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No Longer Dressing By the Rules

If you’ve seen my styling videos on Instagram, you may have noticed that I get dressed with creative abandon.  It wasn’t always that way.  I used to follow some very specific rules for dressing that had me well-dressed and looking nice, but not necessarily sartorially interesting.

I began to notice folks, whom I consider to be uber-stylish, wearing things that my mind told me shouldn’t be put together, but my eyes told me something completely different.  Think about the folks that are featured in photographs during fashion week or on style blogs. They look amazing and obviously follow no style rules.

I realize many folks are dressing based on a set of societally- or self-imposed rules.  People dress based on what other people will say or think.  I’ve had people attempt to impose their style rules on me, and I’m not having it!  Some of the more interesting rules I’ve been advised that I’m breaking are:

  • Putting my socks on after I put my pants on. (Who knew there was a required order for these things?)
  • Wearing large-scale watches. (Apparently, these are only for men.)
  • Carrying a handbag that does not “match” my outfit.

The list goes on, but none of these matter to me because what I know for sure is my style improved by leaps and bounds after I abandoned my own set of rules.  Here are a few of the rules I used to follow that will never again abide by:

Abandoned Rule #1: Belt, shoes, and handbag must match.

I now know that this is not only not a requirement, it can be better when they don’t match. When I say “match”, I mean they had to be the same exact color and tone.  I looked like an ad for Sears Garanimals.  Now, I pull colors from various elements of my outfits, and choose these accessories to coordinate accordingly, or other times, I go for a complete contrast in color and tone. As a result, there are days when none of these items actually “match”, and the resulting outfit is incredible.

The belt, shoes, and purse don’t match, and I’m okay with that.

Abandoned Rule #2: There is a “proper” way to wear clothes.

What I know now is clothes are garments to be worn, and can be worn however you put them on.  There is no one “right” way for a garment to look amazing.  A shirt or dress can be worn backwards or upside down. I have a shirt dress that I prefer wearing “back” to “front”.

A belt can be worn with the buckle in any position, to the front, the side, the rear, and any position in-between.  Skirts become tops when they are pulled up around the chest, and all clothes are layering pieces if you style them that way.

The same dress work “the right way” and worn backward layered over pants.

Abandoned Rule #3: Gold- and silver-tone jewelry and hardware should not be mixed.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous rules I followed as a young woman.  I never mixed the jewelry, and extended the rule to my other accessories as well.  I followed it to the extent that I had to have a black belt with gold hardware, a black belt with silver hardware and a purse to coordinate with each.

I now see this as an opportunity to elevate a look.  If my belt has a silver-tone buckle and my bag has gold-tone hardware, I extend the mixed metals to my jewelry.  I’ll wear yellow gold earrings with a silver necklace, extending the theme throughout the outfit for an intentional and cohesive look.

The large silver tiger pendant is styled with gold accessories.

These rules limited me and kept me from connecting with my true style.  Once I shed the rules and opened my mind to the possibilities, I got more use out of my clothes and getting dressed became extremely fun.  I also gained clarity on how I really want to dress every day and show up in the world.

I understand getting dressed without rules can be confusing or scary for folks that need to color within the lines.  If rules serve you best, follow them.  Just remember those rules are yours and do not apply to others. The only real style rule is, there are no rules.  Wear whatever you want, however you want.

When I tried a new way of wearing a tie, I received comments on how to properly tie it (as if I didn’t know).  Notice the shoes don’t match the bag.

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso

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10 thoughts on “No Longer Dressing By the Rules

    1. Hi Nancy,

      Thank you. I like trying new things with my style to keep things interesting. I appreciate your encouragement.

      Sabra

  1. I applaud you! You are beautiful and style yourself with purpose, intentionality, color, and class. I love how you shared what you use to do, what you do now, and how it works wonderfully. The visuals are perfect. Most of all, I appreciate how you rework/restyle clothing, not limiting yourself to the intended use for the item, and create ingenious ways of extending your wardrobe and self expression.

    1. Hi Amanda!

      Thank you. There was a lot of unlearning involved, but I’m so happy I went through it. I have never been happier with my style.

      -Sabra

  2. Loved reading this. My sister is matchy, matchy and likes to tell me that doesn’t match. My biggest take away from this is I don’t have to worry about my silver and gold jewelry matching.

    1. Hi Nanette, thank you for taking the time to read the article. I actually cringe now when I think about my matchy-matchy days. LOL! Indeed, go ahead and mix those metals.

      -Sabra

  3. I just found your site and am loving your style. I can’t wait to try some of these things that you do. Where do you get your jewelry?

    1. Hi! Thank you. My jewelry comes from various sources, including thrift stores, small businesses, and independent jewelry-making artists. A couple of my favorites are linked in the “my favorites” section of the website (Ermine NY and Rissa’s Artistic Design). I’ll soon be adding a page that includes links to where I shop for various categories.