Basic fashion rules for those of us raised by wolves/hippies

In the “Brown Slacks” thread, I have been reminded once again that I am a fashion idiot. I was raised by parents who were never taught the rules of fashion themselves, and who not only don’t consider them important, but think it’s vain and a waste of time and money to worry about such things. I have a photo of myself at church at age 13 wearing a navy blue dress, black pantyhose, and white pumps. Years later, I saw this picture and realized that wasn’t right, so I guess I’ve learned a few things since then, but in the “Brown Slacks” thread I was told I shouldn’t wear a light gray shirt with tan-khaki pants. Who knew? Not me.

I’m not completely clear on which colors do and don’t match, and how you can tell. I spent a long time wearing only black clothes, not because I was goth, but because I knew I couldn’t dress myself and had given up. Then someone told me there were different shades of black and some of them didn’t match each other. That is completely unfair to the fashion-impaired. I know people judge you by the clothes you wear, regardless of whether that’s really fair, and I don’t want to hold myself back anymore.

I’m not asking for advice on what’s in style right now. I know how to look in magazines and see what’s in stores. I gravitate toward simple shirts and pants (work is pretty much anything but jeans except Friday, when jeans are allowed), so I just need to know about basic colors and styles, how to mix and match them, and maybe advice on shoes (and socks, when needed). I can’t be the only one who’s fuzzy on some of these details. I don’t aspire to be on any best-dressed lists, but I don’t want my clothes to announce to the world that I’m a clueless freak. They should have to get to know me better before they figure that out.

After several particularly ugly combinations, one year my TAs all decended on my closet and “G’Animal’d” all my clothes. It was at that point that I started wearing black jeans and Hawaiian shirts exclusively. Saves so many decisions. Now I know I’m dressed inappropriately. And I can live with that.

Likewise. Hawaiian shirts year round.

No muss, no fuss.

Never wear hose darker than your shoes.

Never ever ever wear pantyhose with open-toed shoes. I will hunt you down just to point and laugh at you.

Learn to love black, white, and gray. They go with everything.

I was, as recently as yesterday, very excited because I have ordered shirts embroidered with my business logo (I own a small retail store) and 4 pair of the least unflattering pants I could find. I never have to wonder what to wear to work again. Then my sister asked…“are you gonna wear 'em on Sundays, too?” Damn! So I still have to figure it out once in a while.
What I truly don’t get is accessorizing. do these earings go? Long necklace worn over the shirt or simple chain worn inside it - I see women wearing scarves, and it looks simple enough but when I try it I feel as if I’m playing dress up. I wish there were classes.

I’d give hawaiian shirts a try, but they need to be ironed, don’t they?

Join one of the armed forces. They will tell you what to wear, how to wear it, when to wear it, and they will provide it for you.

“Does this bullet-proof vest make me look fat?”

If you buy high-quality cotton shirts, or cotton-rayon blends, then no. Hang them up still a bit damp from the dryer and they’ll be fine. All rayon shirts, OTOH, tend to need the touch of an iron.

Does this apply to, say, Tommy Bahama? I thought those had to be dry cleaned. Are they possibly silk…?

Reyn’s is the best for never needing to iron.

Should I state it more clearly that I’m female? I would love to wear Hawaiian shirts to work every day, but I’m not sure it’s going to help in my campaign to be taken more seriously.
ETA: I see ivylass noticed. :slight_smile: I try to avoid wearing pantyhose at all these days, and if I have to wear them, I go for a nude shade. My mom wears hose with sandals and other open-toed shoes all the time, though. I’m going to tell her to quit doing that.

Or Paradise On A Hanger.

John, silk Hawaiian shirts should always be ironed, but oh, so very gently.

I usually take groups of my shirts (I own 86 of them) in to be dry-cleaned every few months, instead of washing them. Seems to reinvigorate the fabric a bit. Otherwise they get washed with the other stuff, just not dried on hot (bad for the all-natural buttons).

Only the first set. After that you have to replace them yourself.

Things may be different in this modern age, but when I enlisted in the Navy us guys were issued a full kit, including skivvies. The women were given an allowance so they could buy their own small clothes.

Your use of the word “pumps” in the OP should have been a giveaway. It’s true that I never wear pantyhose, even when I wear a skirt, but that’s neither here nor there. I’ve yet to meet a man that knows exactly what “pumps” might be, when used to describe an article of clothing.

For many years my wardrobe was made up of black docker-type things and a variety of corporate-logo’d polo shirts. I have expanded (my wardrobe as well) and now have a nice selection of kinda beigey looking docker-type pants as well.

And a damn fine kilt, but that’s just for when it’s windy.

Maybe I should ask specific questions, such as:

How do you decide what color socks to wear? When I was in junior high in the late '80s, the big preppie thing was to match your socks to the color of your shirt, which of course was hot pink or turquoise or lime green. I doubt that’s useful fashion advice anymore though. If I’m wearing a white shirt, black pants, and black shoes, if I wear white socks I’ll look like Michael Jackson circa 1988, right? So when do the white socks work? Only with brown shoes?

I personally don’t think “clashing” is that bad if you make it look intentional and know how to work your look.

Walk into an H&M and you’ll see what I mean.

Oh sure, I know how to “work my look,” as well as how to achieve cold fusion and world peace. I know what you mean – some people can throw wild outfits together and make it work, and it just seems to fit their personality. Those people are strange and beautiful aliens. At work, I’m the fat, badly-dressed girl with the really weird sense of humor. I’m losing weight right now and making a number of lifestyle changes, so maybe I can become the curvy, normally-if-blandly dressed girl with the weird sense of humor. Fortunately I’m very good at my job, so they’re likely to keep me around either way!

Honestly, I wish I could go with the Hawaiian shirts. I love a man in one of those! My husband owns several because I told him he needed to. :slight_smile:

White socks go with athletic shoes. They may go with brown shoes if you’re wearing blue (no other color!) jeans. White socks never, ever, ever go with sandals. Ever. In the outfit you’ve described, you should wear black socks, black trouser socks, or no socks, depending on what kind of shoes you’re wearing. Pumps? No socks. Loafers? No socks or trouser socks. Boots? Socks. Unless they’re actually booties, which can be treated like loafers.

Socks, like hose, should be lighter than your shoes, but generally in the same color family as your shoes, gray with black, tan with brown, etc. Black is OK with black, but shouldn’t be any darker than the shoe. Hose should generally match your skin tone, so they can be worn with any closed toe shoe. Tights can be any color and you can mix and match more, although it sounds like you don’t wear skirts or dresses very often.

The outfit you described is a classic look. You could keep the shirt and the shoes, and wear any color pants you like with them. As long as you don’t wear white socks. Or white pants. Never wear all white, unless it’s your professional uniform. You could also wear different colored shoes with that outfit, but I think that works better with skirts.

ETA: Since you’re losing weight, have your clothes tailored down to your new size at least once. That’s cheaper than buying new ones. Wearing clothes that are two sizes too big is a classic fashion don’t, just like wearing them two sizes too small.

People mock it but I am fashion impaired and I get a lot of help from “Lucky.” Its just clothes, no attempt at articles or any type of journalism unrelated to clothes shopping. I don’t take it as a a bible but it gives me an idea of what is coming around in fashion, as well as outfit combinations. Unlike most other fashion magazines, they include clothes from inexpensive places like Target.

Edited to add: it is no coincidence to my fashion impairment that I was raised by both wolves AND hippies; my mom’s maiden name is Wolf. :slight_smile:

My mom wears hawaiian shirts every day to work, and she’s taken fairly seriously.

But, if perchance you don’t want to wear hawaiian shirts every day (like me :slight_smile: ) a few simple don’ts:

  1. Don’t mix navy blue and black. It’s just not a good idea.
  2. Don’t wear pleated pants. It took me forever to convince Sr. O of this fact, but trust me - they don’t look good on anyone.
  3. Make sure your pants are long enough, if in doubt, wear them too long - it’s better than too short.

Essentially, there are two sets of colors:

Gold, silver, etc. (as jewelry)

Everything else, essentially

Never wear a Colored top and bottom. One of those should be a drab.

Never have more than two Colors on yourself (including jewelry.) So you could do, for instance, black pants with a green top and then purple earings and a purple handbag. If you had a green top, red earings, and a purple handbag, that would be bad.

“Near” colors should generally not be put with each other. So blue and green, purple and red, orange and yellow, etc. aren’t generally going to be good combos. Brownish clothes should, for our purposes, also be considered as being in the reddish area. So don’t wear red, orange, or yellow with brown.

Any drab can go with any drab. But, they should either be almost exactly the same darkness or at least a good 40% darker/lighter from one another. Even wearing drabs with colors, you pretty much want to follow this rule.

Now there’s also shape. In general, either the top should be loose and the bottom well-fit, the top well-fit and the bottom loose, or both well-fit. You never want loose with loose.

Beware of pockets in wierd places, stripes and seams that seem unnecessary. In general, any single item of clothing which seems impressive on its own is a “bad thing” unless you know what to do with it and are sure that it won’t be going out of fashion in two weeks. Aim for solid colors for everything except purses.

If you buy anything which has a few colors that are mixed into it (like a sweater or purse), then the two colors that you get to use in the rest of your outfit are the dominant and second strongest colors in that item. If you want to emphasize that item then you should use its secondary color with the rest of your clothing except small things like earings and necklaces which can use the primary color.

Note that all of these rules can be broken if you know what you’re doing, but this is the safest course.