The other day there was a conversation over on the 7 Steps for Style private Facebook forum about breaking style rules and I loved this quote supplied by one of the members. There was a question about how many rules can you break and how far you can push them.
How far can you go breaking your rules? Well there are a few things to consider.
1. Your Personality
Who are you? Do you like to have a set of rules to live by? Are you a more classic personality style? Do you love to know what is right and wrong and are happy to live by these rules? Or, do you push boundaries? Do you love to be more creative or rebellious? Do you hate being the same as everyone else? Do you love change? The answers to these will tell you a little about whether or not you should break rules.
The reality is, some of us a natural rule breakers and others like to stick to the rules as it makes us feel safe and secure. Neither is right or wrong, they just are. So if your personality pushes you to breaking your style rules (which are guidelines anyway, not hard and fast rules) then of course break them!
2. Your Values
What do you enjoy wearing? Some of us have styles that veer off the straight and narrow. Others like a more conservative style of clothing, so tend to break fewer rules. But that said, our style and our body are closely intertwined. For example if you have a large bust, which will be minimised with a lower neckline (not super low, but not a high neckline) but one of your clothing values is modesty and covering up your body, you may find that your modesty value trumps the flattery of a lower neckline, and you’ll choose to wear higher necklines, knowing that this is making your bust appear larger, but you just feel more comfortable covered up.
You may have a sensory value, where you like your clothing to feel comfortable, and this is one of your highest drivers. If it’s not comfortable you won’t wear it. But maybe your workplace is more conservative and it’s more ideal to wear the dress code of more structured clothing and because you find them binding and uncomfortable you’ll break that dress code rule by wearing garments that have stretch in them, such a knit top rather than a collared cotton shirt.
If you are highly social and being like your friends and how they dress is important to you, then you may prefer to wear the latest fashion whether or not it suits you, whether it’s a trend colour or shape that isn’t enhancing to your unique body. Do it with the knowledge and you can make the decisions just how far you’re willing to go to break your rules.
3. Your Body and Your Body Image
What shape is your body? What are your proportions? What are your body variations? And most importantly, how do you feel about that body? The more we have (in the words of Tim Gunn) figure ‘challenges’ that we wish to mitigate, the more likely we are to stick with rules as they help to achieve this. Particularly if we don’t have a really amazing body image. If we have a great body image, we are more likely if personality dictates it, to break our rules, knowing that it make make us look taller, thinner, fatter, shorter etc. but we don’t care, as we are expressing our personality and we know that we are breaking and why we’re doing it.
It’s a choice you make with the knowledge you have, and this is why having that knowledge, as Picasso says ‘learning the rules like a pro’ allows us to decide how to break our rules without necessarily creating an outfit that makes us look like a disaster and plays up everything we may wish to downplay. I break my rules all the time as far as what suits my body shape. This is an expression of my creative personality.
One of the things I’ve discovered is that if you’re wearing colours well outside of your colour palette, if you wear them in the right contrast levels, it won’t be as unflattering as it could be!
4. Your Lifestyle
How do you spend your time? There is no point having outfits that don’t suit your lifestyle, even if they fit all the style rules. In the olden days (yep when I was growing up all those decades ago) we were told that every wardrobe needed a particular list of clothing. That everyone needed a crisp white shirt, and everyone needed a little black dress etc. But if you’re a mum at home and have no need for these items, nowhere to wear them, and they are not part of your personality style, then there is no reason to own or wear these garments. There are no rules anymore as far as what you must have in your closet. Your wardrobe needs to reflect your current lifestyle (not what it was last week or even last year!).
5. Your Existing Wardrobe
Unless you have an unlimited budget (and lucky you if you do), then you need to work with your existing wardrobe, even if it’s not great, until you can gradually find fabulous pieces that represent who you are today and your current lifestyle. Yes black may not be your best colour and you may have a ton of it in there that you just can’t afford to throw out. So learn how you can work what you have into outfits that you like that make best use of these pieces. Then over time you can replace, but until then, don’t throw everything away until you have something better!
In my opinion it’s completely fine to break your style rules. Just learn your rules and take everything into consideration first so you can break them like an artist and still look fabulous!
So what I want to know is how willing are you to break your style rules? And when you do break them, in what ways do you break them?