Demystifying Style Taboos

Remember those superstitions you’d hear spouted as you were growing up? How many of them still haunt you? “Don’t cross your eyes, or they’ll get stuck”, “Don’t open an umbrella indoors”, and how many of us are still terrified of getting too close to the TV, lest we go blind?

You’ve probably heard your fair share of silly style rules, too. Some old-fashioned taboos might have been broken, but what about those that still linger today?

We’re set to clear up nine of them, once and for all…

1. No White In Winter

Summer 2014 may have been the season of white-on-white but now that the weather’s taken a more wintry turn, it seems white is once again a no-go.

I actually got reprimanded by a receptionist a couple of weeks ago for combining a grey flannel blazer with white jeans. She did had have a point when it started to rain. On dry days, however, white acts as a welcome antidote to the austerity of darker, cold-weather shades.

If you’re not sure how to pull it off, just play it this way: swap your trusty blue denim jeans for a white pair, or layer an off-white jumper/roll neck under your winter tailoring. Simple.

Men's White Winter Clothing - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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2. The Brown Shoe Debacle

Can brown footwear be matched with a grey suit? What about navy or black tailoring?

OK, let’s put an end to this once and for all: brown shoes (we’re talking shades from chocolate to dark brown) will make the hue of a navy suit look richer, stand out beautifully against grey flannel and, when paired with black tailoring, adds an unexpected twist to your look.

However, if you’re attending a formal evening or black tie event, stick with black.

Brown Shoes With Grey, Navy And Black Suits - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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3. White Socks

I’m not talking white socks with trainers at the gym. I’m talking white socks with loafers, brogues or Derbies. This Michael Jackson-esque throwback proves surprisingly controversial and is sure to get people talking (for all the right reasons, of course).

To better your chances of nailing this one, make sure the trousers you team your white socks with are slightly shorter than usual, or pointedly roll up your jeans, so people know you’re making a thought-through statement and don’t mistake your style daring for lazy laundry habits.

Steer clear of branded sports socks and opt for styles made from the same type of cotton, wool, or blends that you would wear with your casual attire. White and some off-white shades like chalk work but anything beige or darker won’t make the cut.

Men's White Socks Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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4. No Sun, No Sunglasses

Plenty of us have been guilty of branding a guy wearing sunglasses in dreary weather an out-and-out douche but the truth is, sunglasses simply aren’t just for the sun.

Not only do shades shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, they can also act as brightness filters, hangover concealers, sight-improvers (some people add corrections to theirs), and most importantly: stylish accessories.

So, there’s really no reason to hesitate in pulling out a pair to round out your look, even on a gloomy winter’s day – just be sure to select restrained, classic styles rather than brightly coloured frames.

Sunglasses In Winter - Men's Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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5. Tweed Is Not For Town, But Country

This is a favourite of the stuffy style set who tend to have convulsions if wardrobe classics are worn ‘out of context’.

Come on, quality tweed (whether in the form of a suit, jacket or trousers) skilfully paired with urban essentials like slim jeans, a denim button-down or leather jacket will create a fantastic city look, and makes a welcome alternative to the black/grey flannel we’d be sporting full time otherwise.

Men's Tweed Jackets and Trousers City Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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6. White Metals Only, When It Comes To Watches

There was a time when many style aficionados deemed gold watches grossly over-the-top, flashy, showy etc., and preached that true style is manifest in more subtle, white metal pieces. Yet these same naysayers promptly ate their words as watches rendered in rose and yellow gold or featuring blackened finishes rapidly gained popularity.

The truth is, a well-designed timepiece should look good no matter what the finish – it’s all about what you team it with. If you feel your watch is flashy, keep the remainder of your outfit pared-back with a classic silhouette and more muted colours.

After all, few things are more beautiful than a gold dress watch: thin, discreet and timeless.

Men's Gold and Rose Gold WatchesImage: MVMT Watches

7. Denim-On-Denim

For me, this is uncharted territory, but whenever I see someone doing denim-on-denim right, I feel a quiet pang of jealousy. It works, and looks unexpectedly cool – if you pull it off correctly. So how exactly do you strike the right balance?

Doubling up on denim is done best by mixing several different fades and textures. For example, if you’re wearing a distressed vintage trucker jacket up top, then go for solid indigo selvedge or raw denim jeans on the bottom. By the same token, you could team a new pair of straight-leg black jeans with a bleached shirt.

Denim-on-denim only gets dangerous if you fail to follow that guiding principle.

Men's Double Denim Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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8. Navy & Black Is A No-No

This is another age-old myth that’s bandied about without any real consideration. That navy and black shouldn’t be worn together is a pretty much baseless rule, tenuously rooted in the belief that colours that look too similar simply don’t go together. Does that mean no more light grey with white? An end to tonal dressing entirely?

Not if you’ve got any sense. The old adage, ‘rules are meant to be broken’, was pretty much conceived to address pointless rules like this one – so don’t hesitate to pair your midnight blue brogues with a black suit or team an oversized navy chambray shirt with a black bomber jacket.

Wearing black and navy only presents an issue when you’re looking to clearly delineate lines in your silhouette. Want to emphasise the pleasing contrast between your cropped length grey woollen trousers and inky-black chunky-soled Derbies? Then you’re probably better off avoiding navy socks since they’ll naturally blend with your footwear to form a slightly amorphous mass of dark colour that undoes the tiered effect you’re after.

As is so often the case, it’s all about eyeing your look in the mirror as you’re putting it together to get an accurate idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Men's Navy and Black Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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9. It’s All About The Slim Fit

No, it really isn’t.

Ever since Hedi Slimane garnered a cult following for the drainpipe aesthetic he honed at Dior Homme (2001-2007), we’ve been pounding out miles on treadmills in an attempt to fit into slim- and skinny-fit jeans. Now, almost fifteen years since he took the helm at the Parisian house, many of us are still stuck on skinny when, in fact, there’s a plethora of alternative (and in many cases more comfortable) styles designers have been pushing for several seasons.

From loopback-cotton cuffed tailored sweatpants to relaxed-fit trousers in traditional fabrics like wool, today’s on-trend iterations are all about ease and finding that smart-casual sweet spot. Of course, slim is still most definitely in (and works seamlessly with some of this season’s oversized tees and sweatshirts) but it’s by no means the be all and end all.

Try branching out with some wide-leg, single pleat styles for a new take on formal trousers or cop a pair of panelled sweatpants as the basis for an unstoppable sports luxe look.

Men's Relaxed Fitting Trousers and Clothing Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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Final Word

There you have it, nine outdated style taboos that no longer apply to the modern, style-conscious gent.

But now it’s over to you – what style ‘rules’ or guidelines do you like to flaunt on a daily basis?

Let us know in the comments section below…