Style “rules” exist for a reason. They inform and guide the current generation using techniques and styles that have worked well in the past. Much of the time, they ensure that younger folks at least try to look their best.
Many rules are rooted in business wear and can be traced back to pamphlets and guides from the early- to mid-20th century. They attempted to guide young businessmen in the right manner of dress so that they wouldn’t embarrass themselves at work.
This is all well and good, but styles and societal priorities change. Things that worked in the past might not always work today, as business dress was a lot more conservative back then.
Here are seven style rules that have generally been accepted over time, but that no longer make all that much sense.
RULE #1: Don’t wear white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day.
The “don’t wear white after Labor Day” ruleis rooted in classism. In the 19th century, it was a way for old money to separate itself from the nouveau riche.
Unfortunately, this idea has stubbornly survived through the current day. It’s time to forget about it — white can look great whenever.
RULE #2: Always match your belt with your shoes.
In more formal settings, it’s a good idea to get as close as you can to matching the leathers of your belt and shoes. But in any other context, it’s simply unnecessary.
It suggests a level of exactness that’s too particular — fussy, even. And besides, no one is paying such close attention to the color of your leathers, anyway.
RULE #3: Always wear socks with pants.
The necessity of socks is greatly exaggerated. The sockless summer look has been around so long now, it’s a staple in the spring issues of men’s fashion magazines.
Socks are no longer required unless you’re actually dressing up. Just make sure you have something on your feet.
RULE #4: Always wear a belt if your pants have belt loops.
Men’s clothing is, above all, rooted in purpose and utility. The pockets and adornments on clothing are either useful or vestigial, but they always derive from some sort of work or military purpose. Examples of that include shoulder epaulets and ticket pockets. We can now add belt loops to that list.
It’s 2016 — belts are now a choice. If your pants fit properly, they aren’t going to fall down without a belt.
RULE #5: Match your pants to your socks.
Many are unaware of this hyper-conservative style rule. Decades ago, the rules used to call for black socks with black pants, navy socks with navy pants, and gray socks with gray pants. The idea behind it was this: If the sock and pant blended together into the same color, it would make the man appear taller.
This didn’t always work, and men grew tired of this matching rule in our more sartorially adventurous times. The rule has mostly been forgotten. Good riddance.
RULE #6: Never wear pleated pants.
Don’t let this one throw you for a loop. While it has been menswear gospel for the past decade that pleats are generally unflattering, they are starting to make a comeback. But as with most retro trends now on the upswing, it’s very easy to do pleats wrong.
Choosing single pleats and making sure the fit is perfect will go a long way in making sure these aren’t confused with your dad’s favorite old pants.
RULE #7: Never wear black with blue or brown.
Men were told not to wear black with brown or navy because of old-fashioned suiting rules — rules that date back many, many decades.
No one pays any attention to these rules anymore, so you shouldn’t pay attention to this byproduct of them, either.