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40 Common Fashion Tips Women Should Always Ignore

Because some rules are meant to be broken.

Every woman knows the feeling of putting together a fun, daring outfit only to stop in her tracks and think: "Wait—is this allowed?"

You know the drill: "Do polka dots go with stripes?" "Can you actually wear white jeans in winter?" And, super importantly: "What's the deal with denim on denim—is that a look anyone can pull off, or only those fashionistas on Instagram?"

But that's the great thing about fashion in in the age of #youdoyou. There's no need to worry about whether or not you can wear something, only whether or not you want to. You don't have to listen to your grandmother's belief that wearing a skirt with pantyhose is sacrilege. You can mix silver and gold jewelry if you feel like it. And leggings are pants—end of story. So read on for the 40 style tips you should feel more than comfortable ditching. And for more fashion advice, check out 20 Fashion Trends You Should Actually Try in 2019.

"Remove one accessory before leaving the house."

Clothing Choices Making You Look Older

Coco Chanel once said, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off."

But, nowadays, fashion icons like Iris Apfel prove the new rule is the more accessories, the more fabulous. So go ahead and layer those sunglasses, scarves, bracelets, and necklaces. In 2019, it's all about being loud and proud. And if you're looking for some items to add to your wishlist, check out the 50 Essential Accessories for Women Over 50.

"You can't wear navy and black together."

navy and black outfit

This rule is so enduring that even the thought of a navy dress with black heels could make some women shudder. But there's nothing that says you're a stylish professional like a navy top over black pants or a navy shift with a black belt. To see which trends you should actually stay away from, here are the 30 Worst Fashion Trends of 2018.

"Horizontal stripes will make you look heavy."

2018 fashion trends

Somewhere along the line, women became convinced that wearing horizontal stripes would make them appear wide. But it turns out, this is fundamentally untrue—even science says so. According to the Helmholtz illusion, a square composed of horizontal lines appears taller and narrower than an identical square made up of vertical lines. That's the only proof we need to snatch up all the horizontal-striped shirts, skirts, and dresses we please. 

"Leggings aren't pants."

Winter accessories

Um, yes, they are. If they cover your legs and aren't transparent, they qualify as pants. For a more modest look, pair them with an oversized sweater or tunic. And to see what an actual fashion faux-pas looks like, check out the Biggest Fashion Misses of 2018

"You can't wear red and pink together."

pink and red outfit

For years, women kept their reds far from their pinks—lest the fashion gods look down on them. But recently, pairing colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel has come en vogue. We suggest you start pairing pink and red, green and yellow, and navy and turquoise ASAP. And for some things you definitely shouldn't wear—at least during the nine-to-five—read up on the 40 Things No Woman Over 40 Should Wear to the Office.

"You can't mix patterns."

style tips

In the same way that fashion-savvy women used to never clash colors, they also refused to mix patterns. But in this day and age, successfully mixing patterns is the ultimate accomplishment. And guess what? It's super easy. To pull it off, make sure your prints share a single color and then pair patterns of different scales. But really, with the right amount of confidence, you can pull off anything. 

"Petite women can't wear maxi or midi skirts."

fashion tips

Skirts that fall to the floor or reach below the knee have long been considered off-limits for women who aren't exactly tall. But even petite ladies can wear midi and maxi items. All you have to do to make this look work is pair your skirt with a form-fitting top so you're not drowning in fabric. 

"Tall women shouldn't wear heels."


If you're taller than the average woman—or man—then you've probably been told your entire life that high-heels are a major no-no. Instead, stop thinking of height as a bad thing. If you're a tall woman, you can, and should, wear whatever shoes you like. 

"You shouldn't have long hair after 46."

jealous husband

One Retire Savvy poll of 2,000 people determined that by the time a woman is 46 years old, she should opt for a shorter hairstyle. If you want to chop your hair because you've always wanted a lob, then head to the salon and make it happen. But you shouldn't feel like you need to make the leap merely because you're in your mid-forties. And if you, like Jane Seymour, have taken expert care of your luscious locks, there's no reason not to flaunt them, especially since they can make you look a decade younger. 

"You should stop wearing skinny jeans at 47."

dressing well in your 50s

The same Retire Savvy survey also stated that women should ditch their skinny jeans by the time they're 47. But, so long as you feel comfortable, this rule deserves to be ignored. 

"You can't wear bright nail polish as an adult."

Disorganized bottles of nail polish, makeup

Who said being an adult means you have to trade in your fire-engine red for ballet-slipper pink? Not everyone is into electrifying nail colors, but if you love indulging in vibrant shades, then you should do just that no matter your age.

"You shouldn't fall for passing fads."

2018 fashion trends

By their very nature, fads come and go, which is why it might seem unwise to indulge in too many pieces that are likely to go out of style sooner rather than later. But fashion isn't always about being practical. If a fad strikes your fancy, feel free to fall for it like love at first sight.

"You can't wear mini-skirts after 35."

mini skirt

According to The Daily Mail, when 2,000 women were asked when they thought women should stop wearing mini-skirts, their responses averaged 35 years old. But we say it's up to the individual. If you still feel great in your minis, you should keep them in your closet for however long you want. 

"You need to focus your shopping efforts on staple pieces."

A wire shelf system from Home Depot

You may have always been told that it's important to build a closet full of pricey staples that can last for years to come. But you don't have to treat all of your clothes like an investment. It's just as acceptable to fill your closet with pieces that are thrilling, exciting, and totally impractical. For a cheaper way to find fun new items, learn the 8 Tips for Shopping a Thrift Store Like a Fashion Stylist

"You should banish short-shorts from your wardrobe in your 20s."

short shorts, hot pants, daisy dukes

Who What Wear suggests eliminating short-shorts from your wardrobe by the time you're in your 20s. However, even their etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman, admits the choice is entirely subjective. And while she suggests picking different styles of shorts as you get older, it's all a matter of opinion and preference.

"You have to have a signature style."

best fashion trends

Adele is known for her cat-eye makeup. Anna Wintour is never spotted without her picture-perfect bob. And Cara Delevingne is famous for her daring men's wear. It's true that having a signature style can be a great way to carve out your own personal aesthetic. But not everyone has time for that. And if you can't define your personal style in a sentence or less, you shouldn't feel bad about it. 

"You can't wear dark makeup during the day."

makeup mistakes

Women often opt for lighter makeup during the day and more dramatic looks at night. But fortunately, there's no hard and fast rule. A subtle smokey eye could work just as well at 10 am as it does after midnight. 

"Red lipstick is always dramatic."

wearing rip lipstick can make you happy instantly

Stunning red lips tend to be the focus of many bold looks, which is why we tend to associate them with formal events and big nights out. However, there are plenty of ways to pull of a red lip during the day, whether you choose a dark crimson or a bright cherry. Just make sure to avoid the 30 Makeup Choices Making You Look Older

"You can't wear gold and silver jewelry at the same time."

gold bars, illustrating why gold is valuable

Your older relatives may scoff at the idea of mixing and matching gold and silver jewelry, but the fact is that the rule which forbids you from wearing both is as antiquated as grandma's cameo brooch. Still, the only way to pull off this look is to fully commit. Stack a pile of bracelets in various metals and weights on your wrist, or do the same with a couple of rings. Once you've had some practice, you can make an even bolder statement with a stack of tangled necklaces. 

"You shouldn't show too much skin."

A woman who is interested in an open relationship with long, sexy legs.Pick-Up Lines So Bad They Might Just Work

Ugh, not this one again! We can't believe we have to repeat it, but the amount of skin you decide to show is entirely up to you. People who say you need to wear skirts up to your knees and keep your shoulders covered need to get with the times (and mind their own business). 

"Sneakers are only for working out."

Sneakers, wardrobe

You may think that you have to save your sneakers for the gym, but that's definitely not true in an era when Yeezy sneakers are the most coveted shoes in town. 


"White glasses frames are only for the brave."

fashion tips

You don't have to be an art curator with a gallery in downtown L.A. to look amazing in bold glasses. And you certainly shouldn't think that white frames are only for the super-stylish. If you've always been tempted to try a light-rimmed option, then you should definitely head to your nearest shop and see which style suits you best.

"You need a little black dress in your closet."

body image woman in black dress

Sure, life might be a tiny bit easier if you have a little black dress in your closet to whip out at a moment's notice. But your go-to dress doesn't have to be black, and contrary to popular belief, you don't have to have this staple in your wardrobe to consider it complete. 

"High-heels are a must for formal events."

woman choosing shoes while on a sofa in a room with pink walls

Not all women want to wear heels—and fortunately, they don't have to. The Cannes Film Festival even faced a backlash in 2015 because of what The Guardian called their "tyrannical fashion policing" when the event's staff denied a group of women entry to a red carpet screening because the ladies, some of whom reportedly had medical conditions, arrived wearing flats.

"Faux fur and fake leather are tacky."

2018 fashion trends

Actually, the opposite is true. Wearing real fur has become so unpopular that San Francisco has banned stores from selling it.  And fashion has advanced enough so that you can buy a cruelty-free faux fur that even your great-grandmother couldn't tell apart from the real thing. Bonus points for saving money, too. 

"You need an accessory to complete your outfit."

Madewell necklace

There are two types of people: Those who love to accessorize and those who couldn't care less. And guess what? Both are totally acceptable. Don't feel compelled to drop a ton of cash on new jewelry and scarves just because you once read that no look is complete without an accessory. Minimalism is in, and we are here for it.

"Blazers are only for the office."

Blazer, wardrobe

Blazers aren't just for the boardroom anymore. The style that originally meant it was time for business can now be worn at any time of day. Wear a blazer with a skirt and heels for date night with your partner or pop one on with a T-shirt and jeans for brunch with your besties.

"You must be era-appropriate."

style tips

Dressing in modern attire may seem like an obvious expectation, but there are plenty of people who feel more like themselves while wearing styles that were popular in the past. If you've always admired the fashion of the '40s, then enjoy your A-line skirts. And if you want to dress like it's still the '60s, then whip out those bell bottoms and get groovy, baby!

"You can't wear a two-piece bathing suit after a certain age."

women wearing bikinis against a yellow background

If you've ever seen Helen Mirren killing it in a red bikini at the age of 63, you know that's simply not true. And to learn more about the history of this summer staple, check out the 20 Bikinis that Changed Everything

"You can't wear a two-piece bathing suit if you're over a certain weight."

fashion tips

Frigid fashion rules may also try to suggest that two-piece swimsuits are only suitable for tiny women with tightly toned abs. But the truth is, two-piece suits are perfect for women of all shapes and sizes. If you want to wear one to the beach or pool, or to just to hang out in the sunshine on your back deck, then that's exactly what you should do. 

"You can't wear sleeveless shirts or shorts in winter."

style tips

Sleeveless shirts and shorts are perfectly suited for hot summer days, but that doesn't mean that you have to pack them away when fall rolls around. Both can be layered to make them appropriate for the cooler weather. Add a long-sleeve shirt under your tank-top or pop a cardigan overtop. For shorts, just pull on a pair of opaque tights and over-the-knee boots for a style you can wear straight through winter. 

"You can only wear animal prints if you have a wild style."

style tips

Animal prints aren't only for women who are self-described "cougars." Nowadays, '80s fashion is back in business, so let your inner beast roar. 

"You can't wear rompers after 25"

romper, what not to wear, women

Who What Wear suggests that you stop wearing rompers by the time you're 25 to 30 years old. They also say that if you're still into the style by the time you're in your 30s, you consider a jumpsuit instead. However, considering jumpsuits and rompers are basically the same thing at different lengths, can one really be so much more taboo than the other? We think not. 

"You have to ditch your older pieces."

ripped denim jeans

If you have items of clothing that are ripped, tattered, stained, or generally falling apart, then you should definitely throw them out or put them to use as rags. But if something is still in good shape, wear it! After all, good clothing is a great investment provided you can take proper care of it. 

"You can only wear one bold color at a time."

woman with matching accessories

You might have heard that it's a fashion faux-pas to wear multiple bright colors at once. But color blocking bright hues isn't just a fun way to dress, it's also an incredibly popular style that you shouldn't be afraid to try.

"Menswear is for dudes only."

Sexist at Work

There's a reason Diana Keaton's trousers, button-down shirt, vest, and tie combo in Annie Hall is so iconic.


"It's a faux-pas to wear white after Labor Day."

white after labor day

If you read up on the history of how one of fashion's most well-known rules came to be, you'll see why this restriction is insanely outdated.

"You should always dress for the job you want."

This particular piece of advice may have good intentions, but honestly, it's not always practical. Not only do you risk coming off as a bit pretentious, but dressing like your boss is probably a bit out of your budget. Although you will want to avoid the 40 Things No Woman Should Ever Wear to Work.

"You have to be on trend."

woman in a tweed jacket standing in front of a taxi

If you like to stick with the hottest trends, then feel free to dress like you just stepped off of the runway. However, you don't have to be up with the latest styles. Fashion is meant to be fun and you should enjoy it in whatever way suits you best. 

"You can't wear denim on denim."

denim on denim

For years, this was an unbreakable rule. But we finally figured out how to make denim on denim work. The key to doing it effortlessly is to pair various washes together so that it doesn't look too monochromatic. And for more style tips, check out the 30 Best Fashion Trends of 2018.

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Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more
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