In essence, fashion is all about self-expression--it's an opportunity to explore our own individual style and personal aesthetic. So why, then, do we spend so much time worrying about "what goes with what"? My first look at a fashion rule breaker was probably Carrie Bradshaw. Not only was "Sex And The City" an entertaining look at modern social issues, it also had a lead character who's style was unique and full of fashion firsts. I can only imagine how much fun the wardrobe staff had pairing runway couture with urban street style--it's what well versed fashionistas call "Juxtaposition". The thing we all loved about Ms. Bradshaw (or really the SATC style department) was that she balked at the so called "rules" of fashion. Our girl paired bright patterns with dramatic prints, and wore her whites whenever the heck she felt like it, even after labor day. So lets take a page from Carrie's book and explore which rules we should break a which ones we should definitely still follow--I'm looking at you socks with sandals.
If you're going to break the rules, or make your own, don't do it half way. You are going to have to take a big, confident step for womankind and go in fully loaded. After all, you can't be shy, and a rule breaker at the same time. Think of women like the aforementioned Carrie Bradshaw or even Iris Apfel--they tear the rules apart stitch by stitch, and sew them back together into something unexpected and fabulous. You definitely don't have to pair your tutu with a no-bra leotard and heels to get your point across, but making the choice to take a risk for fashion is very rarely subtle. Start small by mixing patterns and prints that have a like color scheme or wearing solid colors that have been deemed unwearable together. The most important tip for anyone dipping their toe into the taboo fashion pond is to keep focused, there is a big difference between looking fashion savvy and looking like you just stepped off the bus from crazy-ville. A safe place to start might be a little color blocking, or if that feels like a stretch, then simply add a pop of color to your look. The point is to think outside the box, just a bit....
Lets talk about the hardest rule for people to break in terms of knowing both how to do it and how to do it successfully--mixing patterns. Back in the fashion times of yore, mixing print with pattern was nixed by the so called "fashion elite" for being garish and vulgar. Nowadays people assume that it is still taboo, well I think we all know what assuming does. There are a couple tricks to breaking this rule that will make you look like a fantastically forward fashionista. If you are stepping out for the first time in mixed pattern and/or print territory think about going for something neutral. I'm going to tell you five little words that will forever change your life: leopard print is a neutral--and if you don't believe me, ask Tim Gunn. Other really important key ingredients to making any mixed print and/or pattern outfit palatable are to keep the color palette focused and to make sure your patterns aren't competing. The first one is pretty easy, you should pick prints with similar colors or a like theme throughout, that way you look pulled together instead of like that crazy aunt Susan everyone thinks has one too many screws loose. The later note requires a little more finesse--its important that there is a balance between the patterns, one can be bigger or louder than the other, but both can't pull too much attention. Check out social media influencers or your favorite fashion mags for playful pattern mixing inspiration.
A lot of women have been told that after a certain age you should put away all of those short, backless, sleeveless, or low-cut pieces, but really its all about wearing those things sparingly and not all at once. If you still have amazing legs, you can wear something above the knee, just remember to keep it PG, keep the rest of your outfit mature, and keep the cut adult and not cutesy. You do not want to look like an adult dressing like the teenager who lives next door and still has an 11 P.M. curfew. While we're at it, for the love of all things Chanel, do not wear socks with sandals. It is never a good look, especially if those sandals are Crocs, in which case you should burn them immediately. There are plenty of other comfortable shoe options to choose from that won't put you in one of those magazine "What Not to Do" articles. You know the ones where the offender's eyes are blocked out by a harsh black stripe? I have a reoccurring nightmare that a friend is going to see me wearing something short, low-cut, and inappropriate paired with Crocs and socks in a magazine, and then immediately sign me up for an episode of What Not to Wear (though I wouldn't mind meeting Stacy and Clinton).
Last, but by no means least, we should take a moment to address the denim on denim question--you know, that Canadian tuxedo in the room. So here's the deal--it's absolutely ok to wear denim with other denim as long as you mix up the shades and weights of the denim pieces you're considering. A great distressed jean works really well with a more tailored denim shirt, and don't be afraid to add some luxe accessories like a statement heel and some bold jewelry. In fact, this would be a fantastic opportunity to add that leopard print clutch or little tuxedo jacket you've been jonesing to break out.
A lot of rules can be bent or broken, but there are a few we should all still heed. After all, we don't want complete fashion anarchy. There is something to be said about a little propriety. You definitely don't have to dress like a nun, but maybe keep the chainmail and mesh for private time, unlike the lovely lady below...
There are many more rules of fashion that seem a little antiquated for today's amazingly diverse, creative world. It's not just Carrie Bradshaw anymore, you can see women of all ages, with all different styles breaking them everywhere on social media. Look for your own inspiration anywhere from the streets to your favorite blogs--ours hopefully included.