7 Style Rules It's Okay to Break!

On Wednesdays, you wear pink. You only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week and you save jeans and track pants for Fridays. There are a lot of style rules to keep track of, but as Regina George pointed out, breaking the rules might mean you have to sit at the art freak table at lunch. (Hey Regina, that might be totally fun!) We’re here to tell you what the Plastics couldn’t – some style rules are definitely okay to break. Here’s how to take style risks without being caught by the fashion police.

Rule #1: Don’t mix black and brown.

Left: Jacket, AKIRA, $60
Top, H&M, $24
Velvet jeggings, Hollister, $35.50
Boots, Steve Madden, $100

Right: Dress, GoJane, $34
Jacket, Mango, $340
Tights, Free People, $24
Pumps, ModCloth, $35
Earrings, HSN, $13

How to break it: Whoever told you black and brown don’t go together must have missed the memo on the leopard print trend, which proves these colors can look gorgeous together. If animal print isn’t your style, try tucking black jeans into brown boots or toss a brown coat over your favorite LBD. “Chocolate and black are both neutrals, so mix away,” encourages Jenny Altman, former Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, Oprah, and Lucky who is also a celeb stylist (she's dressed Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, and J. Lo!), and style expert and founder of fashion site ILOVEAGOOD.com. Still hesitant to try out this color combo? Camel, a lighter, honey-toned shade of brown, is an easy (not to mention super trendy) way of easing into this pairing.

Rule #2: Don’t wear white after Labor Day.

Left: Sweater, Victoria's Secret, $69.50
Jeans, ASOS, $57.30
Nail polish, Essie, $8

Right: Blazer, H&M, $63
Blouse, H&M, $20
Jeans, American Eagle, $34.99
Ankle boots, Aldo, $90.99
Ring, Betsey Johnson, $55

How to break it: Two words – winter white. Need we say more? While your white denim cut-offs and white sundress might be more suited for August than February, there’s no reason to ban the color from your winter wardrobe entirely. Pair a cozy white sweater with colored skinny jeans, one of this winter’s biggest trends, or tone down the summery feel of white jeans with a black blazer and black boots. “A white jean is a?necessity in every girl's wardrobe. Find a great white pair that fits you well?and is opaque enough to hide your undies,” says Altman. If you’re not sure how to incorporate white into your winter wardrobe, choose heavier white fabrics like wool, cashmere, or tweed.

Rule #3: Don’t mix prints.

Left: Jacket, Free People, $218
Blouse, Monki, $40
Jeans, Forever 21, $10.80
Flats, G by Guess at Macy's, $49

Right: Tee, Topshop, $30
Jeans, Urban Outfitters, $58
Pumps, Vince Camuto, $90
Headband, Nordstrom, $28

How to break it: Mixing prints looks daring, but is actually simple to pull off! The trick is to keep an eye on the scale of the pattern. Large-scale patterns look best with small-scale patterns (and vice versa) but two prints of the same size can appear messy. Rather than going head-to-toe with patterns, stick to two different prints on the same half of your body and balance the rest of your look with solids. For example, you could rock a small-scale polka dot top with a large-scale plaid jacket and solid-colored jeans; on the flip side, go for floral jeans and leopard print pumps with a simple white tee. As a general rule of thumb, Altman says, “Just keep the color palettes the same so that the prints?don't look too crazy together.”

Rule #4: Don’t wear tights with open-toed shoes.
Left: Dress, Nasty Gal, $58
Tights, American Apparel, $22
Shoes, Aldo, $90

Right: Dress, Topshop, $51
Tights, American Apparel, $25
Sandals, MICHAEL Michael Kors, $98

How to break it: The tradition behind this so-called “rule,” Altman explains, is that open-toed shoes put the toe seam on some pairs of tights on display, which can look awkward. If you have a pair of seamless tights, feel free to ignore this rule entirely and extend the seasonal life of your favorite pair of wedge sandals with a pair of tights layered underneath! Strappy sandals that leave the majority of your foot bare tend to look over-exposed when paired with tights, but chunky-strapped sandals with a thick heel are perfect for breaking this style rule. Show off your daring side with colored tights and a statement shoe or opt for an understated look by matching your tights to your shoes. This style works best with heels.

Rule #5: Horizontal stripes make you look fat.

Left: Top, ASOS, $32.23
Skirt, Topshop, $44
Tights, Forever 21, $8.80
Ankle booties, DSW, $49.95

Right: Tank, Quiksilver, $29.50
Skirt, Nasty Gal, $38
Necklace, Nasty Gal, $20
Pumps, Wet Seal, $29.50

How to break it: Horizontal stripes might not be the most figure-flattering piece you own, but there’s a way to wear this classic look without adding ten pounds. Thick, broad stripes can make you look wide, but narrow ones make you look slender. If you’re still not sold on the optical illusion effect, wear stripes on the smallest part of your body. “Diagonal stripes can also be very flattering,” Altman says. (Pear-shaped girls, go for a fitted, striped top; busty girls, go for a sexy, striped bandage skirt; girls who are curvy all over, break up the pattern with a belt at your waist or wear fun striped accessories.)

Rule #6: Sequins are for nighttime only.

Left: Tank, J. Crew, $49.50
Leggings, Topshop, $40
Denim jacket, American Eagle, $49.50
Cross-body bag, ASOS, $35.81
Shoes, TOMS, $48

Right: Sweater, J. Crew, $65
Skirt, Style by Marina, $49
Tights, Forever 21, $8.80
Boots, Jessica Simpson, $80
Ring, Kate Spade, $48

How to break it: Sequins at your 10 am psych lecture? Absolutely. A sequined, skin-tight mini dress with sky-high heels and red lipstick at your 10 am psych lecture? Absolutely not. It’s fun to go glam during the day, but it’s important to keep balance in mind. Try a sequined tank under a denim jacket or a sequined skirt with a crewneck sweater. When wearing sequins, keep the rest of your look casual and covered-up to look like you’re going out for the day, not just coming home from a crazy night out.

Rule #7: You can’t wear… (fill in the blank with the crazy trend you’ve seen on Lady Gaga and secretly would love to try).
How to break it: Confidence, girl! Every trendsetter started out wearing outfits that might have raised a few eyebrows, the Great Lady G included. (Okay, let’s be honest. We still haven’t gotten over the meat dress, which was probably unsanitary, anyway.) But chances are good that if you think you look fierce, fashionable, and fearless, others will, too! Keep your chin up, shoulders back, and strut across campus like it’s your own personal catwalk – now that is how to pull off an outfit!


Originally from Boston, Hannah is now a sophomore at New York University and loves life in the big city. Her favorite things include poking fun at celebrities on Twitter, yoga, leopard print shoes, Frank Sinatra, and her little sister Julia. Hannah was Her Campus's first editorial intern in Summer 2010 and has since continued her involvement with HC as the High School Editor and head of the High School Ambassador program. She is a former Seventeen and Huffington Post intern, where she researched and wrote about celebrities and once made lunch for Kylie Jenner. Read her short-form ramblings at @hannahorens.

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