When Molly Buckley interviewed me on WCHL a few years ago she asked a familiar burning fashion question. “Once and for all, when can I start wearing white?” Good question Molly. Do I give the Emily Post “by the fashion rule book” response or the answer with the regional twist? Molly got my wardrobe wheels spinning and planted the seed for this column. (Thanks Molly!) As a style coach, clients routinely ask me questions regarding wardrobe rules. So, I’m sharing a few of the most frequently asked questions and some “guidelines” to follow.
When can I start wearing white?
To answer Molly’s question, the old school rule used to be from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This rule always applied more to wearing white shoes than it did to white clothing. Historically, wearing white marked the start of the summer season. Time to head to the summer house in the Hamptons for the New York City slickers or the beach cottage on the Outer Banks (insert favorite beach destination) for the southern folks. You would wear lighter weight whites in the summer simply to stay cool (especially with a lack of AC back in the day). Come Labor Day and cooler temps, it was time to transition the wardrobe and pack away the whites and pull out the darker clothing. No matter where you live, more people than ever are breaking this rule. Even Emily Post’s most recent manners bible gives the go-ahead for wearing white after Labor Day. Fortunately, we here in the south get to break a lot of fashion rules. (Like wearing flip flops year round!) Why? Because it’s usually piping hot long before Memorial Day and into the fall, so we can get away with it!
By the way, head-to-toe white just happens to be a hot trend this summer. The key to this look is mixing textures to give your all-white look dimension and interest. And the challenge is not spilling your morning coffee and watching where you sit!
Guideline: Let the heat outside and the fabric of the garment be your guide. You can wear a crisp white cotton button down shirt all year long, but save the white linen for spring and summer. Once the heat cranks up outside feel free to break out the white in full force. As for white shoes, I like to stick with the old school rule as much as possible.
How can I keep up with fashion trends each season without spending a fortune?
Guideline: My advice is to take inspiration from fashion trends you see or read about it when shopping each season. It doesn’t mean you have to buy a new wardrobe or embrace every trend as your own. You can incorporate a few fresh pieces each season without breaking the bank by just adding some new jewelry or a few accent pieces. Most importantly, wear the trends within the context of your own style. Your unique personal style should always come first!
Men often ask, should my belt and shoes match?
Guideline: This is a great rule to follow and makes it simple. Brown shoes, brown belt. Black shoes, black belt. The browns don’t have to match exactly, but they should be in the same color family. If you wear athletic shoes every day that means you’re probably wearing jeans, so keep the belt casual.
Should socks match your pants or your shoes?
Guideline: The official rule on socks is that they should match the color of your pants. Socks with patterns are an exception. And save your white socks for the gym!
Most of my trousers have pleats, can I pull off flat-front pants that seem to be so popular?
Guideline: Most men can wear a flat-front trouser, even when carrying a few extra pounds. Three reasons I vote for flat-front versus pleats….they have a slimming effect, they are very fashionable and they just look better. Give ‘em a try!
Some people would say the most important rule of fashion is there are no rules anymore! So don’t get caught up in the “rules.” Fashion rules are meant to be broken by those who can pull it off. Just use good judgment, and make sure to take a peek in the mirror before you walk out the door!
“Fashion is all about happiness. It’s fun. It’s important.
But it’s not medicine.” Donatella Versace
Those are my fashion thoughts for the day. What are your fashion rules or questions? Feel free to comment.