8 Fashion Rules You Should Follow

Fashion rules are made to be broken… except for these. These are the ones you should obey.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.


I wrote a few days ago about fashion rules you should break, and today I’m going to go in the opposite direction, with a list of the top 8 fashion rules that everyone should follow.

While most of those old fashion rules are outdated and stupid, there are a few that have stood the test of time. Those are the ones I’m going to focus on in this article.

Also, just for fun, I’ve included a few new rules of my own in this list. My rules may not be time-tested, but I think you’ll agree that they are definitely worth following too.

1. Never wear white to someone else’s wedding.

Yup, this is one old-fashioned fashion rule that definitely still applies today. While most of us college girls won’t be attending our friend’s weddings for many years, this rule is still important to know for the future.

When you wear white to someone else’s wedding, you’re basically upstaging the bride on her special day.

Even if you look fabulous in white or if the bride isn’t wearing white, you still shouldn’t wear a white outfit to a wedding that isn’t yours. It’s just about respect and being a good guest. Remember this rule and don’t break it.

2. Pajamas should never be seen in public.

I’m a big believer in this rule, and I even wrote an article about it last year.

Basically, I think PJ’s in public is a trend that way too many college girls and even older women follow, and that needs to change! It’s such a bad choice as far as clothing goes, and really shows that you don’t care at all about how you look.

I won’t go into too much detail on this – you can read my rant about pj’s in public if you want, but let’s just say that pajamas are great for lounging and sleeping, and not appropriate for anything else.

3. Never wear “double denim.”

A nice pair of jeans can go with almost anything. The one thing they don’t go with? A denim jacket. (Or denim top, or denim hat.)

Yup, denim on denim is never a good idea (see the picture of Britney and Justin on the left for proof of this fashion crime in action.)

Why exactly is this combo so horrible?

Assuming you aren’t a cowgirl and don’t work at a rodeo, there’s just no reason to wear an all-jean, matching outfit in public. It looks tacky and costume-y, and isn’t modern in the least. That’s just the way it goes – matching denim on the top and bottom is too much and looks bad.

The exception to this rule is wearing mismatched denim pieces together. A white denim jacket paired with dark wash jeans, for example, can look fresh and modern. But matching denim on the top and bottom is always a no-go in my book.

Jeans are fabulous, and so are denim jackets. They just don’t work when you match them together. You have to pick: either the jeans or the jean jacket, but not both.

4. Don’t wear flip flops if there’s snow on the ground.

Okay, this isn’t an actual time-tested fashion rule, but it’s one of my personal rules that I think everyone should follow too. Think it’s obvious? It isn’t. I’ve seen this done on college campuses.

Let me just start by saying that flip flops are great – they’re comfortable, come in zillions of colors, and don’t cost a lot of money. They’re fabulous in spring and summer, and are ideal for a day at the beach.

But. Flip flops are NOT winter footwear. They don’t even cover 1/6th of your foot! Wearing them in the snow is ridiculous and looks really painful. Please do your feet a favor and keep them covered up until it’s warm out.

5. At work, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.

I mentioned this rule earlier this year in my article about what to wear to a job interview, and thought I’d repeat it here. When it comes to your career, it’s always a good idea to dress too well, as opposed to not dressing well enough.

Okay, it might be a little embarrassing to be over-dressed for work. But it always makes a better impression than looking like a slob. When you think about it, it’s really a no-brainer. No one ever got ahead looking way too sloppy.

The next time you’re not sure what to wear to a job interview, or what to wear to an internship, just remember this rule and overdress instead of underdressing. Worst case scenario? You’d look too good. That’s not bad at all.

6. Running shoes don’t go with jeans.

Running shoes

This is another one of my personal fashion rules, but I think most fashionistas would agree with me that running shoes and jeans are a don’t!

I love her to death, but my mom wears this combo a lot, and I am always on her case about it! Some people still don’t get that athletic shoes – like, those specifically made for athletic wear – aren’t a substitute for all-purpose casual shoes.

With cute shoes like boots, ballet flats, and even casual converse sneakers at your disposal, there’s just no excuse to rock athletic shoes with jeans.

Running shoes are only appropriate at two times: when you’re at the gym and when you’re going for a run. Wearing them at any other time just looks awful and inappropriate. Add in some jeans, and it’s a true fashion disaster. Don’t let this happen to you!

7. You shouldn’t be able to see your underwear through your clothes.

Yes, panty lines and see-through shirts are still fashion don’ts, and I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Panty lines are one of the worst fashion crimes out there, and it’s shocking to see women who still have them. What woman today doesn’t own a thong? If your pants are tight or light-colored at all, you need to be wearing a thong to avoid ugly panty lines. If you don’t like thongs, either get different pants, find seamless boy shorts, or get over your fear! They’re way more comfy than they look, if you buy the right brand.

See-through shirts with brightly colored bras are just as bad. While the combo might look great on the runways, it usually doesn’t work for everyday life. If you’re wearing a white shirt, make sure to wear a nude bra underneath. Not leopard, and not neon purple. There are some things a woman just needs to keep to herself!

8. If you don’t feel comfortable in it, don’t wear it.

I saved the most important rule for last. If you don’t follow any of the other rules, please follow this one. No matter the occasion, if you aren’t feeling an outfit or piece of clothing, don’t wear it.

The purpose of fashion is to make you look and feel great. If you’re wearing something you hate, it’s going to show all over your face. Your confidence will be lower than normal, and you’ll be constantly focused on your outfit instead of having a great time.

This rule also applies to trends. No matter how much you loved a top you saw on Gossip Girl, if you try it on and hate it on you, don’t get it. All trends aren’t right for all people, and you should never feel bad skipping out on the latest fad if it doesn’t flatter you.

No matter what anyone says, always follow this one rule.

Your Thoughts?

How do you feel about these fashion rules – would you ever break them, or do you agree that they are fashion basics? Let me know what you think & discuss these fashion rules by leaving a comment below.

67 thoughts on “8 Fashion Rules You Should Follow”

  1. What a great site! I’m so glad I found it! I love this fashion list! I’d like to add to the don’t wear white to a wedding, don’t wear a “creamy white” to a wedding- as my sister did to my wedding.

  2. @nosaj and jes, the shoes I actually have are nike shox (these ones specifically, if you want to see, http://store.nike.com/index.jsp?country=US&lang_locale=en_US&l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pid-148330/pgid-162226#l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pid-148336/pgid-162226 in black/doll). I had to get special insoles put in because the ones in stores don’t work for me. I’ve heard of taping my feet, but I find it to be uncomfortable and annoying. That said, there are certain cute shoes I can wear, but ballet flats are out of the question. My insoles usually don’t fit… =/

    Maybe I should write an article about cute shoes for college girls with issues… haha

  3. I would just like to remind people that the shoes the author is referring to in Rule 6 is ATHLETIC shoes. Not all sneakers can be considered athletic shoes.

    The shoes that are specifically designed to enhance running performance should not be worn casually (aside from the fact that they really do look bad with daily attire) because they can actually ruin the shoes! The shoes are meant for performance, not casual affairs.

    This [Rule 6] EXCLUDES sneakers that are meant for casual dress, such as Puma’s, Reebok, etc. These sneakers can give excellent support for feet and be much more comfortable than flats, heels, or anything in between, and are still so much better looking than running shoes.

    Really, it makes me sad to see people wear them daily. My boyfriend does it; he spends so much money on each pair of running shoes and they only end up lasting a few months because they get worn down so much, what a waste.

  4. My favorite one…no running shoes and jeans. THANK YOU! This is one of my [many] fashion pet peeves. It drives me crazy when I see someone wearing this. Gym shoes should only be worn to the gym…they have that name for a reason.

  5. I’ve NEVER heard of rule #6 before. I break it all the time, and I think I’ll continue to break it, as I really don’t own that many pairs of shoes. Plus, I think function (i.e. comfort) trumps fashion in that respect.

  6. Well! I learned something from this article for sure… and I have one to add. Going one step further than “7. You shouldn’t be able to see your underwear through your clothes.” I don’t want to see your bra straps or underwear, ever, period. Wear a strapless bra with that tank top. Get low-rise undies to go with those low-rise jeans. WTF people! This irks me to no end. 😀

  7. I thought i was so weird for refusing the jean/athletic shoe combo. I never think it looks right and SO many people wear so i figured i was just being silly. Im so glad my fashion sense is right every now & then!

  8. I don’t know why people argue about the jeans with athletic shoes rule. I understand if comfort is a big factor, but there a lot of cuter, more comfortable shoes out there!

  9. I completely agree with the no see-through shirt + colored patterned bra. It really, really annoys me to no end. I know in the summer it’s annoying to layer something underneath because it’s so hot, but these people just do it on purpose! So not cool. Designers should make their shirts a tad thicker, too, I think.

    Like many others, my feet need support and since I haven’t yet gotten around to buying some insoles, I either wear good shoes (Converse really doesn’t count, they don’t do much for me) or soak my feet in some hot water at the end of the day, it always feels better.

    Great blog.

  10. @ justine: I don’t think it’s that you can’t wear ANY kind of tennis shoes, just please not the ugly kind. There are totally cute sneakers out there… just as long as they don’t look like running shoes.

  11. I have to disagree with the running shoes and jeans thing…. I have muscular problems with my feet so I have to wear special-ordered athletic shoes pretty much all the time. If I wear sandals or flats for longer than a few hours, my feet are screaming in pain. Besides, my athletic shoes are a cute color and I don’t see what’s wrong with them!

  12. “Never let muscloskeletal problems prevent you from anything, especially wearing totally cute ballet flats all day long.”

    Seriously? I can’t believe I’m reading this. Some things, like health, are just more important than fashion. I am all for wearing cute outfits, shoes included. But at some point, you just have to give it up. Blisters are one thing, permanent damage to your body is another.

  13. I agree with all of the rules except one. Now, I understand the reasoning for the rule about not wearing athletic shoes everywhere because there are cute and versatile shoes that WILL go with every outfit, and cute shoes will always make an outfit look more pulled-together, period.

    But that is one rule that I just will not always comply with. In general, I find that athletic shoes provide far better foot support than flats and even converse sneakers. My feet, in particular, have really high arches, and it’s hard for me to find a pair of flat shoes that will fit and support my feet through a long day of walking around from class to class to work to out with friends. When it comes to health, I WILL sacrifice social norms for female beauty for what’s best for me.

    However, this doesn’t mean I’m not looking for the Holy Grail cute shoe that will perfectly fit my feet, won’t give me blisters or pain at the end of the day, and will go with almost every outfit. 🙂

    Also, I would add that FIT is a crucial fashion rule. I think that if something fits right and is flattering for YOUR body, you will look much, much better.

  14. @jenny – there are some running shoes that are pretty stylish. try nike shox deliver or some of the pumas. i think they can go pretty well with premium denim if you can match it right.

  15. And if you can’t walk in heels, either learn or wear flats.
    But don’t go out in heels if you’re not ready for prime time.

  16. I agree with most of these, but I have to disagree with #6. I wear my sneakers with jeans almost all the time (except when it’s winter and I’m wearing boots). I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not at all fashion-minded (that’s why I read these blogs, to get some sense of how to pull together a dressy outfit, for example). But I see people wearing running/athletic shoes with jeans, on college campuses and otherwise, and I don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s mostly the people who really aren’t into fashion, or not into fashion that day. Because let’s face it, if I’m going to be walking all over campus, walking to and from home, walking to get groceries, walking through rain and thunderstorms, I’m going to be doing tons of walking and want a comfortable shoe that isn’t going to destruct in weather. I don’t know, I think it’s perfectly okay. Would something be more fashionable? More cute? Heck yeah. Does it look terrible? No.

  17. Bri makes a point. If your not going runnin why wear running shoes? thats so tacky and thare are tons of tennis shoes or sneaker that go with shoes, I have some baby phat high tops that go well with my flare jeans. an I think more ppl should get into werain heals with skinnies, I’m tired of seeing girls tring to tuck them in shoes. so tacky

  18. wow you cant wear sport shoes with jeans, i should break that habit X). Hey i got one fashion question to ask you, and you wear slip on converse shoes with a black skirt? Example of the shoe im talking about

    and the skirt is a little above the knees. Yeah i was told that that combination doesnt work or match is this true???

  19. I have a pair of cute Pumas that I wear with jeans on occasion and I don’t see anything wrong with it. Of course, I agree that you shouldn’t wear the big, bulky, worn down pairs of sneakers, but I don’t think I would say you can’t wear ANY kind of tennis shoes.

  20. I actually agree with this entire article.

    I hate when people wear tennis shoes with jeans. I don’t so much mind the cuter converse shoes, but running shoes with jeans always get me too. To me, it just looks unfinished and….well, bad, but that’s just my opinion.

    Panty lines = Bad. Always have been, always will be. It’s something I definitely don’t want to see…do you?

  21. Oh yeah, also, I don’t wear thongs, but you can’t see my underwear through my pants. Just pick nice pants and better underwear. 🙂

  22. 1. Haha, “someone” did this at my sister’s wedding, too funny. Not for her though.
    3. Ew, ew, ew.
    4. I made the mistake of wearing them in 5-10 degree weather, no snow or anything, but still way too cold!
    6. My mom just will NOT believe me when I say this. I have bad feet though so I am stuck with a very limited choice of shoes to go with my jeans. 🙁
    8. Agreed 110%

    Great article Zephyr!

  23. Chelsea – It might not be the most flattering combo on every body type, but it would probably be fine. If you have larger legs then I would recommend picking a longer skirt or going with a pair of opaque tights under the skirt. But at the end of the day, if you like it and it makes you feel good then wear it and don’t worry what people think!

    j – Yeah, a lot of people are still into it. But it just doesn’t make sense. If you aren’t going running, why would you need an athletic shoe? There are so many cute shoes out there that are so much nicer looking for casual wear. And they’re usually cheaper than athletic shoes anyway!

    Ally – Glad you agree 🙂

    M – Aah, yeah, sometimes it looks like it’s almost flip flop weather but it’s not! No fun wearing flip flops in cold weather. Also, yeah, if your underwear doesn’t show through then it’s fine. But really, nobody wants to see the outline of your undies through your pants, I can’t believe that’s controversial to some people!

  24. 1. Yes. You have millions of little black dresses. Wear one of them. Or red or pink or green or something that’s not white. This is not that difficult.

    2. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh. yes. Also, gym clothes that look like pajamas = not cool. Or gym clothes anywhere but the gym, for that matter.

    3. You can wear two denim pieces in the same outfit actually, but you have to be extremely careful with it. First of all they can’t be in close proximity and secondly they cannot cannot CANNOT be anywhere near the same shade. I’ve worn very dark wash skinny jeans with a minidress and a light jean jacket over it and it looked fine because there was space between the two pieces of denim cause of wearing a minidress not just a normal shirt, and cause the colors were so different. I’d also think you could wear a jean jacket with colored skinny jeans and a long top. Just, yeah, avoid the cowboy look.

    4. Yeah, flip flops when it’s freezing out just look dumb. Plus everybody comments. I wore them the other day actually and there’s no snow or anything but it was kind of cold early in the morning and everybody was like “are you INSANE? aren’t you FREEZING?” so I decided, I guess it’s time to stop wearing flip-flops for the year.

    5. Yes, also you can plan your outfit such that if you’re overdressed you can take the top layer (jacket, cardigan, whatever) off and look a little more casual.

    6. YES. YES YES YES YES YES. There are so many cute sneakers in the world. And running shoes are not cute. So WHY do so many people do that?

    7. not through your clothes, and not anywhere else, either. Your thong should not show and your bra straps should not show. Seriously, people. Have a little bit of class.

    8. Definitely. If you buy clothes that are super cute on other people but you hate, you’ll look disgusting and then they will end up sitting in the back of your closet and basically that’s a waste of money. Buy stuff *you* like.

  25. If you have problems with the arches or muscles, you can use athletic tape and tape your feet so that there is support so you can wear all kinds of shoes. Never limit yourself because of anatomical issues. I think that bothers me more than anything else on this list. Never let muscloskeletal problems prevent you from anything, especially wearing totally cute ballet flats all day long. You can move pass running shoes. Talk to an athletic trainer or doctor about orthotics that are removable. You can even learn to tape your feet for support (which would lead to wearing opaque tights/knee-highs/whatever unless you want to rock the “taped-feet” look. It won’t get you too far, unless you run into a really cute athletic trainer/athlete that knows anything about tapings).

    Just never settle for anything less than the absolute best. There are possibilities, you just have to look harder. Some situations are unavoidable, understandably. Just don’t limit yourself.

  26. I think there are some athletic shoes that can work well with jeans (Puma, like mentioned above, seem like a good brand for the jean/sneakers combo), but I have to agree with this rule. In fact, I was just thinking about it earlier.

    I usually wear Converse sneakers, because I walk around so much and my campus isn’t very even, so flats only work on one class days. I can never find athletic shoes that fit well with my jeans anyway (I usually wear boot cut). My sister wears them with jeans, though, and I think they look fine (boot cut). I guess it depends on the size jeans that you wear, and shoes, but it seems like I’m just out of luck with finding athletic shoes in the first place.

  27. For number 6, I feel like it means if you wear the sneakers to the gym, don’t wear them out when you are not working out.

    They are cute sneakers and flats that have arch support. or if they don’t try inserts, or gel pads

  28. Jennifer – I don’t know what it’s like to have high arches and need foot support, so obviously I’m not suggesting that people ignore what their doctor says and wear whatever shoes I tell them to! If sneakers are all you can wear, then that’s that. But I don’t know if it’s about social norms for female beauty. This applies to guys too, it’s just about fashion and shoes looking good with an outfit and not looking inappropriate. Hopefully one day they will make shoes that fit everyone right and look great.

    Anita -I totally agree about undies showing.. no one wants to see that!

    Lisa – Good point about denim. There are some exceptions to that rule. I was mostly talking about matching denim when I wrote the above, but I should add in that if the denim doesn’t match and you break it up, it can look cute.

    Jes – I totally agree! There have to be cute orthapedic shoes out there that aren’t running shoes! It makes me sad to hear that some people are stuck wearing athletic sneakers all day.

    Justine – I like casual sneakers, just not ones that are supposed to be worn for athletics. They don’t make sense unless you’re wearing them for athletics.

    Rachel – Love love love Converse shoes. I wear mine all the time too!

    Hannah – Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Mo – Yeah, it’s definitely a combo that people who aren’t fashion-minded are more likely to wear. But I just think there should be a middle-ground.. a cute shoe that works with your outfit & isn’t uncomfortable & isn’t going to destruct. It’s too bad that running shoes seem to be the only option for so many people.

    Celeste – I can’t believe there are so many people who are against that rule! I had no clue it would be so controversial.

    Shame – You’re missing out! There are so many cute shoes out there that are comfortable too, I promise! Shoes are so much fun and I think every woman deserves to have cute ones. They make such a huge difference in your outfit.

    Demi – Love your blog- so cute! The title is great also 🙂

    Shoe Blog – All good points!

  29. oh, man, this is perfect.
    i think it’s incredibly disgusting when people wear a denim jacket and jeans together.

    and the athletic shoes with jeans… i’m so happy i found other people that agree,
    no one i know does it, though they don’t notice it.
    but yeah, i think this is one of the main things that get me annoyed, after people who wear trends that aren’t right for them.

    (especially the athletic sneakers with skinny jeans.)
    but i disagree with them being ugly OVERALL, because most of the time they are, but i’ve seen them on girls working out, or playing sports and they look really good.

    i recently found this site, & totally love it.
    and i’m not really that girl-y, brand-concious or anything anymore.

  30. this was hillarious-

    mainly because i know plenty of people guilty of this

    (including me on the PJ’s one, but it was a DARE!)

    The final rule however, i swear by

    the best thing to feel good in is your own skin so you can do your own thing, it makes my style personal

  31. I definitely think wearing sweats on a Saturday morning to grab breakfast at the cafeteria is okay. PJs with funny bright colors is a little silly. But college is not just a place of academia. It’s our home. We don’t have to make a fashion statement 24/7. Even famous people like to unwind on the weekends. Aside from that, I agree withe everything here!

  32. I agree with this whole article. My mom does the whole running shoe with jeans thing too and I’m always telling her to cut it out, its so tacky! Great post 🙂

  33. Absolutely! No running shoes with jeans NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!!! I see this mistake sooo much! If you feel like you might have to run for some reason, wear a cute, comfy pair of flats instead.

  34. I totally agree with all the rules here. This exactly shows the class and style of a person and that he doesn’t ignore how he looks. And to add up , I hat people who wear sports shoes with jeans. It looks so terrible. Jeans con go well with flat shoes/sneakers. You are a moron if u think sports shoes goes well with jeans. U can do all whatever is done in the movies or by the celebrities. Create your own style and maintain the class! 🙂

  35. I think that was really great advice but you left out a few things I needed but that’s ok. I really love the advice about don’t wear double denim I like it don’t forget keep on blogging AND HAVE A PASSION FOR FASHION!!!!!

  36. I disagree with the jean thing. Yes you shouldn’t match the color of your jeans with your jean jacket. I think if you have a light washed jean jacket to wear darker washed jeans. That would look fine 🙂 or even yoga pants with your jean jacket

  37. My school is one of those small ones where all that people do to be popular is be athletic. So every single girl in my school breaks that tennis with jeans rule. I personally always thought it looked wrong and now I know that it is wrong!!

  38. I disagree with a few. I have seen sports shoes look good with jeans. I have seen jeans and jean jackets or shirts look Ok too. It just depends. I like sweat pants worn as pants like with heels, so there goes that rule.
    I agree with the first and the last rule. Never wear white to someone elses wedding! Very rude. And don’t wear things that don’t make you feel good.

  39. I never even saw people wearing running shoes with jeans EVER where I lived in Australia, then I got to the states and so many people do! It doesn’t look good, so thank you so much for telling people what the deal is!

  40. Converse hurt my feet so bad and ballet flats are even worse, so i do break the jeans with sneaker rules all the time and so do so many other people i see on campus i never actually thought this was some type of rule…I mean obviously I wouldn’t wear them on a date or anything, but if you have to trek around campus in the rain or you’re going to the grocery store then i don’t think it’s that big of a deal, honestly

    Oh and i think the white at a wedding thing is so funny me and my mom fight about it all the time. In our country (guatemala) it’s actually expected for you to wear white or a light color to a wedding, and black is an absolute no. All I know is I my mom is not showing up in white to my wedding.

  41. I would like to know where the rule about see through tops has gone. I see it everywhere now and have no problem with it. also the athletic shoe thing is no big deal, people are just too fussy.

  42. I wear tennis shoes with jeans when I work, because I’m behind a counter and on my feet for hours on end. Flats are awful for this, and converse are better but only marginally.

  43. Although running shoes don’t look particularly good with jeans, I wouldn’t put it on a list of fashion rules. I run. And I can assure you no one will ever make a casual shoe as comfortable as my running shoes (or better for your feet).

    Cute shoes might look better and be cheaper, but they can cause some pain and damage too. Flats=no arch support. Being an athlete, I intend to keep my feet happy. Therefore, if I’m doing a lot of walking and don’t need to be dressed up, I will continue to wear my running shoes and jeans.

  44. As a bride-to-be, I COMPLETELY agree with rule #1! If anyone wears white to my wedding other than me, I WILL punch them out. OK, Bridezilla moment over. That said, I don’t necessarily agree with rule #8. Sometimes, if something just too fashion-fabulous for words, I’ll wear it even if I’m in agony. Beauty is pain! I have an ADORABLE pair of plaid stiletto pumps that I just can’t get enough of. Yeah, I must sound like a masochist, but they’re so freaking cute I put up with it. 🙂

  45. THANK YOU for the comment about pajamas in public!
    I’m from Finland and when i was in Florida last winter I thought they had all gone crazy, walking around in the mall with pajamas…
    Now THAT’S a DON’T!

  46. I’ll wear my jean jackets with my blue jeans any damn time I like. The jacket comes off anyway, its only meant for warmth.

    I’ll wear my runnin shoes with that denim combo if I like too. I think thats a very superficial rule. I have some really cute running shoes in the style of mary janes and ballet flats too.

    Sometimes bra straps fall, if you wear bra thats the same color as your tank and has skinnier straps, it just looks like double straps.

  47. i dont know if any one mentioned this already but something else….LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS!!!

    i am just so happy i found a place where i could share lol


Leave a Comment