Fashion People Share The Most Bogus Style "Rules" They've Ever Heard

Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Minkoff/Paul Maffi.
Dos and don'ts, in and out, hot or not...No matter the nomenclature, the way we talk about fashion trends has long been defined by binaries. These opposing categories send a very clear, BS-filled message: Some things are okay to wear; others are very much not. Never mind that these "rules" are constantly in flux, often flip-flopping the same look between cool and uncool from one season to the next. We've already decided that they're bogus, but some have stuck with us, often because of how seemingly arbitrary they are. No white after Labor Day, anyone?

We asked a slew of industry tastemakers to discuss the unsolicited advice they've been given over the years — and how they eschewed absurd style mandates. Ahead, 24 creators we look up to— including Rebecca Minkoff, Norma Kamali, Rachel Antonoff, Denise Bidot, and Kate Foley — each share that one fashion-related "rule" that they realized was, well, crap. (Spoiler alert: "You do you" stands the test of time.)

September is typically a time when fashion publications definitively tell you what’s in, and what’s out. Fuck that. We’re dedicating the next couple of weeks to celebrate all the iconoclasts, independent thinkers, and individuals with unique personal styles who’d rather say Fuck The Fashion Rules than follow them.
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Photo: Courtesy of Karen Walker.
Karen Walker, Designer
"There are so many different 'rules' for what eyewear suits what face shapes, but I’m not a rules person when it comes to choosing sunglasses. My number one tip is to just have fun with them. It all comes down to your style and personality: If they feel good and [make you feel] exclamation marks when you try them on, then they’re the ones for you."
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Photo: Courtesy of Muse Management.
Denise Bidot, Model & Actress
"One of the most bogus rules I've ever heard is that a woman must always be on-trend to be considered fashionable. It's ridiculous to think that every new trend is going to work on every body type. But a woman isn’t less fashionable because she doesn’t want to jump on the ripped-jeans or black-choker bandwagon. Find your fashion uniform and rock it: If you love black T-shirts, don’t be afraid to fill your closet with black T-shirts. Dress it up with a bold statement necklace or down with a baseball cap and jeans. My personal fashion rule is that I wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear me."
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Photo: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue.
Roopal Patel, SVP Fashion Director, Saks Fifth Avenue
"I've never been a fan of 'No white after Labor Day.' I first heard this when I began my career in retail; the buying team refused to buy white pieces for the stores after Labor Day. I wondered, 'Who made this up?' For every woman that follows the rules, there is another that doesn’t. One day, I simply chose to wear white after Labor Day — it was still summer and the sun was shining. Now, I love to wear white jeans year-round, even into the middle of winter. I also love a white gown any time of the year, as it can truly be a strong, breathtaking statement."
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Photo: Courtesy of Marysia.
Marysia Reeves, Designer, Marysia
"That swimwear belongs near the water. I love wearing my swimsuits with skirts and treat them as bodysuits. No one seems to look twice."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alyssa Lau.
Alyssa Lau, Blogger, Ordinary People
"Any fashion rule is incredulous, in my opinion. I’ve read too many magazines (and even had the misfortune of watching Fashion Police once) telling women what they can’t and shouldn't wear according to their body type and recent trends. But fashion shouldn’t be a strict guidebook: It's creative expression, and there should be no limit to what you [can] wear!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Wildfang.
Emma McIlroy, CEO, Wildfang
"As a kid, I was always told I wasn't allowed to shop in the boys' section. I idolized my two big brothers...and that rule made no sense to me. I didn't understand why my genitalia meant I was only allowed to shop from one half of the department store. Plus, the boys' stuff was always way cooler — it had bolder graphics and was much less restrictive. Fast-forward 20 years: I started Wildfang, a menswear-inspired fashion brand with the sole intention of stealing styles from the boys!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Lonely Lingerie.
Helene Morris, Founder, Lonely Lingerie
"I remember as a child hearing that bras shouldn't be seen, from the women that would fit my mother at our local lingerie store. My grandmother was an amazing seamstress, and she handmade amazing lingerie pieces — I remember thinking how sad it would be to cover them up and have them not be seen. It's very fitting that many of our Lonely pieces are made to be seen peeking out from under a dress or through a sheer shirt; some of our styles are even worn alone. I love that our customers are adventurous with their dressing and have the confidence to wear pieces their own way, whether seen or unseen."
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Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Minkoff/Paul Maffi.
Rebecca Minkoff, Designer
"Early on, I was told not to directly speak to bloggers or to my consumer. My retail partners thought I was dirtying myself, and that I needed to be more exclusive and less accessible. There was no way I was going to lose the dialogue I had with our girl and I wasn’t willing to be flexible on that. I wanted her to know I cared and I was listening — I wasn’t going anywhere."
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Photo: Courtesy of Sincerely Tommy.
Kai Avent-deLeon, Owner, Sincerely Tommy
"Don't wear white after Labor Day — I mean, it's such a popular one, but also one of the most absurd rules. White is my power color, and there's nothing like a good all-white outfit in the winter or fall. I'm a sucker for a white/ivory high-waist loose pant with a matching tank or long-sleeve shirt."
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Photo: Courtesy of J.Crew.
Somsack Sikhounmuong, Head Of Women's Design, J.Crew
"Considering the number of rules I've followed and regretted — and the number of rules I didn’t follow and didn’t regret — there should be a rule about fashion rules! It’s fashion. The minute you believe one thing one season, your eye changes. You see people try new things and you quickly become a convert. For example: Sequins for night and denim only for day are two rules I say a resounding 'booo' to!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Brother Vellies.
Aurora James, Designer, Brother Vellies
"Not wearing socks with sandals. Is there a point in wearing sandals without socks?"
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Photo: Courtesy of Naomi Shimada.
Naomi Shimada, Model, Filmmaker & Writer
"I remember when I was a young teen, I picked up a copy of Cosmopolitan and read in their 'slimming' dressing tips one should always steer away from color and loud prints. I remember thinking how sad a life of wearing no print and all black sounded to me. I was so confused. I still am to this day... As long as you feel confident and powerful in what you're wearing, you exude that! So break all the rules, always."
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Photo: Courtesy of Houghton.
Katharine Polk, Designer, Houghton
"I have always heard that you can't wear white after Labor Day, but Houghton is all about white year-round. There is nothing chicer than a simple white dress, so this is a major rule-breaker for me. Everything I design can be worn everyday, or on your wedding day... White is extremely flattering when tailored properly, especially a crisp, high-waisted pantsuit."
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Photo: Courtesy of Hearst.
Chrissy Rutherford, Senior Digital Fashion Editor, Harper's Bazaar
"I think one of the craziest style rules I've ever read is that there are certain things one shouldn't wear after 30. Many fashion magazines have written stories on this topic, usually including miniskirts, cutoff shorts, overalls, and crop tops on the list. If I actually listened to those articles, I'd have to throw out half my closet this year! While I may not wear these items in the same way I did when I was in my early 20s, I don’t believe that age needs to dictate what we wear."
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Photo: Courtesy of Mercedes Salazar.
Mercedes Salazar, Designer
"The rule of 'less is more' — I've heard it so many times that I can't even recall the first time I heard it. It has always been on my mind, and even though I've tried to follow it in many aspects of my life, when it comes to my designs, there's a more powerful energy controlling me from above that makes me mix anything with everything. Creatively, when my mind connects with my soul, I can mix materials and colors freely. With the Fiesta earrings collection, I followed my instinct and the result was 'more is more beautiful.'"
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Photo: Courtesy of Vestiaire Collective/Mark Iantosca.
Kate Foley, Contributing Fashion Director, Vestiaire Collective
"That navy and black should never be worn together. I thought it was a pointless thing to say and didn't agree with it — I think that those colors are beautiful together."
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Photo: Courtesy of Bibhu Mohapatra.
Bibhu Mohapatra, Designer
"I grew up in India, and white is something you wear all year round. When I heard [the no white after Labor Day] rule during my first summer in the United States, I thought it was absurd! I think white has a year-round appeal and usage, especially in the winter. It's chic and super elegant if styled right."
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Photo: Courtesy of Marissa Rosenblum.
Marissa Rosenblum, Senior Editorial Director, Barneys New York
"Putting in many years as a fashion editor, I've worked on my fair share of 'tips for your body type'-themed stories. I know the best silhouettes and most flattering cuts for any shape — pear, apple, pineapple, whatever fruit one may choose to identify with. Even armed with the sure knowledge that without a platform shoe, a wide-leg pant will do virtually zip to make me appear taller, the honest truth is I don't care that I'm a petite pear with a curvy bottom: I'm happiest in oversized tops, above-the-ankle-grazing hemlines, and glorious billowy fabrics."
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Photo: Courtesy of Tanya Taylor.
Tanya Taylor, Designer
"Worst rule: to not mix prints! I heard this first when I was a kid growing up in the minimalist '90s, and prints didn't have power. I broke it [first] because I looked up to women like Miss Havisham [from Great Expectations], who expressed personality through print-mixing. I break it all the time [now] because I think it creates something fresh when you put two unexpected things together."
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Photo: Courtesy of Mari Giudicelli/Zoe Ghertner.
Mari Giudicelli, Designer & Model
"I can't really think of any quote specifically, but there's something that some fashion people say that bothers me and that I don't follow at all — to not wear denim to the office. I think it's absolutely ridiculous: If you do your job well, it doesn't matter what you're wearing. My first reaction to it was to obey; then, I realized that if you style it with a nice blouse or with good accessories, it becomes something totally acceptable."
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Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.
Norma Kamali, Designer
"Personal style prevails as the expression of who we want to present, and is as important as what we have to say and what we accomplish as women. Every style has been proven outdated: skirt lengths, for example. The practice of even having style rules is outdated, too."
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Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Antonoff.
Rachel Antonoff, Designer
"That red and pink don't go together. I don't remember exactly where I heard this from or from who, but I know I feel like it's a fashion rhetoric I've heard countless times. I don't get it! Red with pink is one of my most favorite color combos, in so many different shades."
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Photo: Courtesy of Thakoon/Josh Olins.
Thakoon Panichgul, Designer, Thakoon
"It's as simple as 'don't mix prints' — I think that's a bogus fashion rule. In fact, any good trends that come out now and going forward are always about breaking rules. I think that's the most important thing, to not listen to [those rules]."
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