The other day I overheard a woman strongly dissuade her boyfriend from purchasing a horizontal striped shirt, advising him simply but effectively: “Everyone knows horizontal stripes make you look bigger than you are,”- the boyfriend did not purchase the T-shirt.
But before we dismiss the ever popular formula of ‘Dos and Don’ts’ as a series of overused and watered-down guidelines, constructed by gossip magazines and overbearing fashion hosts, lets give it one more chance.
How do we navigate the wild world of fashion? Acting as a guide when faced with the looming question of ‘what to wear’, and ‘when?’ or ‘how?’, the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ provide a sort of comfort for anyone faced with the grey areas of getting dressed, and to avoid the shame of wearing the ‘wrong’ outfit. However tacky, there is some value in categorizing the infinite possibilities of wearing, the act is reduced to a black and white, ‘yes or no’, that is blatantly decisive, so in a way it is only a natural byproduct of fashion. The ‘Dos and Don’ts’ are also beautifully simplistic, in that for any question we ask, we have a positive or negative response, so one can never be in doubt. And fashion isn’t easy to tame, it is fast-paced, and intricate, imbued with many almost imperceptible rules, making it look so easy, and this is the key to the charm, the fleeting casualness gives the impression that whatever is being worn, is being worn for a reason, despite its off-handedness. To quote Oscar Wilde, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months,” and, to help us keep up we have, thankfully, the ‘Dos and Don’ts’.
But then again, here are Isaac Mizrahi’s thoughts-