Whether you were taught you should always match your shoes with your belt or that sequins are for nighttime only, it's time to shake off these tired misconceptions. If you go shopping with a long list of things that you "can't wear" in mind, the whole experience is going to feel daunting – and not much fun.
"The truth is that limiting yourself with these old-school style rules can prevent you from looking like the best version of yourself," says Rachel Matthews Burton, a Canadian fashion stylist who helps women revamp their wardrobes on a regular basis.
We asked Burton to help demystify some of the most common fashion myths. Here are her top tips.
Myth No. 1: "I have a big chest, so I can't wear prints."
Actually, the opposite is true. "Prints act as great camouflage, because the eyes see the lovely print, not the area you're trying to cover up," says Burton.
The only rule to keep in mind is scale. If you've got a larger bust, stick with bigger and bolder patterns as smaller designs can get lost.
Myth No. 2: "I'm pear shaped, so that means no figure-hugging skirts."
If you know what to look for, a tighter skirt can be flattering on any woman. The best option is a mermaid-cut skirt that flares at, or below, the knee.
"You want form-fitting as opposed to A-line," says Burton. If you're shy when it comes to curve-hugging clothes, invest in good-quality undergarments. The right shape-wear, such as Spanx, will smooth any lumps and bumps, and help you feel more confident in tighter clothes.
Myth No. 3: "I'm too short to wear long dresses."
Petite women think being short means donning only clothes with short hemlines. Not so. Just because a maxi dress touches your toes doesn't make it off-limits.
"Wearing a long dress with wedge heels will create a really nice, unbroken long and lean line," says Burton. It can actually elongate your figure. It's important for the dress to fit properly, though, so it doesn't overpower your frame. And if your dress is dragging on the ground, that's a no-no. Take it to a tailor to get it hemmed to the right length.
Page 1 of 3 -- Learn how to mix contrasting colours, plus how to wear white pants on page 2
Myth No. 4: "I'll clash if I mix contrasting colours in one outfit."
This season is all about colour-blocking bold and daring hues together. (Scarlet reds were paired up with shocking pinks all over the red carpets and runways).
Colour-blocking works best when the cut of the clothing is simple – so skip ruffles or other fabric details and let the colour do the talking.
When trying to figure out what colours to put together, Burton's rule of thumb is to experiment with paint chips. "It's a great way to find inspiration and to create colour combinations you may not have thought about before," she says.
When mixing prints, make sure you keep patterns within the same colour palette. "This way it doesn't get confusing and your eyes don't go into overdrive," says Burton.
Myth No. 5: "I'm bottom heavy, so I shouldn't wear white pants."
Many women will default to black pants because they think they're the most slimming. "It's always about cut over colour," says Burton.
When shopping, opt for a pair of white pants that fit well, over a pair of black pants that don't. If you want to feel more confident while wearing white, invest in nude shape-wear (such as nude shorts) to wear underneath your white pants. A common error is wearing white under white, which will only make your undergarments more noticeable.
Myth No. 6: "I love accessories, but I never mix gold and silver together."
Not only can you pair gold and silver, but you can add bronze to the mix, too. Above all else, it's important to pay attention to the lustre of the material.
"If you want to make your look complementary, keep the sheen similar," says Burton. In other words, don't mix a matte silver with a high-gloss rose gold.
Page 2 of 3 -- Wear high heels, sequined tops and a colourful statement piece with confidence guided by our tips on page 3
Myth No. 7: "I'm really tall, so I should never wear heels."
The high-heel trick of the trade? Walk tall, no matter your height. "I love tall women in a pair of heels," says Burton. "Nothing conveys more confidence."
When it comes to the shoe type, select a style with a strap that cuts below the anklebone. "This is a lot more flattering than something that cuts above the bone, which truncates the leg," Burton says.
Myth No. 8: "I save my sequins for fancy events and holiday parties."
Sequined items are statement pieces you can showcase any time of year. It's more about how you piece your outfit together: Wear one standout shimmery piece and play down the rest of your outfit, says Burton. Try a sequined blazer with dark denim jeans and flats for a flattering daytime look.
Myth No. 9: "I have to match my purse with my shoes."
Matching your purse, shoes and belt is boring. Not only that, but you can get more mileage out of your wardrobe if you mix and match different colours, textures and fabrics together.
For instance, if you have a new favourite black purse, spice it up by wearing a pair of leopard-print flats with it.
Another idea: "If you're somebody who dresses in head-to-toe black and wants to try colour-blocking, start small with shoes and a belt," says Burton. For instance, wear a navy pair of heels with a moss green belt. Take baby steps, and see where you end up.
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