The 10 Style Rules

 This is the list of rules that I have made for myself when it comes to selecting outfits and putting together looks. By following these rules, you too can change the way that you look at clothing.

1.) The Black/Brown Rule

Now, I know most of you are going to think that this is the “You shouldn’t mix black and brown” rule, but it’s not. This rule is number 1 for a reason, because it can completely change the way that you look at clothing. In my opinion, each article of clothing is either “Black” or “Brown,” meaning it should be worn in a color scheme that would work with its designated black/brown. You might see me explaining an outfit as a “brown outfit,” not meaning that the outfit itself is brown, but that the clothing items all go together because they are all “brown” pieces. Sometimes, items can be worn either way, so remember that not every piece of clothing is strictly black or strictly brown. A good example of a Brown outfit is this:
And here is an example of a black outfit:
It may sound like a weird concept at first, but it is honestly one of the most basic mistakes I see people making. Someone will wear a shirt that is clearly a “black” shirt with a pair of “brown” pants. Understanding this rule will put you miles ahead of most people when it comes to fashion.

2.) Don’t Overcomplicate

This rule is exactly what you think it is. It is easy to get carried away and add too many elements to a look. Sometimes you have to step back and realize that you don’t need to be wearing a hat with your already loud outfit. Are you wearing multiple patterns? Should you wear a more plain shirt with your colored denim pants? These are all questions I have asked myself in the past. Freshman year of college I used to wear a lot of items at once, and I looked like this:
Looking back, I realize that what I needed to do was stop overcomplicating. By doing simple things like ditching the hat and changing the loud shirt, I could tone down the  outfit and look so much better. Maybe I wanted to wear the loud shirt? I can just take off the hoodie and I could even add the hat again while still not overcomplicating:

3.) Pick a Statement Piece

This rule goes hand in hand with rule number 2. By overcomplicating, you make the pieces in your outfit compete for attention. When you hear someone say “Wow, that outfit is way too loud.” it’s because there are too many elements and the outfit should be simplified. Technically you can kill two birds with one stone, and follow rule 2 by following rule 3, picking a statement piece. A statement piece is the element of an outfit that stands out, or is the featured article of the look. My example for this rule is a pair of pants from UrbanOutfitters.com that I bought myself for Christmas one year. They were in the sale section so I decided to buy them:


They are the perfect example of a statement piece, because no matter what I wear with them, they are always the focal point of the outfit. Because of the pattern on the pants, I always wear a plain shirt with them so that none of the attention is pulled from the pants. Its fine to have crazy ridiculous clothing, but just don’t wear all your ridiculous items all at once. Colored jeans? wear a plain shirt. Crazy patterned flannel? Great, just don’t wear your multicolored high top sneakers with it. Let one item speak for the whole outfit. Here are some more examples:
4.) Be Appropriate

I’m not talking about your maturity, or how much skin you are showing. I’m talking about time, place, and season. I’m guessing I don’t need to explain to you what kinds of clothes are summer clothes and what kinds are winter clothes. You’re not going to be wearing your neon tank top in December, that’s obvious. Time also plays a factor. Typically, brown outfits are more appropriate in the daytime and black outfits are more appropriate at night. Of course there are exceptions.

Where are you? New York City? Fine, wear the loudest outfit you want because no one will look twice at you for being ridiculous. Oh, wait, you’re in State College, PA? You probably shouldn’t wear your mesh shirt. Although I think everyone should strive to stand out, let your internal scale be the judge as to whether you’re being a little too much for where you are. Also, are you going to a dive bar? you probably shouldn’t wear your club outfit. And one of my personal rules of thumb is that a brown outfit should never ever EVER make its way to a dance floor.

5.) Ignore Labels

There are endless styles of clothing, just like there are endless styles of people. Personally, I would never be caught dead in a pair of Sperry’s and a Polo button down. It’s just not my style. Some of you reading this might say “Hey, that IS my style!” and that is fine, but knowing that Polo IS your style is half the battle. Many people seem to conform to a one-word-adjective style like “Preppy” or “Punk” and I just don’t believe that we need to be defined or confined by words like that. I shop at a variety of stores, from H&M to Pacsun. Although I’m embarrassed to say, most of my underwear is from American Eagle. For example, I got this shirt at Pacsun:

But it is nowhere near what you would expect from Pacsun. Sometimes you find some of your favorite things in the strangest places. I don’t let the label distract me from finding stuff I think is cool. Wear the clothes you like, and don’t let names, labels, or “styles” deter you.

6.) Take Risks

Other than rule number 1, this is the most important rule on the list. Guys have a bad habit of staying in their comfort zone when it comes to clothes. Not thinking outside of the box is what happens when someone is devoid of style. You don’t have to buy the craziest things you find, but don’t let yourself stay in the place forever. See a shirt that is kinda weird but you awkwardly like? Buy it. Wear it a few times. If you hate it, throw it away, but at least you tried. You put one foot in the door. You stepped out of your comfort zone.

7.) Be Confident

You can’t take risks unless you back them up with confidence. The worst thing you can do is be self conscious about your clothes. People can tell, and then you just look like you’re trying too hard or you simply just don’t know what you’re doing. I know this is probably the most cliche fashion quote, but it is accurate and everyone should follow it: Wear the clothes, Don’t let the clothes wear you. You have to rock your outfit, because without that, what’s even the point?

8.) Know When To Say No

Rules 6 and 7 are all about being confident and stepping outside of your box. This next rule is designed to keep those rules in check. Too much freedom can be a bad thing, that is why you need to know when to say no. You should frequently take risks and try new things, but should you spend $75 dollars on a shirt that you are unsure about just for the sake of taking a risk? Absolutely not. At the end of the day, that really unique and crazy shirt you spend $75 dollars on is going to sit in the back of your closet until you bring it to Plato’s Closet three years later. You should take risks, just know you are taking the right ones.

9.) Make Sure The Clothes Fit

This is one of the last rules because although it’s important, it’s common sense. Make sure your clothes fit you. I know you love those new jeans, but you wear a 32 and they only have 29s and 34s. Sorry, but you need to find those new jeans elsewhere. Also, make sure nothing is too loose or too tight in the wrong places. This rule is all about knowing the shape of your body and what looks good on you. I don’t know what you look like, so this is something you will have to figure it out on your own, mainly by simple trial and error.

10.) Have Fun

This rule, although not important to have good style, is crucial. Have fun with your clothing. Stop being so serious, let your clothes give you good self esteem. I do this all the time. When I have to screen one of my projects in class, I dress up to boost my confidence. Most of all, just let style be a creative outlet for you. Express yourself through your clothes. Let looking good be a hobby, not just a chore you have to do every day.