Rules were meant to be broken. Regarding the subject of fashion, which is both a form of art and an every day necessity, rules are especially silly. Of course, there are tips and tricks to make one appear taller, leaner, and more polished. We should all learn them so we can look great when giving a presentation, going on a date, or attending an interview. We also need to make room in our closets for a bit of fun. As Picasso said, "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
1. Invest in Basics
I can hear the fashion world ranting as I type this. I used to spout this nonsense myself. My first issue with this piece of oft-repeated advice is its' inherent subjectivity. For some of my clients, a $200 piece would be considered a splurge; for others the cost of a single piece would need to be north of $1,000 for them to bat an eye. Second, we all need to stop saying we're investing in clothing. That is like saying you're investing in your car. The moment you take the tags off, clothing depreciates in value. Finally, the biggest concern I have about spending all our money on staples, is that these garments wear out more quickly than our special occasion clothing. The black pants you wear to the office, your favorite pair of jeans, that grey sweater that goes with everything--you will wash and wear those pieces so often that they will be incapable of lasting forever--no matter the quality. However, as an opponent of fast fashion, I would never recommend we buy cheap junk at a mass retailer. I suggest spending moderately on basics, so they may last a couple years. For garments like basic sweaters and work pants, I suggest spending $50-$200 per piece. My favorite basics are linked below.
2. Buy it in Every Color
We have all heard the adage, "If you love something, buy it every color". I say, stop at two. When you have more than two of the exact same shirt, you are simply splitting your wears. If you have too much of the same thing in your closet, you will ultimately find less value from everything you own. This is because those two shirts both fulfill the same purpose in your wardrobe. A third one would be unnecessary. There is an exception to this, and that is if you are an individual who prefers a self-imposed uniform a la Steve Jobs or Carrie Donovan.
3. No White after Labor Day
I live in Southern California, where rules like this one are especially odd. Many of us are still sporting sandals and sleeveless dresses right now--in January. Personally, I love how white pants pair with tan jackets, blush sweaters, and fair isle prints in true winter fashion. I wrote about this in another post--How to Wear Your White Jeans This Fall.
4. Sparkle is for Evening Only
Metallics are neutrals themselves, and writing off an entire category of neutrals for day wear will lead to a boring, limited wardrobe. Gold flats go with everything, unlike black. Many years ago, I had a bronze metallic leather jacket that went with everything and I still miss it. We would all do well with more sparkle and shine in our daily wardrobes.
5. Always Dress Your Shape
Sometimes, a garment will make your heart sing. It might not be the best article for your body type--it might not even be flattering. If it's comfortable, fabulous, and brings you joy, wear it. Dressing your shape is like wearing makeup, it is for those times when you want to look impeccable, but it is not required to be beautiful.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My style blog features practical fashion advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.