Fashion is a form of self-expression – but it operates within a boundary of set rules. There are do’s and don’ts in the fashion world, dictates that experts are aware of but often unfamiliar to everyone else. We’ve put together a list of important but often misunderstood fashion principles, making it easy for anyone to rock fashion and nail the perfect look.
The secret to well-fitting clothes
Clothes should be neither too loose, nor too tight. Perfectly fitting clothing will look good and be comfortable enough to wear in a variety of scenarios. The secret to well-fitting clothes? Many swear by Lycra – a synthetic incorporated in fabric blends to provide freedom of movement, superior fit, and durability. Specifically, a Lycra blend of 95% cotton and 5% Lycra is optimal. If possible, look for 2% Lycra in jeans.
Checking the quality of cashmere
Cashmere used to be reserved for the wealthiest fashionistas. Today cashmere clothing can be surprisingly affordable but when found at low prices, you must pay attention to the quality of the cashmere piece. To check the quality of cashmere, stretch the garment and note how it snaps back into place. Quality cashmere will quickly return to its original shape.
Other uses for clip-on earrings
In addition to convenience, clip on earrings can be attached to other items of clothing to add an instant splash of color. Attach clip-on earrings to shoes, shirt sleeves, or collars for an unexpected dash of color. Even a tired piece can be refreshed with this ingenious fashion hack.
The proper hem length for pant
Proper hem lengths seem to vary with the winds of fashion. Thankfully, fashion experts have a tried and true rule for pant hem lengths. Pant hems should barely touch the top of the shoe and be from ½-inch to ¾-inch from the floor. A bit of leeway can be achieved by carefully positioning the pant waist and cinching it with a belt.
The cure for short fingers
Of course we can’t physically lengthen short fingers, but we can create the appearance of longer, slender fingers by wearing pear, oval, and marquise ring shapes. These elongated ring shapes flow with the finger, creating the illusion of lengthier, willowy fingers.
The proper length for pencil skirts
Christian Dior introduced the modern pencil skirt in his 1954 Autumn Winter collection. These slim-fitting skirts with a straight, narrow cut have never gone out of style. But if a pencil skirt is too short it looks garish and if too long, well, it becomes impossible to walk. The proper length of the pencil skirt should just touch the top of the knee.
The maximum number of colors in an outfit
When it comes to colors, too few will look dull and too many will look kitschy. Experts know that an outfit should never be based on more than three colors. One color will act as the prominent color while the second will be used to compliment or contrast the first color. The third color can be used to highlight the first two. Neutral colors can always be mixed in for added effect.
The art of tucking in a shirt
Tucked or untucked are not the only options when wearing a shirt. It takes a bit of practice, but the art of tucking can dramatically change the look of an outfit. Work to master the front tuck, navel tuck (a thumb-sized tuck placed directly underneath the belly button), half tuck (one-sided tuck), and full tuck and never be afraid to try a different tuck, or a variation of the above, to alter the appearance of your ensemble.
How much skin should I show?
The right balance of skin is required to maintain a stylish look without looking trashy. When it comes to the amount of skin to bare, there is an inverse relationship between the top and the bottom of the outfit. If you are wearing a mini skirt or shorts, show less skin on top. Similarly, if the top shows cleavage, wear full-coverage bottoms to balance the look.
How to create the illusion of a longer torso
Gone are the days of tightly laced bodices, torturous binders, restrictive corsets, and other uncomfortable shapewear. Today we can create the illusion of a specific shape using a variety of methods. One common trick is to wear V-neck tops to create the illusion of a longer torso.
Diamonds aren’t always a girl’s best friend
Even professional jewelers using a magnifying glass have a hard time telling the difference between diamonds and cubic zirconia (CZ) stones. Surprisingly, since all diamonds have flaws, the final determinate is usually that the CZ stone is too perfect. Wear cubic zirconia pieces and save the money. Nobody will be able to tell the difference and if the piece gets lost, it’s not the end of the world.
Classic pieces never go out of style
Never forget how classic pieces earned their name – they never go out of style. Every wardrobe should contain an assortment of classic pieces such as the white shirt, trench coat, leather handbag, little black dress (LBD), jeans, court shoes, trouser suit, plain white trainers, Breton tops, strappy sandals, and cashmere knit sweater.
The stitch that’s meant to be removed
Ever noticed the “X” that is stitched into the back of coats and jackets? It’s supposed to be removed. You’ll find similar stitching (often wildly off-color) in the shoulders and vents of jackets. These stitches help keep the piece’s shape during shipping. Snip it and gently pull to avoid an embarrassing fashion faux pas.
How to pick the proper earring for your face
Recognize the shape of your face and pick the appropriate earring to enhance your facial look. Larger round or embellished hoop earrings will create the illusion of a wider face while elongated hoop earrings will make a face appear less round. Drop earrings with no taper look best on heart-shaped faces. Studs or triangular shape earrings look best on oval faces.
How to tone down that bust
Most women with larger breasts look for ways to tone them down. One way to make a large bustline appear smaller is to wear a waistband higher than your natural waist. This places more emphasis on the lower half of the body. A small necklace can be added to draw the eyes above the chest.
Spiffing up a scarf while improving its utility
Attach a pair of earrings to the end of your scarf to weigh it down. This creates a richly visual, yet functional accessory.
Stock up on basics
Always keep basics on hand so you can layer. Make sure you have tops, pants, and sweaters in neutral colors (black, gray, white). These go with everything and can be layered for a classic, timeless look.
Stock up on accessories
Keep plenty of accessories on hand too. Accessories like hats, sunglasses, scarves, and jewelry can make a drab outfit appear fashionable. However, if a bold “statement” piece is incorporated, tone down the rest of the accessories to maintain a balanced look.
How to fit a hat
Since hats are less common today than in prior eras, the proper fit is often no more than a wild guess. A properly fitted hat should sit about 1/8-inch to ½-inch above the ears.
Watch the neckline of your clothing
The neckline of your clothing is an especially important consideration. The neckline frames your face, so you must get it right. Fit the neckline to the body first: crew necks work well for long necks and wide shoulders, boat necks with pear shapes and slim shoulders, button-ups with small shoulders and athletic or curvy shapes, halters with wide shoulders and straight midsections, and V-necks with petite shapes and small shoulders. Then fit the neckline to the face: V-necks elongate the face and work well for wide, round faces, square necklines to balance round faces, high necklines for long faces, and sweetheart necklines for angular faces.
Take care with denim
Rarely should you double up on denim unless you wear dark, slim fitting pants and a lighter slim fitting top. If double-denim is a must, a belt can be used to break things up.
Matching leopard patterns
Leopard patterns remain popular today. To match leopard, consider a neutral color (black, white, gray). Neutral colors go with anything and look especially nice with subtle prints.
The all-important third element
To show off your fashion sense, always include a third element in your outfit. It takes just three elements to make an outfit look amazing. For example, if pants and top are the first and second elements, polish off the look with a statement bag, fancy coat, classic sunglasses, or gorgeous shoes.
Tight or loose
Proper fit follows a simple rule: if the pants are tight, opt for a looser fitting top. If the top is tight, opt for looser fitting pants. If the tightness/looseness of top and bottom have an inverse relationship, a classy, fashionable look will result.
It’s okay to toss the belt
Don’t always assume you must wear a belt with an outfit. Certainly, they are needed to hold pants up but if not, treat belts like an accessory and only wear one if it adds to the look of your outfit.
Picking the right coat(s)
If you live in a colder region, one with more than three months of winter, you regularly wear a coat. Make it part of your look. Buy a ¾ length, peacoat, and crop jacket in neutral colors (black, beige, gray) and you can be assured you’ll always have a coat to match your outfit.
Skin tone and jewelry
When choosing jewelry, consider your skin tone. Gold goes well with darker hair and browner skin tones. Cooler skin tones look best with red, purple, or blue gems, Warmer skin tones look best with yellow, orange, and green gemstones.
Make those legs look long
A popular trick with fashion experts is to match shoe colors with pants to make the legs appear longer.
Flats or heels
Another simple fashion rule of thumb: if the skirt hits above the knee, wear flats. If the skirt falls below the knee, wear heels. It’s that simple.
A tailor just for you
Don’t presume off-the-shelf clothing will fit you perfectly. If you do, your expectations will be crushed more often than not. Instead, make it a point to use a tailor to finish off your pieces and make them uniquely yours.
The most important fashion rule
When in doubt, overdress rather than underdress. It’s always better to err on the side of dressy.