8 Style Commandments To Live By In 2016

This year, we declared ourselves free from the rules of fashion. And yet, while we proudly identify as forward-thinking when it comes to our sartorial choices, we were surprised by how many of those outdated or straight-up-backwards maxims we used to obey. (Yep, there was a time when we feared unpretty trends and clashing prints.) The thing is, it’s often easier to stick to the same old behaviors and ways of dressing than it is to examine our closets with a critical eye and make the necessary, sometimes scary, changes. So with the redesigned Kia Optima as our inspiration, we're actively zeroing in on eight lingering style conventions that are overdue for an overhaul in 2016. We touched on these new tenets of modern fashion philosophy in varying ways over the past 12 months, so think of the following roundup as a mini manifesto to guide you in the year ahead. Hang it near your closet — it's one don't list that's a total do.
We've never been on board with dressing a certain way to accommodate our body shape or subscribing to the notion that the only style tips to follow are the ones that make you look thinner. So this year, we were thrilled to see slim-fit everything take a backseat to figure-liberating trends like wide legs and oversized everything. Come 2016, you can pretty much forget what you think about what's flattering for your shape: Bold is the new slimming.
With fashion's movement towards more modest silhouettes (see above), the early aughts' bare-it-all mentality has gradually been phased out by a more nuanced approach to sexiness. The most current-feeling version of a feelin'-yourself moment? Try subtle cutouts, discreet sheer panels, or sleek power shoes. If those don't do it for you, go by the enduring rule of thumb: Confidence is always sexy.
The minimalism trend is still on the rise. This year we saw capsule wardrobes gain hype and we went as far as testing out a decisions-eliminating daily uniform. But you don't have to become a Spartan to dress mindfully in 2016; just make the most of what you've got. Wear your party heels on the reg instead of just for celebrations, repeat pieces in creative ways, and only buy new things you can't live without. Here's to a year of #noregrets.
Androgyny in fashion is far from new, but the intensified spotlight on the transgender and gender-fluid communities in 2015 significantly challenged the parameters in which all of us get dressed. While several designers moved closer to an agender aesthetic, traditional menswear details and gender-neutral sportswear were solid mainstream trends. Similarly, a couple of badass octogenarians broke out as style leaders in both high fashion and streetwear, proving that age-appropriateness should never be a limitation. (As in, go ahead and wear kiddie-like costume jewelry or a retro paisley print if you please.) The takeaway: There's no better time to do you.
When it comes to being up on the origins and historical implications of references, traditions, and motifs borrowed from cultures outside of your own (especially in the name of style), do your homework. Plain and simple. As we hold the fashion industry and world accountable for misappropriation — such as an Africa-inspired runway show with few models of color and Halloween costumes that are downright offensive — we help set the standard for what's acceptable and enact change.
One of our favorite trends this past fall was the grandma heel, and we'll be hoofing around town in them well into the next 365. But even if the ugly-pretty shoe isn't your thing, it's time to take the hint that any heel that makes you wobble like a newborn giraffe isn't worth the immobility, nor the accompanying pain. The future is here, and it's practical. (So equip yourself with a coat that's actually warm and some slush-stomping boots while you're at it.)
A.k.a., do get weird. Often, the most impactful looks we spot each season go totally left of what's popular, from a handmade, block-printed tunic on the street to a frothy pink coup on the red carpet. In this moment of personal style as art, seize the opportunity to experiment, explore, and develop your own unique point of view. Then selectively adopt trends in a way that feels true to your look.
If the déjà-vu-like return of the '70s and the '90s this year taught us anything, it's that today's culottes and sneakers will almost inevitably come back around sometime tomorrow. To that end, ensuring the longevity of our clothing feels more relevant than ever. To start, kick off the New Year with a trip to the tailor; start reading the care labels in your clothes; and lay any pieces you no longer love to rest.

More from Styling Tips

R29 Original Series