Are you a rule follower? Or are you a rebel to the very core? Me? I’m a bit of both. I remember in high school, the brainiacs thinking I belonged with the partiers, the partiers thought I was a brainiac… It wasn’t that I was trying to be a chameleon, living on both sides of the fence, I truly was a little bit of both – 4th in my class, but also hiding bottles of grain alcohol in my locker! (Don’t tell!)
Now here I am, 51 yrs. old, and I still seem to be on two sides of an issue. Everywhere I look (read), there seems to be another article from a fashion blogger about throwing away all the fashion rules – do what you want , wear what you want. It’s all about whatever you like. Then, of course, there are the other extremes, who adhere religiously to the “old school” rules of dress – and expect YOU to, as well! So, where do I stand on this swinging pendulum? Both personally, and professionally, it’s important to know what I think and which direction I would advise others.
If you’ve read along with me for any length of time, you know that I have advocated in the past for throwing away some needless and pointless old school rules – we’ve added white after labor day, mixed prints, combined unconventional colors, and the list goes on.
But, yet, in some aspects I strongly support following certain rules – even if it gets me “virtually” stoned! Freedom and self-expression is a wonderful thing, but, even in the midst of freedom, we set a certain degree of rules/laws or chaos ensues. That’s true of government, schools, businesses – almost any area of life. I have the freedom to drive my car anywhere I choose, but there are rules that dictate how I drive it…the speed I go, when I stop, when I go, what vehicles I must yield to… Following these rules keeps things running smoothly and actually protects everyone’s personal space and freedoms. If I break the rules, chaos or harm could come to someone else.
Obviously with clothing and dress, the consequences are not near as dire, but the concept is the same – there are certain “rules” of dress that help us to look our best – to present at our best possible level. To make our clothes fit and hang correctly. There are colors that bring out our best features. Shapes and patterns that work best with our shape. When we follow these “rules”, regardless of whether a piece is “on trend” or the latest “thing” we are going to look exceptional.
However, if we ignore these rules of fit, color, proportion etc., even if the piece itself is stunning – we are going to look off and out of place in it. People may compliment the item, but is that our goal? Haven’t we wasted our money if we’ve bought a piece that is itself attractive, but makes us look frumpy or washed out or physically out of proportion?
Does this mean I think we all belong in a “uniform”? Hardly! Have you seen my wardrobe?! I don’t think I fit into most 51 yr. old women’s expected wardrobe requirements. True style doesn’t work when it’s simply “put on”. As Epictetus said in the 2nd century, “Know first who you are and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
The basic rules and guidelines of dress are meant to give you a correct fit and hang, and can be applied to any style of clothing. I believe sticking to these guidelines 95% of the time will give you greater confidence in the clothes you put on, knowing that they fit well, hang perfectly, thus present you at your absolute best.
Once you’ve past that hurdle – the fun begins! It’s time to bring in your personal style – whether you’re a Coco Chanel or a Betsey Johnson! Style should be an expression of one’s innermost soul – a way of telling the world who you are. Think of Coco and Betsey…polar opposites in their styles…the late Coco: so classic and chic. She was the epitome of French style. Betsey: (I love Betsey so much!) Whacky, crazy, the ultimate free spirit. Each expressing completely different personal style, but each, also, closely follow the rules of fit, hang, etc.
So, yes, for the record, I follow the rules. I don’t wear things that make me look shorter. I do wear things that create a waist. I don’t wear the color orange. I do wear lots of pink and purple. The list goes on. And for the record, no, I don’t follow the rules. When it comes to expressing personal style, I encourage you to find what works for YOU! What says YOU to the world?! Quoting fashion author and fellow thrifter, Christa Weil, “If your spirit feels most at home in delicate lace, you will never be totally comfortable in corporate armor until you mold it into your own image. In a world that revolves around designer whims, true style comes from charting your own course!”
To answer the question in our title, Do the Fashion Rules Still Matter? I believe they do…within commonsense and reason. Fashion should make us feel good about ourselves, boost our confidence so we can “go forth and conquer.” But, fashion should also be fun. A place for self-expression, that brings us pleasure and joy. Like most of life, we need to find that place of balance, remembering, ultimately, it’s just clothes, folks.
Until We Meet Again,