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5 Rules of Dressing You Need to Know

Posted June 07, 2018

Are rules of dressing outdated? 

It may seem like anything goes in fashion these days.  And traditional rules can be antiquated and confusing. For example,  if you're not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, how is "winter white" a thing? It's true that breaking fashion rules can be edgy and modern—two attributes that are essential to great fashion.  But some fashion rules are still indespensible. Following basic fashion principles allows you to express yourself with confidence, while always appearing put together. Just consider Britain's royal family. They follow strict rules of fashion, and despite this (or perhaps because of it?) the royal family are fashion icons. 

Adhering to the rules of fashion is particularly important in a professional setting.

Common mistakes, like buttoning all the buttons on your suit jacket, can make you look unlearned and inexperienced. Following the fashion rules outlined below (and in the video above) will ensure you appear savvy and polished. 

5 rules of dressing you need to know now

The ultimate rule of fashion is: alter your clothes. Alterations can dramatically  improve your appearance. Altered clothing will fit you perfectly and flatter your frame. They'll also make  your wardrobe look more expensive and bespoke. Alterations are an incredibly inexpensive way to become instantly more fashionable.  Don't skip them!  

But once you have your perfectly altered clothing, here are 5 rules for how to wear them. 

Bottom Button1) Never use the bottom button on your suit jacket.

We see this ALL THE TIME. Men and women everywhere make this rookie mistake everyday. No matter the circumstance, the bottom button on your suit jacket should never be buttoned. Are you walking home in the howling Maine winter without an overcoat? Don't button that button. Did all the other buttons on your jacket fall off? Don't button that button. Why not? We suspect this rule has to do with it being easier and more flattering to sit down with the button undone. But whatever the reason, the bottom button on a suit jacket is purely decorative. Button the top button only. If you are wearing a three-button jacket, you may button the middle button, or not, as you wish. But you should never use the bottom button on your suit jacket. (This goes for double-breasted suit jackets as well.)

2) Your tie should extend just slightly below your waist.

This is another common error, and frankly, it's a tough one to get right. But with practice, you'll learn exactly where to start tying your tie so the end lands correctly, just below your waist.  Your tie should not hover above your belt, or hang down over your zipper. You really want to hit the midpoint of your belt, or just cover the belt with the tip of the tie. Tying your tie too short or too long can have a comical effect. But ties that hang at the proper place are elegant and elongating. It's worth the time to get this right. 

3)  At most, you can unbutton the top two buttons on your shirt.

This is certainly true in a professional setting, but it's a good fashion rule to follow in your off-hours as well. Unbuttoning the top button or two on your shirt is relaxed, and even charming. Do not be tempted to overdo it by unbuttoning that third button. You'll immediately trend toward looking tacky and unkempt.

BELTS4) You should wear a belt if your shirt is tucked in. 

Whether you're wearing a t-shirt or a dress shirt, if you're tucking it into your pants, you should also wear a belt. The belt will create a clean line that is flattering and put-together. Ideally, the belt will be the same color as your shoes. Many people invest in both a black and a brown belt for workwear. It's a good idea to buy the best quality belts you can afford, as they will last longer and be less bulky. 

5) Dresses should show skin at the top or bottom—not both.

This fashion rule is commonly broken, but remember: less is not more. Which is to say, less fabric does not usually make you look more amazing. It's important to leave something to the imagination. If you're wearing a dress with a short skirt, choose a modest neckline. If the dress is low-cut, opt for a below-the-knee skirt. If you pay attention to celebrity red carpets, you'll find that the celebrities who make the "best dressed" lists generally adhere to this rule. 

That's it! Follow these 5 rules of dressing, and you'll always be turned out in style. 

Do you follow a fashion rule we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments! 

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Tags: Fashion and style

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