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10 new fashion rules for 2008

Lisa Armstrong Times Online
10 new fashion rules for 2008

We all love rules – but some fashion diktats need of an update. Lisa Armstrong reveals the guidelines we really need

Days into 2008, it has become painfully apparent that there’s a 2007 feeling hovering over proceedings. 1997 would be more like it. The trends are different, obviously. In the run-up to spring 1997 we were thinking about florals, colour and wedges, whereas in the run-up to spring 2008 we’re thinking about different kinds of florals, colours and wedges.

God really is in the details. And the devil is in the rules. Which is tough, because we all love rules, even anarchists. Why else would rock’n’roll rebels, lawless dictators, etc, act in such a predictable way? Rules are comfortable, particularly when they’re slightly irritating – and they’re keeping an entire industry in self-help annuals afloat. So I’m not suggesting doing away with them, merely – in this month of makeovers – applying some nip and tuck principles to the more useless ones.

1. Ankle straps foreshorten the leg. But only if the ankle strap is the width of a belt, slices horizontally across your ankle and is worn over bare legs or clashing tights. However, is this really so much worse than wearing a shoe that falls off every time you have to negotiate a stair? The right strap – sitting slightly below the ankle – can help define an ankle. Besides, if you wear them with toning tights, cankle problem solved.

2. All things in moderation. Yawn. In 2008, one item in your outfit should be utterly immoderate: huge ring, stonking platform,deafening pop of colour, vast cuffs. Enough superlatives for you?

3. Every woman needs a white shirt. Wrong. Only women who look good in a white shirt need one. Some look better in white T-shirts.

4. Women over 50 can’t wear their hair long. They can if their hair is still shiny and fabulous. File in bin along with the rule about blonde being more flattering as you age – not on everyone it isn’t.

5. Kate Moss and Nicole Kidman are style icons. Ergo even when they look dodgy, they must be right. Wrong. Kate Moss and Nicole Kidman are human and, as 2007 proved, fallible. Trust your instincts on this. And can we agree that the words style, fashion and icon should never again be used in the same paragraph?

6. You can’t go wrong with a trench coat. Actually, you can. Epaulettes, flaps and lots of buttons swamp some women. Just because it's a classic, it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

7. Black and navy blue will never do. Another one from the Ark, although I think periwinkle was the hot shade then. Black and navy can look very chic – black tights and certainly black patent shoes toughen up a navy outfit and stop it looking like a uniform.

8. High heels lengthen the legs. True, obviously. But while high is good, higher isn’t always better. When a short woman teeters on stilts, bottom and bosoms set off at weird angles, making her resemble a spiral staircase, the issue of whether her legs have technically become longer is irrelevant.

9. No miniskirts over 40. More superannuated diktats from the age police. If you’ve got them (and they still look fabulous), flaunt them, but probably best to draw the line at the lower thigh.

10. Don’t wear the same trend twice. Utter twaddle. Trends come round so fast now that would preclude almost everything we have come to recognise as clothing.