3 Fashion Rules To Break

Are there any “fashion rules” anymore?

Can you wear white after Labor Day? Are panty hose passé? Can you wear black and brown together? What about black and navy? Can you mix prints? Should your purse match your shoes? What about your coat?

These are all questions that have been brought up recently on my Facebook Page and in the comments on some of my fashion posts.

Fashion Over 40: 3 Fashion Rules to Break and How to Break Them In Style

Some say there are no fashion “rules” anymore.

I say, there may not be rules, per se, but there is a certain knack to wearing certain styles and colors and putting them together in such a way that looks current and age-appropriate. Navigating those muddy waters is highly intimidating to some of us, especially if we’re entering a new decade or stage of life. Let’s face it, no one wants to leave the house looking like a fashion emergency.

Where you live and your lifestyle also has a lot to do with what is appropriate and what isn’t, so it’s hard to write a post like this and have it apply to everyone who might read it, but I’ll do my best. Keep in mind, I am a 42-year-old suburban mom living outside of Philadelphia in a typical middle-class neighborhood. This is not high society, and I don’t have a job that requires a professional wardrobe. Neither is it a rural area or one where the styles and trends arrive towards the end of their run. We’re pretty much in the middle, I’d say, as far as when new trends become mainstream, so perhaps that helps keep me relevant to a broad cross-section of my audience.

At any rate, this is my take on some of the traditional fashion “rules” and how to break them in such a way that you look modern and age appropriate. As always, I’m open to your feedback!

3 Fashion Rules to Break (and how to break them in style)

1. How to Wear White after Labor Day

I wrote a post about how to wear white jeans after Labor Day last fall, and it was one of my most popular posts all year. It is perfectly appropriate to wear white all winter long, however, it’s best to wear white pieces that are made of heavier fabrics, such as denim or wool. Your lightweight, summery clothing should get tucked away in the back of your closet until warmer weather returns.

Here is an example of how to do it right: white jeans paired with a chunky sweater and knee-high boots. The shades of brown and the addition of the scarf make this a decidedly fall/winter outfit, and the white jeans totally work. I found this photo on Pinterest, but I can’t seem to find the original source, so I apologize for not linking back!

Fashion Over 40: How to Wear White After Labor Day & other Fashion Rules To Break

2. How to Mix Black and Brown

There was a day when I’d never have dreamed of wearing brown with black, but nowadays I see it all the time. The trick is to wear a shade of brown that is light enough to offer some contrast with the black. And if you’re worried about it looking like a mistake, add one more brown element, such as a belt or a piece of jewelry, to tie it together. Or if you have a wardrobe item that has both black and brown in it, then you’re home free!

I like to wear brown boots over black leggings. In this picture from the fall of 2013, I wore added the mustard cardigan, and then the leopard scarf ties it all together.

Fashion Over 40: How to Mix Black with Brown & other Fashion Rules To Break

And I wore my black LBD with my brown riding boots last fall. I love the look. The denim jacket keeps the look casual, and I carried a lighter brown bag. Which brings me to #3.

Fashion Over 40: How to Mix Black with Brown & other Fashion Rules To Break

3. The color of your purse does NOT need to match your shoes.

I almost never match my purse to my shoes anymore. I think it’s much more modern and interesting to create a pleasing contrast. You can do this by pairing a bright with a neutral or two neutrals.

This photo is from last winter, but I love the combination of colors. The bright pink bag contrasts beautifully with the bright teal sweater, and the neutrals keep it grounded. Grey and pink are always a nice combination. I could have also carried a black bag, and then my shoes and bag would both be neutral, but it would work because both colors were elsewhere in the outfit.

Fashion Over 40: How to Mix Colors

And here’s an example with two neutrals. Of course, I do this all the time. In this instance, I’m pairing black and grey.

Fashion Over 40: Casual Winter Outfit for Moms

Your bag or shoes also don’t need to match your coat.

What would you add to this list?

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26 Responses

  1. I agree on the bag & shoes thing wholeheartedly. As for white after labour day, I might be wrong, but I don’t think that was ever a thing over here. At least I cannot remember to have heard about not wearing white during the winter months ever before starting to read U.S. based fashion sites on the web.

    One other that comes to mind is “don’t mix silver & gold”, which I don’t think was invented by Liberace.

    Alex – Funky Jungle

  2. Would love to read some comments about panty hose vs bare legs. I am a 50+ woman and will be attending a wedding at the end of April. Haven’t worn a dress in 15 yrs!

    1. Check out Sally Hansen Leg Make-up. I think it is called “Air brush legs.” Get some in advance and give yourself at least a few days to practice applying and wearing it. Google for tips. It is THE answer for the bare-leg look for older women (myself being mid-40’s). I love this stuff!

  3. Love your post today, as always! It is so refreshing to see so many updated outfits from a beautiful lady. You have given me so much confidence. I had the two WHBM tops in my shopping cart the other day. When I read your post I hit the check out button!Can’t wait for the hose info!!! Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Great fashion rules to break for sure. I remember reading your how to wear white after labor day. I love white, but totally agree, wear it smart. (I have to be double smart with toddlers and school aged dirty hands everywhere) Thank you for the inspiration always. 🙂

    andrea @ mommainflipflops.com #realmomstyle

  5. THANK YOU. I’m constantly wondering if I should pair something navy with black or brown with black. I grew up with those being a no-no. No worries about wearing white (or at least white pants). I haven’t figured out how to wear those ANY time of year and not get dirty. Ha!

  6. I totally agree that there are no rules anymore! I remember years ago I would have never dreamed of wearing black and brown together and now I realize how good they look together! Both of your black and brown outfits are so cute!

    Doused In Pink

  7. Hi Jo-Lynne! I just found your blog and linked up today 🙂 I grew up in amish country around Lancaster and went to school in Philly! I live in Los Angeles now though.
    And I definitely agree with all your fashion rules to break!
    Jeans and a Teacup

  8. Yes such great news to be able to wear white after labor day! Love the white jeans and brown boots. You have so many cute purses and boots!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I agree, those three rules were lost somewhere along the way! Thank goodness! Now we mix prints and florals and browns and blacks. My Mom still struggles with the purse matching, back in the day….her purse always matched and old habits are hard to break:) I actually don’t do white pants/jeans unless it’s in the summer, just because we have so much snow and slush in the north. However, we are heading on vacation and I will be bringing the white with! Great Post!


  10. Love this segment. I agree with breaking all three rules. Silly that we even had such stringent guidelines to dressing. The other one I can think if was never wear green and navy, yet they look wonderful together. I pinned that first image, as well. Such a good example of wearing white in the colder months.

  11. Totally agree that while there are no rules, there should still be some guardrails! I also think fit and confidence have a lot to do with how successfully you execute certain trends or outfit combinations! And you excel in both these categories! And goodness, if I worried about matching my shoes and my bag, well, I’d have a lot more bags 🙂
    Carylee | more pieces of me

  12. Great post – I really enjoyed reading this post. I’d love to be bold enough to wear white in Winter. I might be inspired to dig out my white pair of jeans to style for a Winter Outfit.

    Thanks for hosting ths linky party & I would like to ask you to share this post at ReasonsToDress Link uP party where I am cohosting with the lovely Angie this week. It would be great to have.


  13. Jo-Lynne, first of all your new site looks great! As for the breaking the fashion rules, I agree 100% — my favorite look is wearing brown boots with a black dress. In fact, I don’t focus on colors and my matching days are over, left that back in high school!

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