The Fashion Rules That Aren't Relevant Anymore

We'll be the first to admit that Refinery29 is a pretty strange place to work as far as clothing is concerned. We think a creative, adventurous outfit is a sign of a creative, adventurous person, and not an unprofessional one. We think that wearing something no one else is wearing is a thing worthwhile of praise, and conversely, if you don't care about your clothes (which some people here don't!), that's just fine, too. Pretty much anything goes here, and once you've had a taste of that kind of freedom, it can be hard to accept anything else.
Maybe that's why we have so little patience for fashion rules. Anything that stifles, or assumes that we all want to look the same way — it's like, can we just live? Especially during this week when most fashion publications are putting out their September issues chock full of the rules and guidelines they're living by for the next year, we'd rather celebrate individuality and personal choices than a set of "approved" trends — especially not those old-as-dust fashion rules we grew up hearing about. To kick off our second annual F*ck The Fashion Rules week, we had 29 Refinery29 staffers, both past and present, talk about the fashion rules they love to ignore.
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1 of 29
Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take off one thing.
“You know that rule? Always take one thing off before you leave the house? Yep — that’s not for me. More is more, in my opinion, and I like to pile it on.” — Erin
2 of 29
Don’t mix prints.
“I’ve absorbed from magazines and catalogues that clashing prints are a huge no-no. If you wear stripes, you can only pair them with a plain clothing item or accessory of the same color or wear another striped item that is of similar print and color scheme. Boring. I wear everything with everything all the time because life is too short to worry about polka dots with floral.” — Liat
3 of 29
Women should wear women’s clothes.
“To dress in 'women's' clothing. Clothing doesn't have genitals, so why is it gendered?” — Ash
4 of 29
No white after Labor Day.
"I’ve always ignored the ‘no white after Labor Day’ rule. It always bothered some people SO much (especially some of my sorority sisters in college) when I insisted on wearing, say, white jeans in the middle of winter. I can't help it that they look so good with black booties!" — Sophie
5 of 29
Don’t mix blue and black.
“I love mixing blue and black, even though I know that's an old no-no. I love a navy top and a black patterned bottom (I'm wearing it today!). I think they look great together, despite the ‘rule.’” — Molly
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6 of 29
Don’t show your bra straps.
“My bra straps are ALWAYS showing, and I’ve always been told to keep them hidden. My grandma actually sewed little hooks to all my tank tops one summer to try and fix the problem. But, I honestly don’t care if my straps are showing, and it gives me an excuse to show off all the pretty bras I have. In fact, I think the look is kind of cool right now. VPL 4TW!” — Emily
7 of 29
Skirts go around your waist.
“Wearing my clothes incorrectly. I wear skirts as shirts (and vice versa), headbands as necklaces, necklaces wrapped around as bracelets, and I cut dresses into shirts. I love playing around with my clothes!” — Elizabeth
8 of 29
Dress to please your partner.
“I’ve always been into wearing black and neutrals, but when I met my color-loving husband, he told me I should consider adding more color to my wardrobe. I did my best and bought a bunch of colorful stuff, but I hated it! None of the colorful clothing I bought ever felt comfortable or natural to me at all. After a couple of years, I started phasing it out and made a decision to only buy things I love. Now, I feel way more confident in most of the items in my wardrobe, and I think that's probably way more attractive than dressing a certain way to make a dude happy. The most important rule I broke: caring about that in the first place!” — Anna
9 of 29
Dress according to your body type.
“I feel like, for a long time, the ‘rule’ was to dress in a way that was ‘figure flattering,’ and ‘make the most’ of my ‘shape.’ (Also, can we talk about how fruit-based shape approximations are bad for women in general?) The idea is, of course, to highlight ‘good’ things about your body — a small waist, nice shoulders, nice buns — and hide the ‘bad’ things. Fuck that. Not only would that rule have left me in A-line dresses forever (oh, cruel fate), it's also just plain wrong. When I started opening myself up to other shapes, bending and breaking the rule, I found out that there were no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things about my body. There were just clothes that I liked and feel good in. — Elizabeth
10 of 29
Highlight your waist.
“A fashion rule that I LOVE to ignore is the one that tells me to ‘cinch my waist.’ I'm a tall curvy girl with an hourglass shape, but I prefer to wear fashion sacks. Even when I purchased my most recent one, the sales clerk told me it would look super cute if I BELTED the dress. No thank you. Sacks4life.” — Sara
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11 of 29
Don’t wear black with brown.
“Is there any logic to not putting these super-neutrals together? They each, individually, match with EVERYTHING, so why the hell can't they match with each other? A black outfit with a camel-brown leather purse or shoes is such a classic, cool-looking combo — you will never make me stop.” — Laura
12 of 29
Don’t wear horizontal stripes.
“Stripes! When I was younger, my mom and aunts said that women with a larger bust weren't supposed to wear horizontal stripes for fear of looking larger. I totally ignore that rule now. I think stripes are killer, as are my boobs. Wearing a horizontal-stripe top as I type!” — Anissa
13 of 29
Wear clothes that fit.
“When I was younger, my older sister used to tell me I dressed like a bag lady. I like really baggy, drapey clothes, and she told me I had 'no body' when I wore those outfits. She always told me I should wear something tight on bottom or top, so you could ‘see my body shape.’ I like having an amorphous body shape in clothes and like how drapey cuts show the body without hugging it or squeezing it tight like clingier fabrics and cuts.” — Samantha
14 of 29
Moms should be modest.
“That we moms, i.e. sexless black holes where trends go to die, shouldn't wear shorts, crop tops, insert any vaguely revealing clothing item here.” — Amelia
15 of 29
Women with small chests should fake it with ruffles.
“That we women with small boobs should try to invent curves out of nowhere via RUFFLES. Especially swimsuits.”
— Jessica
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16 of 29
Don’t mix gold and silver jewelry.
“Mixing gold and silver jewelry! The majority of my jewelry is gold, so when I do have a silver piece that I want to throw in the mix, I think it looks cool.” — Arianna
17 of 29
You can’t wear heels if you’re tall.
“Wearing heels. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me why I wear heels when I'm already tall... So what if I'm tall? I spent so many early years feeling self-conscious about being taller than everyone, and now it's just the opposite. I feel really at home in my height...and heels help!” — Christene
18 of 29
Conversely: Short women should wear heels.
“I feel like it's been engrained in my brain that because I'm 5-foot-1, I'm supposed to wear heels all the time to look taller or ‘elongate’ my legs. But guess what? My legs don't need elongating — I'll wear heels when I want to wear heels (but never strictly for height-enhancing purposes), and I'm definitely going keep wearing my slides, sneakers, and flats with pride, even if that means having to get a lot of pants hemmed to do so.” — Alyssa
19 of 29
T-shirts can’t be dressy.
“That T-shirts have to be casual. I feel like that's such an R29 quirk: You can dress up a basic T-shirt in a big way with bottoms (a fancy skirt), accessories, a cool jacket etc… I love my vintage pajama T-shirt with a skirt and heels!” — Nikki
20 of 29
Oversized clothes are unflattering.
“My best friend keeps joking that she doesn't know what I look like ‘under there’ because the proportions in my wardrobe have gotten so oversized, but I LOVE it! It feels freeing and even more feminine and sexy than tight clothing does because it's so freeing.” — Anne
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21 of 29
Pear shapes should stick to one silhouette.
“Since I have a small upper body and an, ahem, sizeable derrière, I've always been told that I should wear tight-on-top, loose-on-bottom. And yet I love skinny jeans and boxy or flowing tops." — Lilli
22 of 29
Everyone should save up for investment purchases. “I’ve always hated the idea of ‘investment’ purchases. Like, am I missing out on something integral to the human experience if the idea of spending a few thousand dollars on a handbag is absurd to me? I love my ‘grown-up’ bag that fits my work gear, my workout gear, and all my adulting supplies, and I bought it for $50 at the mall. I don’t have plans to save up for a designer handbag when the one I have is perfect and matches with everything I have — that money is going straight into my savings.” — Ray
23 of 29
A good outfit should make you look thinner.
“I’ve always been told that I should always dress to look skinnier. Most of the time, my clothes make me look wider, shorter, and rounder, and I routinely buy clothes that are too ‘big’ for me and in the ‘wrong’ size, because I like how that fits more. I can't tell you how much it bothers some people, especially sales associates, but that's what I like, and I'll continue to shop out of my size.” — Connie
24 of 29
Leggings should only be worn to the gym.
“I used to be self-conscious wearing leggings when I knew that I wasn’t going to the gym…but I’m totally fine with it now. Athleisure is the best thing that’s ever happened to fashion!” — Natalie
25 of 29
Short women shouldn’t wear long lengths.
“Short women can’t pull off silhouettes that fall below the knee because they’ll look shorter. I’m 5-foot-2, petite, and curvy, and I stuck by the fashion rule that flashing more leg would make me seem taller. So I bought A LOT of miniskirts. I guess Joan Halloway's style on Mad Men inspired my hemlines to take the plunge. I love the way this longer silhouette creates some mega-curves by nipping in at both my waist and knees. I also feel sexier than in a miniskirt because I know I'm not using a hemline to hide my height.” — Kriti
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26 of 29
Asian women shouldn’t wear "Asian" trends.
“For the longest time, I shied away from things that were obviously ‘Asian’ because I didn’t want to be that Asian girl wearing a red silk dress. My other Chinese and Korean friends, too, would ask each other if things made them look too ‘Asian,’ which was really hard to avoid in the ‘90s, when Chinese characters, dragon motifs, and Mandarin collars were on everything. These days, though, I like wearing clothes that speak to my heritage. Even if other people consider them ‘trends’ (which is so annoying, and is a whole other conversation), I see it as an opportunity to celebrate a part of myself that I’ve denied myself in the past.” — Julia
27 of 29
It’s bad luck to wear a ring on your left ring finger before you’re engaged.
“I regularly wear this heirloom ring on my left hand ring finger — and I’m not engaged. It’s the only finger that it fits on, but I also like how it looks on that finger, especially how it balances out the other jewelry I wear on my hand. It’s annoying when people tell me it’s bad luck, but as far as I see it, I’m the one who ended up with the awesome ring, so I’m already coming out ahead!” — Ana
28 of 29
Wear seasonally appropriate footwear.
“I wear boots year round, even when it's hot, because I love them and because they make me feel like ‘me.’ I could care less when people ask what's wrong with me all summer." — David
29 of 29
Wear a belt if you’re showing your belt loops.
“If you’re going to tuck your shirt into any kind of pants with belt loops, you MUST wear a belt. Fuuuuck that.” — Karen
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