I Just Wanna Break The Rules: 3 Ways to be a Fashion Rebel

As fun as fashion can be, there are many supposed “rules” to dressing your fine self. It’s something that makes getting outfitted a very overwhelming process; which of these laws should be followed? I’m going to let you in on a secret… You don’t need to listen to a single one.

Thus far, I’ve seen almost every single “rule” that I’d been taught go in and out of favour (socks with Birkenstocks, I’m looking at you!). I’ve also been blessed to know people who make the most “outlandish” sartorial choices seem almost ordinary, since it’s their everyday look. The rules exist as a weird guideline which you can adhere to if you so choose. But in my experience it’s been so much more fun to flip them the bird and do me. There’s nothing the fashion world loves quite as much as a fashionable rebel!

So how does one go about breaking these rules? I thought you’d never ask! I played around with a few of my favourite ways to rebel against the Voguettes.

All White

I’m wearing a Topshop top, thrifted skirt and Adidas Superstar II.

I’m wearing a Topshop top, thrifted skirt and Adidas Superstar II.

No white after Labour Day: the origins of this “rule” are murky at best. Some say it was a practical rule as clothes get dirty, others suspect that it was more of a class-based/socioeconomic rule. Despite being of indecipherable origin, it’s a rule that seems to be widely known. I’ve been apprehensive of this rule solely based on the fact white looks phenomenal all year round. All white everything. But for my summer version I’ve got athletic shoes outside of the gym, a rule that clearly has little sway for most of us.

Sidenote: crop tops are not only for washboard abs. See exhibit A for proof.

Power Clashing

I’m wearing a Wildfox sweater, thrifted dress, Monki socks and Loly in the Sky shoes.

I’m wearing a Wildfox sweater, thrifted dress, Monki socks and Loly in the Sky shoes.

My personal form of fashion anarchy is pattern mixing/clashing. It’s pretty satisfying to find the magical combination of scale/color/proportion and blend unexpected pieces. I’ve been at weird combinations (with many failures) since high school, so often it feels a little bit easy for me. But it’ doesn’t always have to be a large scale, bold mix. Try putting two different kinds of stripes together, or a little dot with a slightly bigger one. Baby steps, everyone. Baby steps.

“Flattering” Clothing

I’m wearing a thrifted top, thrifted duster, Old Navy jeans and Steve Madden sandals.

I’m wearing a thrifted top, thrifted duster, Old Navy jeans and Steve Madden sandals.

The area in which there are the most commandments in fashion is body shape/size. Stripes are for the tall and lean, dress for your height, wear “flattering” clothing if you aren’t thin, also known as “bland and/or black articles of clothing.” I don’t really care about any of those rules. The most flattering style for you is the one you feel the best in. I’m a short and chubby person, and my closet is chock full of patterns (horizontal stripes too). This has caused little to no detriment to my life. In fact, my sartorial leanings have helped me connect with like minded folks and sweet peeps. Sometimes the guidelines are for suckers.

This is the just the beginning; there are so many ways to break the “rules.” What are your tips/tricks/tireless standbys when it comes to challenging fashion norms?

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Lydia O

Lydia Okello is a feminist, body positive, queer personal style blogger. On her website Style is Style, she showcases her panache for bright colors and power clashing. When she isn't pawing over Samantha Pleet collections on Tumblr, she's dreaming about havin' a kitten of her own one day. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr and on her personal blog.

Lydia has written 64 articles for us.


  1. YES to unflattering clothing. My favourite: A pair of knackered old ballooning corduroy trousers that I got for 10p that do, yes, make me look like the back end of a bus but also make me feel like an 80s separatist lesbian crossed with a rap star. Which resultingly makes me look amazing.

  2. I’m really into mixing plaids, which I feel is pretty clever, like an argyle cardigan over a plaid shirt, or even better over an argyle jumper. Also stripes over stripes. But I gather this sort of thing is rather frowned upon.

  3. Yes yes to this all! As a pear-shaped gal, I was raised on the notion that boot cut pants/jeans are the only bottoms I can wear, because they apparently balance out the size of my thighs in relation to the rest of my legs. The thing is, and I’ve noticed that fellow peary ladies have the same complaint, is that boot cut jeans just make the ENTIRE leg look like a damn column!

    Skinny jeans come in bigger sizes for a reason! Rather than trying to find ways to hide my more generous hips, I’m embracing showing them, as well as the defined contours of the rest of my legs, off in body-hugging bottoms, provided they’re comfy.

  4. My fashion rules are simple: get dressed in the dark, don’t look in the mirrors at work (goes without saying you wouldn’t check in the one at home either), and assume that people are lost for words around you because of your inherent awesomeness.

  5. The instant I saw your power clashing outfit I whooped “That’s sooo cute!” I am totally stealing that look.

  6. thanks for writing this awesome article :} a rule i love to personally break is continuity in how worn clothes are…i’ll often pair my torn up, faded vans with a going-out dress.

    • I am trying to up my overall arsenal to more than one pair… Gotta get on ASOS for more :)

  7. Meh, I see my body as any other structure and I cloth it like I would decorate my home, with proportion, lines, and color in mind. I dress to flatter my body and highlight my skin tone. It’s what I prefer.

    • What I am saying is it’s not about the rules, it’s about my eye. My boss says I’m the youngest person she knows who goes to a tailor.

  8. I spent most of my life thinking that because I’m fat, I HAVE to dress femme, because only feminine clothing is considered “flattering” for curvy girls, and literally all plus-size women’s clothing is HYPER FEMME. It is a common assumption that if you are fat, any attempt to dress more masculine-of-center, will inevitably make you look like a big ol’ sack of butch potatoes. But thanks to tumblr and Autostraddle, plus other areas of the interwebs, I’ve FINALLY seen women who look like me dressing the way I want to dress. So yes, fellow fatties, you can gender-bend just as well, if not better, than those born with a more “androgynous” physique. Curves do not preclude rocking a great suit.

    • “like a big ol’ sack of butch potatoes” LMAO!! I know that feel so well. My closet is way too full of clothes I don’t actually like anymore and want to replace, but every time I go looking for new plus-size clothes, I hit that hyper-femme wall. And bigger men’s clothing tends to be waaay too long all over if it’s big enough to fit my belly and hips (because I am also short). Would you mind telling me some of the Tumblrs you follow? I follow a few for tomboy-femme/androgynous fashion, but most of the photos are of people much slimmer than me.

      • I am also a short person. I am not particularly plus size, but that does not stop things from being too long. It will shock you how cheap it is to things hemmed at your local dry cleaner, especially if they do it in-house. Check around. Honestly it’s worth having a few pieces you love than a ton of pieces you hate.

      • queerplusfashion.tumblr.com
        qwear.tumblr.com (not exclusively plus-sized, but lots of variety and inspiration)
        styleisstyle.tumblr.com (Lydia O’s style blog)

        I know there are a ton more out there, but I’m still relatively new to Tumblr, and I follow a lot of very different blogs, so I’m kind of all over the place.

  9. Lydia, you look amazing in every outfit you put together. It’s kind of intimidating.

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