colour palette, picking two differently printed pieces that have the same shade. Alternatively, try something completely asymmetrical and pair prints of different sizes, like a big floral print and small-checked trousers. Another helpful tip is to use leopard print as a neutral–its shades of beige will mix easily with any colourful patterns.
While these are only a few fashion rules that can – and have – been broken, there are many more beliefs, rules and stereotypes about how people (especially women) should dress. Breaking these rules, however, has led to innovation, inspiration, new trends, and new styles, so why stop experimenting now?