Outdated fashion rules you no longer have to follow

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Beginning at an early age, we're told what to - and what not to wear. Eventually, those rules start to pin us down; our light-up shoes are exchanged for practical kicks, and our mismatched shirt and pants look is given the boot. We're taught the old-school laws of fashion before we even know what they mean.

The rules of fashion, however, are made to be broken. Without a few outlaws willing to defy what our mothers and fathers told us to wear, we wouldn't have new, creative looks that define a generation. Forget the following outdated fashion rules, and free your inner fashion maven with style choices that make you feel bold, confident and ready to take on the world any and every day.

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No white after Labor Day

Packing away every article of white clothing after Labor Day is a fashion rule that is often touted, but hardly ever explained. The taboo may have a practical origin (white clothes helped fight the summer heat in the days before air conditioning), or it may have arisen to differentiate between the working class and those wealthy enough to escape steamy cities for the countryside during summer, according to Time. Regardless, it's safe to say this 20th-century stricture is now irrelevant. Don those white pants in the fall and live freely.

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Don't wear sleeveless dresses to work

When the temperature finally begins to skyrocket in the summer months, the last thing one wants to have to worry about is underarm sweat stains. There are plenty of antiperspirant products that work to beat the heat, but sleeveless dresses and tops are the easiest way to keep cool. These options were once deemed inappropriate for the workplace, but the tides have turned, even in the most formal organizations. In 2017, congresswomen protested for the "right to bare arms" and an end to an archaic rule that prevented them from wearing sleeveless dresses. It's safe to say, if it's good enough for Congress to show a little shoulder, you can do the same in your workplace.

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Wear pantyhose or stockings with dresses and skirts

Our mothers and the women before them considered pantyhose to be a staple for most outfits, but just as the times change, so do the laws of fashion. Women wore pantyhose as a sign of class. They were "respectable" and "proper" if they covered their bare legs with the thick material, and any woman who didn't wear it was judged. This look has completely gone out of style. Not only are pantyhose and stockings unfashionable, but they're also a pain to deal with if you happen to get a run in a pair.

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Match your belt with your shoe

Men have always been told to match their shoes with their belts if they want to look professional and classy. Brown leather was meant to go with brown leather, and so on. The great thing about fashion is that it's forever changing. Even though matching the pair is a classic look, there's no longer a rule stating this is the only way to look good. Playing with colors and patterns is the only way to discover which style speaks to you.

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Only wear black socks at work

If you work in an office where you're expected to wear business attire at all times, colorful or creative socks are the perfect way to express yourself without breaking the rules. Black socks are great to have in your overall wardrobe, but colorful socks add a nice pop to an outfit and can stir up a great conversation with a coworker. A pop of color in your wardrobe is a great way to start your morning.

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Don't pair brown with black

"Don't pair brown with black" is one of the oldest rules in the book. Your parents probably drilled this notion into your head before you could even purchase your first outfit. But this rule can stylishly be broken. There are so many shades of brown to be paired with black that this constraint no longer applies. Plus, leopards have donned this color scheme for eons, and they look great doing it, too.

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Don't pair blue with black

Like with brown and black, it was once an etiquette mistake you didn't know you were making to wear navy and black together. The colors, to some, would clash and create an unstylish look that would leave people wondering which was navy and which was black. This rule, like many others, is now obsolete. There are so many fun ways to pair navy with black. Add a pop of color to your navy-and-black look to give it even more life.

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Stay away from mixed prints

Mixing prints, such as polka dots with stripes, was once considered to be a major fashion mistake. A pair of patterns was sure to confuse an onlooker and look like a mismatched mistake. In recent years, however, this rule has been thrown out the window. Fashion designers are known to play with prints and mix as deemed fit, so why shouldn't you? Playing with prints and colors is a surefire way to make a splash.

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Avoid horizontal stripes

At the risk of looking like Waldo or a zebra in the wild, it was once a rule to avoid horizontal stripes. Some even said the look could make one appear larger. Thankfully, this insensitive rule is out the door. Wear all the stripes.

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Don't match denim with denim

The double-denim look - or "Canadian tuxedo," as some call it - was once a rule never meant to be broken unless you were a cowboy. Nowadays, celebrities are wearing the look as if it was their birthright. A light denim jacket paired with a darker pair of jeans is a fashionable look perfect for a night out or dinner at one of the country's best casual restaurants.

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Only wear one type of jewelry

We were once told to find one jewelry finish that works for us  and stick with it for life. Is your wedding set 14-karat yellow gold? Better make sure your earrings, necklaces and bracelets are made from the same raw material. But now that limitation feels outdated and tired, and everyone knows that the best way to shake up any outfit is to accessorize. Today, you can mix white gold, yellow gold, copper or even beads in whatever manner you see fit.

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Don't wear hats indoors

As far as outdated fashion rules go, this tops the list. On a bad hair day, a hat is a perfect escape. A boring outfit can be made lively with a fedora or rimmed hat. Unless you're in a place of worship or a particularly expensive restaurant, no one will expect you to remove your cap. Keep the look going strong.

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Plus-size clothes shouldn't be form-fitting

The key to looking good is to wear what makes you feel good. No one can tell you what outfit choices should give you confidence or make you feel like a star. Here's the bottom line: Anyone can wear what they want to wear regardless of their height, weight or any other factor.

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Women can't wear men's clothing and vice versa

In the past women wore dresses and men wore suits. That's just how it went. Nowadays, it's less about what is "right" or "wrong," it's about wearing outfits that slay all while making you feel like the king or queen that you are. Celebrities continue to defy gender-conforming fashion rules by wearing elaborately designed outfits to award shows. Suits and skirts are meant to be worn by anyone who wants to put them on, and that's that.

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Dress your age

OK, maybe wearing a Barney T-shirt from your toddler's closet to work isn't such a great idea, but there isn't a law enforcing how old you have to be to shop in certain clothing sections for a reason. Based on your age, people might expect you to not wear items expected to be worn by young individuals, like skinny jeans or Converse sneakers - but there's no reason you have to throw away your favorite comfortable clothes just because you've hit a certain calendar year.

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Don't wear the same dress twice

Tossing outfits after each wear is out of the question for those on a budget. Plus, who wants to throw away a cute dress just because someone may have seen you in it? Not only is this rule pricey, but it's unnecessary. If you're truly worried about committing a fashion faux pas by daring to wear the same garment to two different weddings, switch up your accessories instead to make an old dress feel brand new.

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Tattoos and piercings have to be hidden

Intricately designed tattoos and piercings have long been part of human history. Individuals have been using inked skin to tell the story of their lives for more than 5,000 years. Now,  roughly one-quarter of Americans have tattoos, and ink is becoming more and more mainstream. While some professions (such as elementary school teachers) are still required to cover up any tats, many respected professionals proudly show off their ink and nose piercings every day.

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Dresses and skirts must fall below the knee

Maxi dresses and billowing skirts are great staples to have in your closet, but gone are the days when women were expected to wear bottoms that draped to their ankles. Even though you probably shouldn't wear a miniskirt to a job interview, you also shouldn't be self-conscious about wearing a skirt that just reaches the knee in this day and age.

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Gray hair is unsightly

Men and women have been known to dye their hair blonde or to their natural hair color at the first sign of a gray strand. The much-dreaded grays were a sign of aging, and most individuals wanted to distance themselves from the idea of getting older. These days, gray hair is so trendy that younger people are willing to dye their hair to attain the sleek look the color provides. Embracing those grays is going to give you a better outlook on your senior years and is one of the many tips for healthy aging.

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