Stylish Misbehaving

November 13, 2005 • Magazine

Stylish Misbehaving

Stylish Misbehaving

Mon, 2005-11-14 01:00

Rules are made to be broken.Especially when it comes to fashion rules, which is after all, a bit of an oxymoron. You’ve heard it before and it really is true: the most fashionable women are those with their own style. I’ve been bucking fashion rules for years. At age five, I refused to wear the undershirts my mother put on me in the winter and used my slips for dance routines instead of as undergarments. So if you live by the below rules I’m giving you permission to break them. We have to follow enough rules in our lifetime (chew with your mouth closed, don’t cut in line, address your parents’ friends with Mr. and Mrs., etc.) so live a little, eh?

Thou shalt not wear white after Labor Day.
This custom can be traced back to the late 19th century when it was thought that white protects less against cold than other colors (because white refracts light). It was also a rule given to people entering the middle class to help them better fit in. Times have changed. Have you ever worn winter white wool pants? It’s sumptuous. Even for us up here in the arctic winters of Chicago, we can and should wear white even after the summer has ended. The key is to learn to love winter white. Winter white is richer with more depth than the bleach whites you see in the summer. If it’s not currently in your winter wardrobe, ease yourself in with a winter white matching cashmere scarf and gloves set. Once you’re more comfortable, make winter white a staple by investing in chunky sweaters and modern tweed skirts in white’s spectrum of colors from ivory to French vanilla.

Thou shalt not mix black and brown.
Speaking of colors, we need some more here. And by here I mean Chicago, where we tend to dress a little monochromatically. Now I know this isn’t Palm Beach or southern California but with the amount of gray days we have we should do a little to brighten things up. So not only am I suggesting you — gasp — try a brown leather jacket with black pants, I’m daring you to throw a third color in the mix. Try brown, gray and green together or go for black, camel and red. Suddenly your personal style will feel refreshed and vibrant.

Thy purse shalt match thy belt which shalt match thou shoes.
If you should be brave enough to wear three colors together you’re going to find that this rule is impossible to adhere to, which is a good thing. Matchy-matchiness is a thing of the past. You can wear a turquoise belt with brown shoes and carry a metallic gold bag. It is not blasphemy; it will be okay.

Thou shalt wear nylons when showing thy legs.
Nylon was invented during World War II and used initially in toothbrush bristles and later in parachutes. Though it dramatically changed women’s fashion, it also is responsible for fashion no-nos like visible runs and hosiery with open-toe shoes. I am aware that there are certain workplace restrictions when it comes to bare legs, but please know that outside of work you do not, I repeat, do NOT have to wear nylons. On the other hand, there is an array of fashionable hosiery this season such as tasteful fishnet, graphic circles and floral patterns that when worn properly, spice up any outfit.

A wise person once said “always know the rules so you can break them�. Now you know these fashion rules so I charge you: go and break them.

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