Follow College Fashion on Twitter!

7 Fashion Rules You Should Break


Victoria Beckham wearing a White Coat
Victoria Beckham in winter white

Everyone has heard at least one old fashion rule. Have you ever been told not to wear white after labor day, or that your jewelry metals must match?

If you’re like me, you grew up hearing these from your mom or grandma whenever you wore something they didn’t like. You thought your outfit was fine, but one of the rules probably made you rethink it. Many of you may still believe one or two of them, because you’ve heard them so many times.

Believe it or not, most of those fashion rules are completely outdated and false!

As someone who loves fashion but doesn’t believe in old-fashioned rules, I say it’s time to put some of these style myths to rest once and for all. It’s the 21st century, and grandma’s fashion rules just don’t apply anymore.

Here’s the CF list of fashion rules you’re allowed (and encouraged) to break:

1. Never wear white after labor day.

This fashion rule is probably the most pervasive of them all. Everyone’s heard it, and surprisingly, lots of people still believe it’s true.

Newsflash: you can absolutely wear white after labor day! White clothing, coats, bags, and even shoes are 100% allowed during the winter months, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Unless you have an extremely conservative workplace, you should embrace the idea of wearing a “winter white.” It’s a fresh, fun break from the dark shades we usually wear in winter.

InStyle magazine did a great feature on fashion rules the stars love to break. In it, Rachel Bilson sounded off on the white after labor day rule, saying “Forget the old rules. I love white all year round. It’s cooler to wear it when you aren’t supposed to.”

For another star example, check out the picture of Victoria Beckham above. She’s a world-renowned fashionista who’s known for her impeccable style! She doesn’t follow the white after labor day rule and neither should you.

2. Shoes and bags must always match.

Ugh, this rule is sooo 1950’s. I’m honestly wondering if anyone out there still believes this one.

In case you did think this myth was true, let me reassure you.. it’s not! You don’t have to match your shoes to your bag – that’s so boring. You shoes and bag need to go with your outfit, but there’s no reason they need to match each other. So long as they work with your outfit, they can be any colors you want.

Let’s be realistic – can you imagine what a pain it would be to match all of your bags to all of your shoes? You’d probably have only one or two combos you could make, and even then, it probably wouldn’t all match perfectly. There are so many shades of each color!

Really, it’s all way too much of a hassle. Forget about matching and start thinking about what goes together and what goes with your outfit.

3. Never wear black with brown or navy.

Rachel Bilson in a navy blue dress with a black bag

This rule is one of the most pervasive old fashion rules out there, and it’s just not true at all!

Here’s the deal: black, brown, and navy are all neutrals. This means that you can wear them with pretty much anything, including each other!

I love the look of a navy blue dress with black shoes, or a black dress with light brown or nude shoes. Anything goes with these colors, and you should feel free to mix ‘em however you want.

Recently, Rihanna made a public statement about this rule:

“The idea of not wearing brown and black together seems so dated. The other day I wore a black T-shirt, black Nobody jeans, a brown leopard-print belt by Dolce & Gabbana, and brown Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, and it looked awesome. And I also love to mix prints.”

For another example of a celebrity breaking this rule, see the photo of Rachel Bilson above, mixing navy, black, AND brown. Her outfit looks adorable and fashion-forward, proving that this rule is really just a dumb myth.

4. Never wear red if you’re a redhead.

This one might have some basis in reality, but it only applies to a few people in certain situations.

It’s true that some redheads don’t look their best in some shades of red, but it’s completely false that they can’t wear red at all. If you have red hair, you need to be extra careful to choose reds that work with your natural coloring. The wrong shade can look too intense, and can clash with your skin. It’s as simple as that. (By the way, this same thing could be said for EVERY hair color!)

At the end of the day, if you know the best colors for you, you can avoid shades of red that don’t work, and wear the ones that do. The idea that you can’t wear red at all is completely FALSE!

5. You can’t wear suede or leather in summer.

Another false one. Really, who comes up with this stuff?

I don’t know about you, but I would be LOST without my leather bag in the summer. Most of the world’s best shoes and purses are made out of leather, so it really makes no sense that we wouldn’t be able to wear them year round. Also, leather jackets are such a hot trend. It would be a shame to have to put them in the closet for 3 months!

If you’re really worried about this one, just pick lighter weight fabrics and go with lighter colors of suede & leather for the summer months. Then switch back to your regular stuff for winter.

But really… the next time someone tries to convince you this rule is true, just laugh and ask if you can borrow their most expensive designer bag for summer, since they won’t be using it. Then see what they have to say..

6. Never mix metals in your wardrobe.

This rule basically says that you should never wear gold and silver jewelry together, or god forbid, wear something that has both gold and silver on it! How boring.

Nowadays, it’s safe to forget all about it. With all the cute jewelry and metallic accessories out there, it would be a shame to only wear them with some pieces. Metallics are the new neutrals, and you can wear them with whatever you want. Don’t be afraid to layer gold, silver and bronze bangles together, or wear silver flats when you have gold earrings on. It’s totally up to you and not wrong at all!

Of course, some people have a preference for one type of jewelry over the other. For example, gold doesn’t look good on my cool-toned pale skin, so I only wear silver and white gold jewelry. It’s okay to have a preference, but don’t ever think that you can’t wear what you want because it’s not “allowed”.

7. Never wear tights with open-toed shoes.

Now that tights and peep-toe shoes are both in style, women everywhere are happily ignoring this rule.

That’s right, you can totally wear tights with open-toe shoes. Just tuck the seam of the tights under your toes, and make sure it doesn’t show. It’s a great way to get more mileage out of your wardrobe, because you can wear your peep-toe heels in winter!

Your Thoughts?

What’s your opinion on the fashion rules? Do you think they’re lame & outdated, or would you never be caught dead in navy blue and black?

Let everyone know what you think by leaving a comment!

Posted on on October 2, 2008 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , ,

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

56 Responses to “7 Fashion Rules You Should Break”

  1. 1
    October 2nd, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Those fashion rules are just plain silly, imho. And what’s that one about ‘blue and green should not be seen’ or something like that?

    These are the sort of rules that people remember and are afraid to break, but meanwhile there are people showing up to class in pj’s, graduation in flip flops and college singing auditions in tube tops sans bras. Those are the real fashion crimes!

  2. 2
    October 2nd, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I love how much more frequently we’re getting articles, and amazing ones at that. Great work Zephyr!

  3. 3
    October 2nd, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    The “grad in flipflops” comment is cringe-worthy. Gross. Especially when they are platform flipflops. It boggles my mind.

  4. 4
    October 2nd, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Meg – I totally agree, I think we need some new fashion rules! no trackpants in public, no leggings-as-pants, and there should definitely be something about girls over a certain cup size must wear a bra… haha do I sound mean?

  5. 5
    October 2nd, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I hated this list…its so outdated…thank god well the fashion gods we ain’t need to follow these old rules.

    I love the tights and peep toe trend…it makes an outfit look so fab and legs very slendered.

    good job hun

  6. 6
    October 2nd, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Oh, so trueeee.
    Except the whole black and brown thing is something I am just now getting use to.
    It has taken me forever to be able to mix those two together and to me, it just still doesn’t look 100% right. But if I find the right combo I’m sure I will fall in love with it.
    R.Bilson is pulling it off majorly, though!

  7. 7
    October 3rd, 2008 at 12:52 am

    great post!! i agree with all of them 100%. and as for mixing shoes and bag colors: i make it a point to usually NOT have them match.. i dunno it just seems pretty bland, unless both are black.

  8. 8
    October 3rd, 2008 at 1:40 am

    great post! i especially break the rule about no tights with open toed shoes. with the fall coming in and chillier weather making breaking out the tights… i mean i dont wanna leave my open toed shoes alone all winter.

    and i think black & brown is awesome… and brown and navy…. and navy and black… i actually love wearing those pairs all the time.

  9. 9
    October 3rd, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Great post! These fashion rules ARE silly and outdated and definitely need to be broken. The only one that I have a hard time with is mixing navy with black. I just recently bought a pair of great black leather boots but I’m still a little wary about wearing them with dark denim and stuff. Thanks for the great posts & keep them coming!

  10. 10
    October 3rd, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Haha, thanks for this article. :)

  11. 11
    October 3rd, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I was wondering you see Victoria Beckham she always match bag to shoes I love that style but realistic cant happen. My question is can you help me I saw the star from Ugly Betty wearing a purple dress with torquoise can you do something with colors that go well. I have olive skin tone if there is a website how to mix and match colors thanks. love your site

  12. 12
    October 4th, 2008 at 1:05 am

    Actually i have a different openion, I think fashion doesnt need any rules! nothing at all and there should definitely something new everytime. but most of all its all about girls at large.
    Comments plz

  13. 13
    October 4th, 2008 at 10:09 am

    first time commenting, been reading this blog for a while, as, if just started college, and wanted to say you do a great job. this article was great, and so true, i mix gold and silver all the time, and only ever get compliments. i agree with a pervious comment, should set some new rules. :)

  14. 14
    October 4th, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I love this post! Your articles are always so well written, Zephyr!
    Great job!
    I’ve always struggled with these rules. Especially the gold/silver one. Now that I have a silver wedding ring to wear all the time, I’ve found myself having to mix them if I ever want to wear gold again!
    Here’s a post all about mixing peep-toes and tights: Tights With Peep-Toe Heels!

  15. 15
    October 5th, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Nice post–I especially like the comment about white after labor day.

    Any chance you can do a post on fashion rules not to break? =)

  16. 16
    October 5th, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    awesome article zephyr! working at an accessories counter in a retail store, nothing bothered me more than when people had to have bracelet, earrings, and necklace that all matched perfectly. Some people don’t realize it’s okay to break the rules and mix and match. :)


  17. 17
    October 7th, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I really like this article. I never really followed any of these rules. The only rule that I see that I some what follow (and I didn’t even know it was a rule) is black with brown or navy. When it comes to layering, I wouldn’t wear a black shirt with a dark navy/brown belt because the whole point for wearing the belt on top of the shirt is so that you can see the belt and a lighter color belt is easier to see. I would wear it with a tan or bright blue colored belt instead. There def needs to be rules though….the things I have seen ppl wear :( lol

  18. 18
    October 7th, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Those rules are things that I never understood the reason for so I therefore did not follow them. I wear black and navy together all the time. Makes a kick ass suit for work! As for the No red for the redhead thing…give me a break. I am a redhead and some of my best dresses and outfits are red.

    Yay for not following rules!

  19. 19
    October 8th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I loved this post!!! I always was a little confused by a lot of those myths. (And yes! my mom told me about a lot of them!!!) Thank you for dissolving my fears of ‘breaking the rules’, which were stupid rules in the first place! I randomly found this blog and I love it! Keep the awesome advice coming! xoxo

  20. 20
    October 11th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I still live by no tights and open toed shoes, but I’ve gotten over the brown, black, navy rule. If it looks good, wear it!

  21. 21
    November 10th, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Until recently, I too was a huge believer in thinking that it was a fashion no, no to wear white after labor day. As a matter of fact, it was not until after reading your blog that I actually found out that it is ok to wear white after labor day. Thanks so much for this blog article because it really helped to clarify a lot of tips on fashion!!

  22. 22
    December 5th, 2008 at 12:45 am

    I love tights with open toed. it’s perfect for when I want to wear a dress in the fall or winter cause my legs get cold :p

  23. 23
    February 2nd, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Actually, now that everyone has thoroughly dropped it, I find it very refreshing to have matching shoes ans purse or maybe say even a belt. One of my fave outfits is a pair of scarlet mid heels, purse and sometimes wide belt I wear with a white, cotton, fifties style dress in the summer, and a wool sheath in the winter, and quite a few other dresses! Matchy-matchy can be cool!!!! But all the other stuff is definitely best broken. I suppose if you wear navy and black you want to make sure there is enough of a color difference so it isn’t hard to tell if they are the same color or not. Otherwise it looks like you tried to wear two black things but got it wrong.

  24. 24
    February 2nd, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Some one should re do this article but put in the new “RULES” that we are told never to break. Here are fashion guru rules I think are stupid;
    1. Petite women shouldn’t wear capri pants or skinny jeans. I think that is just silly. Im not very tall (Im 5’5″) and not terribly leggy, and I wear capri and ankle length jeans all the time. They are great in the summer. I realize there is the theory that it breaks up the leg line, but it just is not so. In fact baring your ankle with colorful, pretty flats can very much bring the eye to a thin part of the leg and give an illusion of height. Audrey Hepburn was very petite, as is Natalie Portman, and they look divine in that silhouette.
    2. You should do everything you can to minimize your ASSet. The gurus all tell you to wear dark washed denim, to avoid whiskered jeans, and embelishments. I think it can look quite GOOD to emphasize the curves. I for one like to wear jeans with a tiny bit of whiskering and a lighter wash to give more curve, and I am very curvy.
    Its best to use the mirror, your eyes, and you own brain!

  25. 25
    March 2nd, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Old rules, but works!
    As we know that nowadays aren’t any rules :)

  26. 26
    July 14th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    True, these are all stupid and should be broken! Too many times I’ve been shopping with a Barbie-esque friend of mine and picked up black and blue things together, and she’s said “you can’t wear those; mixing black and blue is so bad.” Um, why? If that was the case, you’d never be able to wear denim jeans with black!

    Although, I will say that I think tights-and-peep-toes can be done very, very badly, especially with skin-tone tights in the summer, because nothing says ‘retirement home’ like that sight of the seam throught the peep-toe. Be very careful not to look like a pensioner!!

    ………..not wearing white after Labor Day??? People STILL do that? What is this, the 1950’s? :-)

  27. 27
    August 1st, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I agree with all of them except the last one, I will never wear tights with open-toed shoes. I think that if it is too cold to wear sandals you should definitely not wear them until its warm enough. Its just my opinion though

  28. 28
    August 22nd, 2009 at 12:08 am

    man i tried to convince my Boyfriend that Black and Brown should not Be worn together and my Best friend Backed me up…… Ooops….. lol Good fashion tips!!!! :D

  29. 29
    September 3rd, 2009 at 12:10 am

    I’m not a big fan of the opentoed shoes w/ tights, but maybe that’s just me. IDK. I personally have never been able to pull it off.

  30. 30
    November 23rd, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    These rules are so out dated. And my poor mother, who is beautiful as heck, still believes them. hahh i tried to wear white the other day and it was snowing outside and she about wet her pants and she made me change. it was kinda depressing. i think we need white especially in the winter because it brightens the dark and sad days. winter time is just depressing to begin with and white makes it bright and makes you feel like shining! its beautiful! we need to be reminded that dark and sad days are going to end at some point and summer will come back. Its the same concept with leather. once again, i am a red head and i wear red all the time. i mean its worse with orange though i’ve noticed. red heads should never wear orange. it makes you look like a pumpkin. bad bad bad. red on the other hand isn’t as bad. well for my coloring at least. (: I really really love brown and black together! Especially if you add tan into the mix! it looks amazing! Like a black pencil skirt, tan top and a brown belt with a black cardigian and some brown shoes and jewlery. love it! XOXOXO

  31. 31
    December 2nd, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Where can I find a dress that looks like that navy one? It was so cute! I love that tee shirt style dress with a belt, i want to find one before i go to florida this christmas

  32. 32
    December 12th, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Your article is well written and convincing. I am quite sure that more than one generation would appreciate your good work.
    Thanks for debunking the matching color rules!

  33. 33
    December 24th, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I LOVE black and brown together. Have for years, and will for many more to come!

  34. 34
    December 29th, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Girls that I went to high school with swore by the no black with brown “rule”. They were ridiculous and made fun of anyone who decided to mix them- love to see it make the list of rules you should break!

  35. 35
    January 22nd, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I’ve heard the “no black with brown” rule, but I love wearing my black jacket with my favorite brown shoes. And they look super cute together.

  36. 36
    April 20th, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    some of these r soo not true. i agree wit: 6, 5, n 1I disagree wit: 7. u cant do tht. 3 and 4 it depends. :)

  37. 37
    June 2nd, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    I never understood the “black and navy” rule. I mean, black goes with almost anything, so why not navy? It’s ridiculous since they look good together! Thanks for the lovely article.

  38. 38
    June 7th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Victoria Bekham’s british, she probably doesn’t have a clue when labour day is. Neither do I actually.

  39. 39
    June 30th, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Rules are stupid when it comes to fashion. If they hate it now they will love it in a few years to come and you’ll be sorry you threw things away or didn’t wear what you wanted. So my rule is no rule. Wear what you feel and pray to God you look good in it.

  40. 40
    July 7th, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Following the fashion rules is downright boring. If you like they way it looks on you, then go for it!

  41. 41
    October 3rd, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    i dont know but most of those i agree should be broken. (1, 3, 4, 5, 6) but the matching shoes and bag thing i only half agree with. i mean u cant wear a pair of green nikes while holding a black leather mimco clutch, right? and 7 dont agree with. yes u can wear tights with pumps, but tights with peep toes are a little icky, it just doesnt look right. especially if ur wearing patterned tights or fishnets

  42. 42
    November 12th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I love this article and this website. I’m so glad there’s a place for college girls who are in love with fashion to express this love and get inspiration for their “look”.

  43. 43
    November 14th, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Fantastic Post!! :]

    All of these fashion “rules” are meant to be broken. I love a sleek head-to-toe black outfit with brown boots! And I wear white so often–so glad it’s not taboo to wear it after Labor Day!

    Weirdly enough though, there is one rule I can’t seem to get out of my head. I was always told NEVER to wear red, black, or white to someone’s wedding. Whenever I do go to a wedding and see someone wearing those colors (besides the bride), I cringe!!

  44. 44
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:22 am

    With regards to the neutrals:

    Grey + _______ = always good.

    I’m still a bit iffy on the black/brown or the black/navy thing. Camel/tan and black works for me always, but I don’t like it when, say, someone wears a black shirt, black shoes, and a brown belt. If the two are in balanced amounts, then cool. I’m not too fond of mostly _____ and then a tiny bit of _____.

  45. 45
    December 1st, 2010 at 6:32 am

    black/brown or the black/navy thing. Camel/tan and black works for me always, but I don’t like it when, say, someone wears a black

  46. 46
    December 24th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Some of those rules I think have huge exceptions or are not true whatsoever but I just hate it when people mix metallics, I don’t know why but it looks like the person couldn’t be bothered to change those gold earings when they put on their new silver braclet!

  47. 47
    July 18th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Sorry but I still can’t mix neutrals. I think it looks horribly disgusting. In fact I avoid wearing neutrals in general, something about seeing a lot of one solid color like that really irks me. *shrug*

  48. 48
    January 31st, 2012 at 8:58 am

    It’s been years since there were any rules. Any.

  49. 49
    February 13th, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Question. Can you wear navy blue shorts with black tights?

  50. 50
    February 13th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Im wearing winter white coat and I love it when people look at me with their squinting eyes cos I am so bright and noticeable around the sea of black coats. Keep staring.

  51. 51
    February 16th, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Is anyone thinking critically? These “rules” aren’t coming from nowhere – at least most of them. Black and brown shouldn’t be worn together because it looks bad! Aren’t you all falling victim to the new “rules,” which now simply say break the old ones? Trendiness is sooooooo lame!

  52. 52
    July 23rd, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Thank u!!!!!!!!!!this is all what I do and everyone judges it! I just tell them I’m sorry for living in the present!!!!!!!!!!

  53. 53
    September 4th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    All of these rules have exceptions. Yes, sometimes different metals don’t go well together but it’s completely up to the piece and the individual. If it’s flattering and put together nicely…then chances are it’s ok to wear, regardless of color or any rule. Also, let me just say that I am obsessed with wearing black and brown together. Can’t wait for it to cool down so I can wear my black skinnys and brown leather Tory Burch boots! I think it looks great and hellooooo leopard print! Black and brown go well together in that sense and leopard print is truly historic being that it became popular post-World War II when women were dressing less conservatively. It’s cool that a simple print could be so expressive of the time period and I’m glad it is still worn proudly today.

  54. 54
    February 11th, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    i agree with all of these except for the navy and black, i work in an upscale men’s boutique and they tell us navy and black never go, i think this one might be more for personal preference, but if you have a business or fashion interview, or with an older or male interviewer mix navy and black with caution! they tell us to tell the men ‘black and blue makes a bruise’ however, mixing black and brown is considered very fashion forward, especially brown shoes/ accessories with red hues (burgundy/brown). this is more applicable to professional attire, but i would never wear navy and black even casually (the exception of course would be denim). hope this helps!

  55. 55
    September 19th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I appreciate the clarity offered. I have at times mixed brown, black, and navy blue. My wife hates when I do this, but I think it is okay. In my acting and modeling school, the teacher told us these rules did not apply, and the most important thing is that you feel good in it; if that’s the case, then you will look good.

    Sometimes these old fashion rules have a way of creeping in and making you self conscious though. With this article, I should be more confident now that I have the support of others who are more fashionable.

  56. 56
    January 17th, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Tights with open-toe shoes and sandals OR nude/beige shoes is a no-no. Period.

Leave a Reply


* Comment Rules: CF is a positive place and our comments section is no different. Constructive criticism is fine, but if you're rude, we'll delete your comment. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name and do not put your website in the comment text, as both come off like spam. For more info, see our Comment Policy. Have fun & thanks for adding to the conversation!


* Want a custom avatar to show up next to your comments? Sign up for a free Gravatar.