When it comes to fashion, it’s easy to play by the rules, but you may end up looking pretty much like everybody else. Instead, why not defy the conventional do’s and don’ts in favor of a style that’s simple but also expresses a more updated, authentic you?
“Style is the way we speak to the world about who we are without words,” says Bobbie Thomas, the “Today” show’s style editor. “Challenge your own fashion rules by saying something new and unexpected.” Here’s a roundup of rule-bending advice:
Pair Brown with Black
Wearing head-to-toe black or brown can look harsh and evoke the formality of a stodgy uniform. “Mixing black and brown adds an instant softness,” says Thomas. “It takes a conservative look and makes it more accessible and casual.” One of the best ways to give visual interest to an otherwise simple and monochromatic look is with accessories. Wear a brown pump with a black suit, a black bag with a brown coat, a chocolate belt with charcoal slacks. “Even Matt Lauer wears brown shoes with a black suit,” says Thomas. “I love that. It’s an unexpected twist that works for men and women alike.”
Mix Your Metals
The days of the verboten mix of gold and silver accessories are gone, says eco-chic fashion designer Karen Stewart of the brand Stewart and Brown. “That paradigm has shifted in favor of a much more contemporary look,” she says. Jewelers like David Yurman seamlessly incorporate gold and silver into their designs, and who doesn’t love the classic Cartier Trinity ring with its combination of three different colors of gold? It’s simple to start the style: pair gold and silver bangles or wearing a chunky stainless watch with gold details. Ready to get a bit bolder with your style? Wear hoop earrings that don’t match your rings, or layer necklaces in different colors and textures.
Dress up and Down
“I love mixing high and low,” says Hollywood fashion stylist Lauren Ehrenfeld, who once dressed Jennifer Aniston in a simple white T-shirt and a beautiful chiffon skirt. Ehrenfeld herself might wear a flirty dress and swap strappy sandals for Converse tennis shoes. She loves to pair casual cashmere with silk (“It’s a very rich look and creates great contrast”), and suggests sassing up a basic black dress with brightly colored tights. “It’s a more playful way of going about your day,” she says, “and because it’s so unexpected, it looks fun and sophisticated at the same time.”
Wear Out-of-season Clothes
Fashion pros are no longer packing away their summer wardrobe when fall comes. “Playing with traditional seasonal wear off-season creates an eclectic look,” says Stewart. “And it can make a dreary wintertime wardrobe of black and camel pop with a hit of vivacious summer color.” Toss a cable-knit wool sweater over a silk tank dress; layer a black, ivory or gray cashmere tee under your favorite brightly colored summer maxi dress; or pair a sheer skirt with knee-high boots.
With a new wave of denim in different weights, cuts and shades, you can mix and match to create a fresh style. Balance and contrast will help you avoid looking like you’re drowning in a sea of denim, advises Stewart. Pair a sleek denim pencil skirt with a denim jacket in a heavier weight or an inky tailored jacket with jeans in a lighter shade. Get creative and stay comfortable — just remember the ultimate denim do: Vary the styles — color and weight — of fabric on top and bottom.