New Year’s resolutions are a candy business. Sobriety. Budget. This time of year it’s all about batch cooking healthy root vegetable dishes and rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, then flossing before bed. She’s diligent and well-behaved, but not, you’ll be pleased to know, fashionable. This is the perfect time to break some rules.
In fact, I think that breaking one of the so-called style rules every day is key to looking modern. I don’t mean scruffy. I mean include one thing in your look that brings an element of surprise. We follow the rules without even realizing we’re doing it: what colors go together, what’s age-appropriate, what hemlines are expected at the office, what earrings are a little fancy for the supermarket.
Deliberately disobeying a single law when dressing up is a visual wink, a sideways glance at the camera that works like a friendly email. It brings a spark of life and humanity to the figure you cut out as you walk down the street, and cheers us all up.
At a Chanel show in Paris last year, the models wore strappy back hiking socks and they looked terrific.
It’s especially important at this time of year, when the practicalities of keeping warm tend to make our outfits same and banal. Summer is, naturally, a bit dressier (sunglasses in hair, skimpy dresses, brightly painted toenails on sandals), but January is a sea of black puffer jackets and boots or sturdy sneakers. and en bloc and endless dark jeans all wearing the same phone bag. in the right back pocket.
A little bit of conscious effort can make a big difference. Take socks. Sensible pants with a sturdy brogue or sneaker are an attractive and practical combination for winter, but they don’t make your heart sing. An unexpected pair of socks, red or bright wool, will lift everything. The key is to make sure it looks deliberate, not like you didn’t realize your socks were visible: choose a good quality pair and think about polishing your shoes and/or rolling up your pant hem an inch. Small thing, big difference. Unexpected socks are also fun for the night. At a Chanel show in Paris last year, the models wore thick, knobby walking socks with slingbacks, and they looked terrific.
Breaking the style rules doesn’t mean looking flashy. Pairing navy with black is traditionally a no-no, but it’s actually very stylish: a navy knit under a black suit, or a navy dress with black tights, looks minimalist but not boring. I also feel like the navy with black is a bit French, although I couldn’t give you any evidence of this. Gray with camel (for example, a camel knit sweater with gray tailored trousers) is chic, professional and a bit Italian.
Related: Few things are as glamorous or Christmassy as sequins… but don’t go for the new ones | Jess Cartner-Morley
I’m always amazed at the hold the rule against mixing gold and silver jewelry has over seemingly free-thinking women. (Fun fact: Kate Moss once told me that’s the only style rule she sticks to.) But there’s no reason not to break it; in fact, as few people do, wearing gold and silver together is an easy way to look hipster without, you know, going all out with a purple hat or brightly colored tights.
Opportunities to break the rules can be tailored to your personal tastes. After all, amplifying those tastes is exactly what you want to do. So if you like wearing stripes, try wearing two stripes together: a striped sweater tied around your shoulders over a striped shirt, for example. If leopard print makes you happy, treat it as a neutral and wear it every day.
Pick a rule, any rule, and break it. The choice is yours. And you can change your mind tomorrow. If only all New Year’s resolutions were this much fun.
Photography assistant: Bruce Horak. Model: Eliana in Body London. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson wearing Bumble & Bumble and Laura Mercier. Dress: Align. Socks: whistles. Heels: Dune London