Friday, 24 September 2010

Friend Friday: Fashion Do's and Don'ts

Friend Friday is a weekly survey for fashion bloggers run by ModlyChic. This week is about Fashion Do's and Don'ts. To participate email

1. What do you think are some of the top fashion don’ts? (Things you would never be caught dead in and cringe when other people wear them.)

For me personally it is Ugg Boots. As a young girl in Australia I owned a pair of Ugg boots. They were what I wore around the house as bedroom slippers to keep warm in winter. I never wore them out in public.

In fact we were conditioned to run away from people who habitually wore them out of the house as real footwear for fear of being thumped. They were the sort who also wore skinny black jeans, checked shirts, had lots of ear piercings and shaved their hair into mullets (that was both the men and women and even their young kids).

Now in the suburban wastelands of Australia during the eighties they were just a scary social tribe. Ironically in modern day London they are actually fashion icons. In our day they were called bogans and they were never very nice to people who were not bogans.  Given their vocabulary didn’t stretch far beyond “ugg!” before they threw an empty beer can at you it's no wonder they so proudly embraced the hideous Ugg Boot as part of their winter uniform.

If you lack the cultural context of what a bogan was I understand that they seem like comfy winter boots and what is good enough for Kate Moss to wear in public is going to be adopted lemming-like by the fashionable.

However for me the Ugg Boot is forever tarnished with the bogan brush. I'm not going to sully my blog with a photo to illustrate but if you google bogan you can appreciate the sartorial horror yourselves.

2. What previous fashion don’t do you now wear with pride?

Double denim. I don’t wear with pride per se, I just end up wearing it because sometimes I'm wearing jeans to run around in and will wear my favourite denim jacket as well because it’s a practical cover-up.

I guess I had never considered it off limits prior to it becoming a trend. It is actually easy to avoid looking like a builder in double denim if you put some thought into it. But then the fashionable got all excited about it this Spring and suddenly my double denim outfits were le dernier cri.

I also decided some time ago that I was going to ignore all those ageist fashion don’ts. You know the ones: anyone over the age of twenty-five shouldn’t wear shorts, mini-skirts, feathers, body-con, strapless, spaghetti straps, backless, sheer, biker chic, the latest trends, blah blah blah....

You name it, it has been declared off limits for us by snooty style guides, nosy relatives, even girlfriends who think they're doing you a favour. (Boy what a dull decade I would've had if I'd taken heed!)

Why don’t you just ask women to bury themselves when they hit twenty six? Or take up wearing the burkha? And you know who the worst perpetrators of this kind of advice are? Other women. Don’t see the men complaining. Nobody tells men to put their crepey arms and legs away at any age.

I’m not advising anyone to dress like a stripper or in anything they aren't comfortable with. Everyone has to know themselves and what their best features are, but that applies at any age. I do think the whole mutton dressed as lamb thing gets taken to a demeaning, intimidating and catty extreme. It pits women against each other and doesn’t contribute to a healthy body image for women as they get older.

How many women do you know who could otherwise rock something they feel they're too old for but resort to looking dowdy because of these fashion don’ts or because, to quote one distressingly young blogger I came across, they fear being given looks of pity? Think about who is giving out those looks of pity. I bet they’re mostly female. Let’s stop being our own worst enemies shall we?

My favourite stylist is the UK based reality TV fashion stylist Gok Wan. Gok always styles up women of all ages in less fabric, not more, and in fashion forward, figure hugging, downright sexy designs. They always come off looking fabulous, they make their husbands cry with joy and even my boyfriend always comments they look about ten years younger.

3. Do you think there is a universal fashion do?

From a philosophical point of view: be yourself and wear your choices with confidence! Nothing looks worse than someone feeling uncomfortable in and with what they are wearing.

From a wardrobe point of view: the little black dress, beautiful shoes and choice accessories never fail, either altogether or as starting pieces for an outfit.

4. What items lately, either recently in style or coming in now, do you think should never make it off the retail shelves?

Crocs. So. Phenomenally. Ugly. Who invented these monstrosities? Why do so many people insist buying these?? I read recently that the company share price is going up and that they’ve extended their range of designs and colours!! Just say no people!

I also take issue with cheap, super thin, clinging leggings that manage to show what colour underwear you’ve got on. Unfortunately I often see leggings that border on transparent combined with a short top that doesn’t cover the wearer’s behind and yes, I can see their knickers and not in an intended Dolce and Gabbana way. Never mind VPL, sporting camel toe is never a good look. This is a major fashion crime I see being committed far too often and more often by younger girls.

I love leggings but ones as thin as I've seen being sported in London need much more coverage than crop tops. If your leggings do not come in at least a good, thick, single ply jersey, then girls, they are technically hosiery. Sheer needs to be sophisticated if it is not to look trashy. If you must indulge wear with a dress or long tunic. Please.

5. In your opinion, is there any blogger, fashion icon, celebrity who somehow manages to pull off some fashion don’ts and still look good?

Carrie Bradshaw. Patricia Field exploited just about every Fashion don’t in the book and made the Sex in The City character a style icon. Take the first photo's fashion don'ts: crop tops and long hair on the over thirties, combining dark on top and light on the bottom, horizontal large stripes on the hips, wearing a bum bag years before they came back into fashion, and yet we probably all swooned.

And I think Anna Della Russo is awesome.  Always fearless in her fashion choices she looks amazing, confident and happy in her own skin.  Don’t wear designer head to toe, don’t wear short, sheer or feathers if you aren’t young, the list of don’ts tossed by the wayside is endless.  She ignores it all.

Images of Anna Della Russo from The Sartorialist


  1. ahh crocs, they never even crossed my mind! but now you've reminded me of my hatred for them! Leggings seem to feature on many lists, I wish people took note! Some great answers! :)

  2. A few of us seem to be in agreement on the leggings front. I forgot to mention Crocs and Uggs though. And yes, agreed - Anna Della Russo is one of those 'fabulous' people who is always daring but always looks so 'right'. As for Carrie - it's subtler, but I always loved how she wore distinctive bras with low or backless dresses, bra straps be damned.

  3. What superb answers, my dear, not that I'd expect anything less.
    Uggs? Ugly! Crocs? Vile! My town centre is full of women in cheap leggings, so thin you can see their flesh inderneath. Legging to me are exercise wear, not an alternative to trousers.
    Gok Wan? I love him, too. He never fails to make women (and that lovely man who was on his show recently) much, much better without compromising their individuality. xxx

  4. I adore rule breakers like Carrie Bradsaw. Especially the first 3 seasons of Sex and the City, until she went from patricia Field to Oscar de la renta and Dior. And of course Ana dello Russo. Wow, she is something else...
    There is a Spanish proverb that says:

    "El pudor de una mujer empieza donde termina su belleza"
    Te abrazo.

  5. Crocs are hideous!!! LOL And I definitely agree about the leggings. I don't see how people can wear them with a short top? I know I would feel comfortable having my butt all out there like that!

    Carrie Bradshaw was a good pick! She did wear a lot of outrageous stuff but taking the outfit to pair with her personality some of the fashion don'ts were oh so right!

    Great answers!

  6. Great Post! I love your comment that we should stop being our own worst enemies. I love clothes and view them as a creative outlet, but not everyone feels that way. I have some friends who are absolutely frightened of getting dressed in the morning because someone at some time made them feel like they were doing it "wrong". Fashion should be fun and make us feel better about ourselves not worse.

  7. I never knew that about UGGs. I understand your aversion. I will probably keep wearing my knock-offs though :)

    Totally agree re Crocs - they are my absolute worst nightmare (had to add them to my post but credited you!!).


  8. I 100% agree with your commentary on Sex and the City

    "Crop tops and long hair on the over thirties, combining dark on top and light on the bottom, horizontal large stripes on the hips, wearing a bum bag years before they came back into fashion, and yet we probably all swooned."


  9. Thanks for the background on Uggs. The sad thing is I've looked at some uggs longingly and actually wished I could buy them. I agree with the crocs though

    My life, style and pregnancy Blog




  11. Such great answers. I love your writing style. I think I'm going to stick around.

  12. Would love to see how you pull of the double denim thing. I always reach for my jean jacket to try it and then think 'what the hell am I thinking. I can't do that. no way.' But some people manage to pull it off in exceptional style. - Katy

  13. Confidence, for sure! Doesn't matter what you're wearing, if you feel uncomfortable in it, it shows!

  14. This is a great post - thanks for sharing your pet hates and craves:). 1. Uggs - definitely tarred with the bogan brush;). How 'bout trackie dacks?!! 2. I have often shared the following sentiment with anyone who's listening "Why not wear what you really, really love at any age? We could all drop dead tomorrow!" at which point I'm usually met with the sound of crickets chirpping;). 3. Agree!!!!! Might I add "try growing old disgracefully, it's way more fun". 4. Oh Christ there are some horrible, see-through, wrinkly leggings out there. 5. I can't decide on any one person. In this crazy, fickle world, I just want to be me. xo

  15. Great answers! You summed all my hates in one post :) Leggings top my list at the moment - the most hideous thing out there!

  16. Thanks for the interesting background on Uggs in Australia. I never took to them myself because they were so everywhere, and in general they just weren't me. Now I'm even more glad I never felt the urge to have a pair!

    Oh, I hope Gok Wan's show makes it to the USA someday. Sounds like great fun. Trinny and Susannah's makeover show has been shown here and there, but never for long. I've enjoyed their books, and they seem to laugh in the face at the idea of mutton dressing as lamb, if their own outfits are any indication. However, I've never forgiven them for saying that pairing red with black is tarty and one must look at other partners for red. Red and black is classic and easy -- if it's tarty, you've just done it wrong.

  17. Bravo! I love your writing style, too.

    Was going thru my really long blog roll: even with categories, it has still grown from link swap requests and I was amazed at how many people who asked to swap links, gave up blogging long ago. But when I clicked on yours.. you're staying. You might just become a Daily REads!

    thanks for a great post.

  18. Great post. I am probably the only person on here who is not a Sex in the City movie watcher. I know that no matter how much I would like to go against the grain and be out going there is no way horizontal stripes are going around my hips and show my stomach (nope not me). I give Ms. Bradshaw props for being daring.
    I really like that the jeggings and leggings can actually make your legs look longer if you pair them with the right top and shoe or boot.

  19. @everybody!
    Hi guys, thanks for all your comments - glad to see so many in agreement about crocs! And some of you also won't touch Uggs purely on aesthetic grounds either. Interesting to read through everyones answers - turns out there were even greater horrors highlighted by other people (winking trousers - have to be seen to be believed).

    Then one person's don't turns out to be another person's do. Although they are some peoples pet hate I actually like leggings when they are done well. I agree with @TJWisdom that they can be leg lengthening.

    And I think I am the only one that is going to be sticking up for harem trousers - maybe its a London thing!

    @Cloud of Secrets - yeah that dissing red and black as tarty seems a bit silly to me. Surely it depends what items in red and black you are putting together!

    @Pull your socks Up - just me you and the crickets babe!

    @KT - It's a bit too cold for double denim here now! On the leather jackets already. But in summer or a hot climate I do tend to wear it. I usually don't wear more than two items - usually jacket and jean/shorts/skirt combo. If jeans I avoid both jacket and jeans being a boxy fit (very builder)and both being a classic cut. So if the jacket is classic go for a current jean, if the jean classic wear a quirky jacket, or double up on the current top and bottom (I like the biker + skinny that I saw some people do this summer). I also make sure the denim of each piece I am wearing is quite different in colour and finish. So blue jacket with grey or black jeans, no head to toe acid wash. If blue on blue make sure the blue is at least two tones different. Granted I own denim in many different styles and finishes collected over the years! I'm looking for a grey distressed denim biker for a grey biker on black skinny combination aka Rachel Zoe which I thought looked great.
    But you know some days I don't really think that much about it at all!!

  20. GREAT post. I agree with your assessment of Carries don'ts and it making her a fashion icon. Fashion a pendulum and breaking rules. Fine line but do it. As for crocs, there's a new brand of hipster shoes (I wish I could remember the name for this comment) that uses the material but with hipster packaging. A top sider shoe in dove great in that lightweight croc stuff. A "ked" in black or saftey orange. $56 price tag. And I thought: of course crocs is the next hipster DO!


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