Ironclad Style Rules (That Are Actually OK to Break)

Rules are meant to be broken, after all. Here's how to look good doing it.

You've probably heard these style rules before, handed down as iron-clad commandments that should dictate the way you dress. But here's the thing: you can toss the rules aside and still look damn good. They're helpful if you're just getting the hang of dressing with style, but once you know what you're doing, breaking the rules can make for some very cool sprezzatura statements.

Don't wear white after labor day

Of course, a crisp white shirt will look good all year round, but bolder pieces like white denim can still work long past the summer season. It's a good way to brighten an outfit in the dreary dead of winter, and takes surprisingly well to some tough boots and a wool overcoat.

Always match your shoes to your belt

This one has some validity, we'll admit: an inky black leather belt with a light brown leather pair of shoes definitely looks a bit off. But there's no need to get obsessive about it. Pair a light brown belt with darker shoes, or vice versa, and it'll give your outfit some visual contrast without seeming out of place.

The New Rules of Matching Your Belt to Your Shoes

Buck the sartorial tradition by following a new, looser set of rules when it comes to your leather goods.

Or you can ditch the leather altogether and slide on a bolder woven belt, and not worry that it doesn't match your leather shoes. It's a more unique look that adds personality the same way that a cool pocket square does.

Avoid denim-on-denim outfits

Unless you're going full-blown Justin Timberlake circa 2001 (and you really should not be), you don't have to fear the denim-on-denim look. In fact, it can look incredibly cool when done right.

Try pairing some clean, dark jeans with a faded denim jacket, or black jeans with a beat-up indigo denim shirt. Or, like in the photo above, you can try wearing your favorite jeans with a button down made from chambray, a denim-like fabric that's especially effective as a warm-weather option thanks to its lighter weight. So long as you keep the colors and washes different, it'll create a killer outfit that looks tough and rugged.

Don't mix patterns

If you're wearing a striped shirt, you've got to anchor it with a solid tie. Right?

Everything You Need to Know About Rocking a Tie

Every guy knows how to wear a tie. But to set yourself apart, take care to nail the details.

Nope. Reach for pin dots, a small print, or or even stripes in a different width and color from your shirt to pattern-clash with style. So long as your tie doesn't look like it's disappearing into your shirt, and the combo isn't giving you a headache when you look in the mirror, you're good to go.

The color of your socks should match your pants

We've been pretty vocal in our support of bold, eye-catching socks paired with anything from your casual weekend getup to a full-on suit and tie. Wearing neutral socks that match your pants is still fine, of course, but breaking the mold will give you much better outfit results, since it imbues your ankles with more personality.

A shirt and tie should always be worn with a jacket

The conventional wisdom is that when you put on a tie but leave your blazer at home, you run the risk of looking like a used car salesman — awkwardly straddling the line between casual and dressed-up for a result that's kind of schlubby. Or if the rest of your outfit is razor-sharp and dressy, it'll just seem like you accidentally forgot your suit jacket when you went out to lunch.

If you take care to ensure everything fits well and hit the right formality level, though, the look can work. Make sure that your shirt is slim, your pants are closely-cropped, your tie is narrow, and you look more "coffee date" than "meeting with clients" by swapping out dress pants for chinos or jeans and reaching for a more casual button-down.

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