Fashion Mistakes: Things You Should Never Wear

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They say the first impression is perhaps the most important, but we're here to say that image is just one part of the puzzle. How you present yourself, your carriage, and confidence — these are all integral parts of nailing that initial introduction, and so much of that value and presence comes from within. Of course, sometimes it is helpful to wear your power outfit or carry that one purse that always brings in compliments. While your value is about far more than what's on the outside, that little extra boost might just be what you need to walk out in confidence (and style, of course).

Everyone has their own unique approach to fashion — whether you consider yourself a trend-follower (don't let anyone tell you there's something wrong with that), a former emo kid who never lost their edge, or you've fully embraced the coastal grandmother trend, style is for everyone and it's up to you how you want to define it.

But for some of us, hunting through the racks at the department store or scrolling through webpage after webpage while shopping online presents a minefield of options — so many that it can get overwhelming. If you need some help and want to know what items should never go in your cart, we've got you covered.

One fashion mistake has the power to impact everything you wear

The key to stepping out with your best foot forward has got to be comfort. After 2020 and since the rise of working from home, sweatpants and slippers have become far more normal. Yes, being comfortable has never been more intertwined with our daily lives. For so many of us, the key to fashion begins with the bras we wear, as donning the wrong size or kind can pretty much be a life-ruiner.

As noted by The New York Times, stores including Victoria's Secret have pushed the sentiment that about 80% of people wear the wrong size bra. While this turns out to be a bit of an exaggeration, it does bring to light a very important issue: many people are wearing bras that are either too tight, too big, have too much padding — the list goes on and on. Wearing the wrong bra is certainly a fashion mistake to avoid. Luckily, companies like ThirdLove and True & Co. are changing the intimate apparel game.

"We've always focused on this idea, 'Are you wearing the right size?'" Heidi Zak, the co-founder and chief executive of ThirdLove, explained to The New York Times. "I think that we're actually trained as women to be like, 'If you don't wear a cookie-cutter size, then there's nothing for you.'" There's absolutely nothing wrong with you — so head to an inclusive company, find your ideal size, and watch as your fashion game — and confidence — transform.

If you're going to revisit a retro style, bring it into the modern era

It seems as though there's always an ongoing renaissance when it comes to trending styles. Thanks to "Stranger Things," we're seeing some of the old '80s looks coming back onto the scene. And while we can hear Millennials screaming into the void, Y2K fashion of the early 2000s (including low-rise jeans) has even made a comeback. And while these decades-old trends are really fun to incorporate into your wardrobe, here's a tried and true tip you need to hear: Never wear retro pieces without first giving them a modern edge, otherwise you'll look like a jazzerciser ready to break a sweat with Jane Fonda rather than a trendy young person who's paying homage to the 1980s with an eclectic print or chunky earring.

As Vogue noted, we've witnessed retro looks reemerge onto the fashion scene; however, the fashion magazine explained that it's incredibly important to modernize the old-school silhouettes, as truly no one needs earlobe-high shoulder pads and ill-fitting hippy vests. We're content with those staying in the past. Fashion is always about individual expression, and if paying homage to a decade gone by is a part of your style repertoire, well, there's a fashionable and unfashionable way to do it.

There's a cardinal sin when it comes to ankle boots

Is there anything as versatile as the ankle boot? The perfect shoe for that in-between summer and fall weather, the ankle boot is a tried and true classic that never really seems to go out of style. But when it comes to things you should never wear, you must be aware of one ankle boot caveat. Michelle Scanga, the managing editor for Who What Wear, shared that wearing socks of a particular color with ankle boots is the worst fashion faux pas of all.

"Oh, this is so bad to me — wearing white socks with ankle boots and the socks kind of peek out from the boots. I only consider this a mistake when it's obvious that wasn't the wearer's intention," Scanga said. "If you're going for a cool sock and boot moment, be my guest, but there's definitely a difference in my book. My suggestion is to buy a pair of thin black socks and wear those with all your ankle boots."

Looking for that perfect pair of ankle boots to not wear white socks with? New York Magazine gave their top spot to the Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea Boots. So head on over to their website or your nearest store, and don't forget to buy a pair of thin black socks while you're out.

We love a high-waisted jean, but don't make this tragic mistake

Perhaps nothing is more beloved in the avocado toast community than a high-waisted jean (seriously, if we had it our way, our jeans would come up to our bra straps), and there's a good reason for the style's success. It's flattering on a lot of different body types, it keeps everything in, and can be styled in a way that's both trendy and classic. What's not to love, right?

Well, we're here to tell you that there is a fashion mistake you might be making when it comes to your beloved jeans, and you need to stop ASAP. If you're pairing your high-waisted jeans with a shapeless top or oversized layer that falls well below your waist, this is your sign to change. The whole point of the high-waisted jean is to flatter those curves and highlight different parts of your silhouette, so pair your shirts accordingly.

Girl Goop fashion director Ali Pew gave some great suggestions, writing that "opposites attract" when it comes to styling these jeans. Opt for a great, classic t-shirt that can be tucked at the waist (a French tuck, for all you Tan France fans out there). Or better yet, choose a flattering blouse or tank top with great detailing, bringing attention to your killer style and personality.

Not wearing white after Labor Day is the real mistake

The old rule of "no white after Labor Day" has fallen out of fashion. In fact, you should wear white after the holiday. Of course, Labor Day falls in September and arguably marks the beginning of the end of summer. And while so many of us will continue to wear our hot weather dresses and tank tops in the hot end-of-summer sun, we've hesitated to wear white. However, this outdated fashion rule no longer applies.

As noted by Time, this rule was born out of the aristocracy, as members of "polite society" would mark their summering activities with looks made up of "white linen suits" and "Panama hats," as Charlie Scheips, author of "American Fashion," explained. "If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," Scheips said, his assertion expanded by Valerie Steele. "It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out," Steele said, "and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules."

Basically, we're saying bust out those crisp white t-shirts in your closet — whether it's May or September.

You might want to put the plaid mini skirt back on the rack

We all went through a phase in which we pretended to be Cher from "Clueless," but that's just not the reality. And we hate to break it to you, but if you're old enough to drink or have renter's insurance, you need to put that plaid pleated mini skirt back on the rack. We know, we know — it was a great look when you were 15. The schoolgirl style à la Britney Spears in "Baby One More Time" was groundbreaking, but by the time you're invested in what pillow you need to use to stop your neck from hurting in the morning, a plaid mini skirt has no place in your closet.

We're not saying that all mini skirts are out of the question — just avoid combining plaid, pleated detailing, and the mini silhouette all at the same time (via Cosmopolitan). Trust us on this one.

In order to rock a mini these days, stylist Elizabeth Sulcer advises striking a balance. She told Harper's Bazaar, "Showing skin on the bottom and [being] more covered on top could be a chic and still youthful way to embrace the trend."

Accessories can make or break your outfit

Okay, you've put so much time and effort into your outfit and you're ready to hit the town. You've checked all the fashion boxes — from the cute, tailored pants to the slide-on mules to the flattering blouse. But then, just as you're about to head out the door, you grab the old purse that you've been carrying around since your college days. You know, the one that's full of old receipts and four Chapsticks, because they all seem to go missing while you're out and about. Here's yet another fashion tip for you — it's time to replace your old bag and work that all-important accessory into your outfit.

Insider noted that accessories and purses can be the finishing touches on otherwise excellently put together ensembles. Make the wrong choice, though, and your whole look could suffer. But don't think that you have to max out your credit card on a new purse just to keep things stylish. This shoulder bag that's very circa 2000s Coach is available on Amazon for $20 or, if totes are more your thing, this Marc Jacobs dupe is available to snag for $21.

Once your bag is determined, don't forget to round out the look with some tried and true accessories. Pair a classic leather watch with huggie gold hoop earrings, and your outfit will look polished and put together.

A childhood favorite should absolutely stay off your fashion list

The days of childhood — marked by fairies, make-believe, and butterflies — are just as sweet to look back on now as they were when we were engaging in such joyful times. And while so many of us want to capture that innocence and hold onto it for as long as possible, butterflies in particular should never make it into your wardrobe. In a round-up of adult closet no-nos, Cosmopolitan noted that butterfly t-shirts — and, really, t-shirts emblazoned with any sort of animal decal — have a tendency to look "a little juvenile," and we couldn't agree more. While it's adorable to see your nephew in a dinosaur t-shirt or your niece wearing a shirt with a tiger printed on it, you wouldn't want to take fashion inspo from a toddler.

If bringing a whimsical and animal-inspired look into your closet is particularly important to you, there are ways of doing it that are far more chic and on an adult level. Who What Wear detailed some of the best animal print looks, and they really don't disappoint. Try pairing a sleek, leopard print slip dress with a cropped leather jacket and heels — the juxtaposition of the delicate dress against the cool leather will create a seriously sharp look.

Buy what fits, regardless of the size

Here's a doozie for you: Don't wear items of clothing that don't fit you properly, period. Okay, actually there's a lot more that goes into this, and we're going to break down the reality that is size trapping and what it can do to someone's mentality and self-love.

Every person who shops in the women's section can tell you that the sizing goes up and down like a yo-yo. A size 6 in one pair of jeans from Old Navy will fit like a glove, while a size 6 from Urban Outfitters may not get up past your knees. How could the same size have completely different results? It has nothing to do with you or your body, but rather the size differentiation between brands. For many women, it can be really difficult not to tie our sense of self-worth to the size we see on the label — any young girl who grew up reading fashion magazines can tell you that — but it's truly a losing game. Instead of buying the same size over and over again and accepting a poor fit, choose whichever size fits well.

If you're especially keen on well-fitting clothes, Nicole Akhtarzad, the market editor for Who What Wear, suggests going a step further and taking your clothes to a tailor to get that perfect item. "As someone who obsessively tailors everything, I cringe when I see people wearing things that are in need of some seamstress love," Akhtarzad said. "Whether it's a hem that's too long or a dress that needs to be taken in at the waist, it's all about the fit for me."

There's a hard and fast rule when it comes to graphic tees

If you love a graphic tee, you're not alone. From band t-shirts to cool art deco designs, the simple graphic tee has gotten a lot of love over the years. And while we're all here for the tastefully done Nirvana shirt or the adorable, oversized tee that features a tiny little embroidered smiley face in the center, there are some graphic tee rules that you absolutely should follow. Namely, never wear a shirt that someone has to stand and read.

These shirts often come off as childish. And when we use garments such as these to do the talking for us, we may be presenting a version of ourselves to the world that we don't intend to. So, put your funny sayings on your reusable water bottle in sticker form, or cover your laptop case in your favorite meme-culture material — but keep it off your shirt.

Personal stylist Peter Nguyen and founder of The Essential Man recommends opting for one-word graphic tees instead of overly wordy styles. "Single words ... feel a bit more sophisticated than a phrase t-shirt, which often comes off as cheesy."

If you're DIYing your t-shirts, you need to stop immediately

While there's something incredibly nostalgic about the days at summer camp — where tie-dye t-shirts were all the rage — we have some news that may not bode well for some. If you're still cutting up your old t-shirts to fashion into "new" designs, you need to stop... like now. We know what you might be thinking: "What's wrong with up-cycling a t-shirt and making it into a fringe tank or halter top?" And while we're with you on that logic, chances are your newly designed at-home wear is going to last a couple of washes, at best. Furthermore, from a style perspective, the upcycled t-shirt was very mid-2010s, when cartoon mustaches were plastered on literally everything and Pinterest boards were awash with gingham, wide diagonal stripes, long cardigans, and the chunkiest heels we've ever seen. Those days are long behind us, and your DIY shirts need to stay there, too.

If you're looking for some affordable and comfortable alternatives — like a t-shirt — but more fashion-forward, opt for a tank top or halter. Chances are, you'll find a style that fits your needs. Bonus: You can donate your old tees instead of hacking them to shreds!

We hate to break it to you, but most bows need to go

There was a time when bows on your shoes or bold bow detailing on shoulders and cuffs of sweaters was a thing, but that time has since passed. If you find yourself at the department store and you're inching toward the metallic shirt with outlandish bows along the sleeves in a very JoJo Siwa-like fashion, we're begging you to put it back.

As Cosmopolitan noted, it's incredibly difficult to incorporate bows into your wardrobe without "looking like a child" or "cheerleader." Rule of thumb: Put the bow back. Or, if you're really dying to wear the look, opt for a very subtle bow. This look can work, as Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, demonstrated. Spotted with a small black bow detail in her hair, Kate's incorporation of the look was subtle and timeless — it wasn't outlandish, and it definitely didn't take away from the elegance of her look. So, if bows are just your thing, think about adding a bow around your ponytail and make sure that the strings of the bow are significantly longer than the actual bow itself. This will make for a subdued, adult look.