The Style Rules I Love To Break

The style rules I love to break. I like to follow many rules; they make life flow smoothly and reduce chaos, e.g.: drive on the right side of the road, show up for appointments on time, and never touch the Queen.

OMG this kitten is all I need.

But there are rules (guidelines at least) that show up in nearly every list of fashion tips for Women of  a Certain Age. Many of them are terrific, and others I just can’t help breaking, with gusto. Please note, I’m only speaking for myself, not judging these rules per se. Here are some of my fashion acts of everyday rebellion:

  • Get a professional bra fitting and invest in great bras. Nope, tried it, and I don’t need to. I enjoy wearing camis with built-in bras, or stretchy bras from PACT. I wear sturdy fitness bras for my workouts, but I can’t wait to take them off when I’m done.
  • Along the same lines: don’t wear those Grandma panties, try some sleek thongs. Arggghh. While not grandma-style, my personal garments are, well, normal-sized and they don’t have an agenda to invade my body parts.
  • Own a crisp white shirt. I have tried this too. I have not yet (at 66!) found a truly comfortable, flattering, easy-care white shirt. They’re just not for me. Give me a nice, heavyweight white cotton or silk tee, with an open neckline.
This is my idea of the perfect white top – soft and easy, and no ironing. : >

“I love rules and I love following them, unless that rule is stupid.”

-Anna Kendrick
  • Here comes some heresy: Avoid baggy clothing. I love and wear baggy clothing all the time. I bought two pair of baggy linen trousers this summer from Quince, and wore them almost every day. They work in Florida winter too, with a thick cotton sweater and high-top sneakers. I love baggy.
I have these trousers in beige and black. Nice price too.
  • Shapewear is a must. OK, here I know I am probably too rebellious. I recognize the nice smooth lines created by Spanx, et al. I just feel horrible all pressed in like that, and I reach instead for a looser fitting piece of clothing. I may change my mind about this, but for now, I feel freeeee.

“The hell with the rules. If it sounds right, then it is.”

-Eddie Van Halen

I’d love to hear from you! Are you an habitual rule-breaker? Do you feel a little rebellious when you wear white after Labor Day? No wrong answers, of course, we all want to be comfortable in our own skin.

Stay fabulous, xo

Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse:


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  1. The only one of your rules I don’t break is the bra rule. I just can’t do the stretchy cami bras. The “girls” are too much for that. But if I didn’t look sloppy without support, I’d so be a rule breaker for that one too.

    This list is right up my alley! I love breaking the same rules.

  2. Patti, I think we may be twins because I break every single one of the same rules you do! I can’t stand anything tight anymore and go braless or, like you, wear a cami or a stretch bra. I’m lucky that I can get away with this most of the time. I’m wearing a favorite baggy pair of jeans as we speak. Thank you for speaking out about this. Makes me feel like I am not alone!

  3. I loathe fashion rules, but I have certain guidelines that are personal to me (leggings aren’t pants, for example). I do own a white shirt, but it’s for layering and is handy for some of my more outrageous individual pieces.
    I think a lot of these rules are going the way of the dodo. Wear whatever makes you feel good.

    • Going the way of the dodo – that put a smile on my face : > And leggings aren’t pants for me either, but yeah, that’s not a rule. Stay fabulous and original, and warm, xx.

  4. I’m not a rule-follower when it comes to what I wear, and my closet probably doesn’t contain any of the “must-have basics” that every woman is told she should have. I did find a crisp white brooks brothers shirt at a thrift store, and I’m now painting it with fabric markers to make it more “ME”.

  5. I agree with everything you said except I don’t wear baggy clothing. You are thin and whatever you wear you will still look thin but I’m busty and if I wear something baggy on top, I look pregnant because the top then pokes out and makes me look 9 months! I hate the side view of that. I really don’t follow those lists of “what not to wear over 40” because I don’t like anyone telling me what to wear! I think by now, at my age, I can figure that out myself. Cheers Arlene from NJ

    • Hi Arlene and thanks for coming by. I get it about looking pregnant if you are busty – I’ve never been but my busty girlfriends tell me the same as you did: don’t go too loose on top. And yes, we are able to figure that stuff out ourselves! : > Have a great weekend, xx.

  6. Thought I was the only woman who slit the waistband on tights!
    So many of the must haves don’t suit me or my life –
    No crisp white shirt, little black dress, belted trench coat, high heeled pumps, cashmere sweaters.
    My must haves are straight leg jeans, clogs, boots, cotton sweaters, unique tops, short and long skirts, tights. Scarves and bracelets. Comfort is a must. No rules! 68 and not dead yet!

    • Good morning Ramona, nice to see you! Brava to you for dressing just as you please, and feeling good about it. Have a lovely weekend, xx.

  7. Great post as always that kitten picture was so very cute and really created such a lovely warm feeling when viewed Thank you .I also prefer a relaxed feminine white tee like the one in your goody showcase much more softly flattering on me than a crisp white button down. For me, I say no to spandex not good for circulation and yes to healthy exercise and as much firmness my muscles give me naturally.

    • Hi Joan and as always it is lovely to see you. I really like your perspective of relying on your own muscles to give you firmness, rather than elastic : > Stay fabulous and well, xx.

  8. Loved your column today! I live in Florida also and most of the time it is too hot to wear a crisp white shirt. If I had a crisp white shirt it wouldn’t stay that way very long. Same opinion about bra fittings. I walk or work out everyday so I live in sports bras. I also like PACT camis.

    • Hi Kathy and thanks for coming over. You’re right about Florida being too hot for a crisp white shirt. It’s about 76 degrees on the East Coast today : >. I must check out the PACT camis, thanks. Stay fab, xx.

  9. Definitely wear what you like and what suits you.Bodies are different, one size does not fit all!!!
    Unfortunately we do not seem to learn this until we are older ( and wiser)

    • Hello Kaye – I love what you said, esp the part about getting wiser with age! And for sure, one size has never fit all. xx

  10. I wear what I want! I like bootcut jeans and trouser cut slacks, boots or tennis shoes, and v-neck knit tops. I have a closetful of long and short-sleeved t-shirts, soft cardigans and puffer vests
    – Wisconsinite. I also have a fondness for goofy graphic t-shirts (Godzilla! Summerfest! Travel!). I don’t wear shapewear, but I did get a fitting from a quality lingerie boutique a few years ago and found myself in a very different and much more flattering bra size (large cup, small band). Love your blog ❤

    • Hi Rebecca and thanks for coming by. I am another huge fan of graphic tees (UNIQLO has some good ones). Puffer vests are wonderful for most any occasion, imho. Stay well, xx.

  11. I think these “rules” are generally aimed at larger women, to try to force a perceived best body type on them. You’re slim, Patti so can pretty much wear what you like. As I age I too want comfort and recognize that more of my clothes are less structured. I always enjoy your posts. Kerri

    • Hi Kerri Lee! Thanks for coming over and for your insights. All sizes are beautiful, and we as a culture are still fighting discrimination based on size. Hooray for comfort! Stay fab, xx.

  12. Rules? I’ve never followed fashion rules too closely; although their was a time I wore the NY work uniform of black or otherwise dark pant suits complete with the control top hose. Since retiring, I am more myself. More relaxed about clothes and go for comfort over “fashion” . loose skirts and dresses; and comfy jeans and sweats. My New Year’s resolution is to clean my closet of anything that doesn’t pass the comfort test.

    • Good morning Louise, and thanks for your comments. I love your New Year’s resolution! I did the dark suit uniform too in my youth; it’s just not “me” anymore. Stay well and fab, xx.

  13. I used to be a bit more of a fashion rule-follower. Now that I’m 74, however, I pretty much wear whatever pleases me. I’m especially motivated by comfort, so I completely agree with you about baggy clothing, and bras, and Spanx. And shoes, too. I now wear nothing but comfortable shoes, regardless of the occasion. Apparently old women are supposed to wear lighter shades of lipstick, but I always use a bold lip color. I, too, have several white button-up shirts in my closet. I do think they look flattering on me, but for some reason I never reach for them when I’m getting dressed. I guess I just prefer the relative comfort of a knit tee. I wonder why there seem to be so many more fashion rules for women than there are for men . . .

    • Hello Judy and thanks for coming by. I am with you on the knit tee! And good observation about the relative number of “rules” for women vs. men. Stay fab, xx.

  14. I’m with you as I cannot stand to wear tight jeans, or tight anything…never wore the Spanx I bought for a wedding, always have been able to chose my own bras, and need good support to hold up the girls….especially as I have aged. I wear size 8 and refuse to squeeze myself into a size 6.

    • Hi Joan, good to see you! Ha ha on not wearing the Spanx – I had bought some for my wedding 20 years ago and took them off right before the ceremony! Good for you, dressing to be true to yourself. xx

  15. “Clothes that don’t have an agenda to invade my body parts”. So right on the crisp white shirt. I always wanted to be one of those people, but they never fit right, and I actually wore one this week and I was fidgeting with it all day. Those Quince pants look comfy, and will check them out! Is the lipstick “Lady Danger”? One of my faves.

    • Good morning Mary and thanks for coming over. Yes, the fidgets! I got them every time I chose a crisp cotton shirt. I’m not made for crisp. The lipstick is Chili M, and very close to Lady Danger; you have a good eye! Stay well, xx.

  16. Haha on the “rules”. I have the white shirt everyone needs to own. It’s been hanging in my closet for 2 years with the tags on. I tried to make it work last weekend. Probably headed to Goodwill. I also have a LBD with tags!! That may never see daylight either. SPANX? Nope. Control top pantyhose was too tight for me when I tried to wear it. ICK!

    • Hi MP and thanks for your comment. The stuff in our closets with tags still on reminds us that even the “classics” aren’t for everyone, eh? Totally agree about control top hose; I always would cut slits into the waistband! Stay fab, xx.

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