Perhaps you read fashion magazines and style columns, with pages spewing directives about what you "must have now", "what's hot" and "what's out."
Nowadays, fashion bloggers are vying for your attention, and your blog post clicks, as they dish out their opinions on what you should and shouldn't wear -- never mind that they don't even know you.
Our questions to you: Do you really need others dictating what your fashion choices should be? How seriously should you take all this fashion advice?
The truth is, there's a lot of nonsense fashion advice in circulation. It's about time someone steps in and does some hardcore analysis about whether any of this advice makes sense. We're here to share the worst fashion advice we've ever heard -- and to help you wrap your head around some smarter approaches. Furthermore, we give you permission to ignore all the really bad fashion advice you've encountered.
Bad, Outdated Advice: "Always Buy the Best Quality You Can Afford."
You may have come across this advice in various places, from dress for success handbooks to style columns in your local newspaper. Commissioned salespeople at high-end stores are particularly fond of repeating this, as are some baby boomer moms who learned it from their moms.
While there are times when this does happen to be wise advice, it doesn't hold true across the board and for every purchase -- or even for most purchases.
Improved, More Current Advice: Where it really counts, buy the absolute top quality apparel you can afford. Otherwise, buy the minimum quality garments that will reasonably meet your expectations and get the job done.
Here's our reasoning on this point. Let's say you're buying a trendy t-shirt you expect to wear at least once a week. You envision this shirt will become part of an everyday casual type outfit you'll wear around on weekends. This is a garment that you're likely to spill ketchup on when you go out for hamburgers. Maybe your infant daughter will throw up on it when you burp her after a meal. Your cat can be trusted to tear tiny claw holes in it if it misses the laundry hamper when you take it off at the end of the day.
If the t-shirt does somehow manage to escape these sorts of disasters, it's going to be outdated by sometime next season anyway.
So really, how is spending more money on a high quality t-shirt going to change the outcome of this t-shirt's lifespan?
The main takeaway here: It doesn't make sense to pay for top quality on a garment with a short expected lifespan. It makes more sense to save your money for investing in quality pieces that do need to last you a long time. It's worth paying more for pieces where the quality of the piece directly affects its lifespan in a positive way.
Where you'll get the best payoff for investing your money in quality pieces: It's when you buy key accessories like jewelry, shoes, and handbags. When it comes to long-term investments, precious metal jewelry and top quality watches often hold their value, while cheap jewelry doesn't. Clothes rarely hold their value either, although there are exceptions.
Winter coats and business suits offer better investment opportunities than more casual clothes like t-shirts, summer tanks, trendy tops, shorts and jeans.
When you budget your purchases, allocate more for pieces that will become long-term staples in your wardrobe. Otherwise opt for the most attractive prices on the pieces that offer an acceptable level of overall value.
Bad Advice: "If You're Over 40, You Absolutely Cannot Wear ____________."
Your fortieth birthday is not an arbitrary deadline for getting rid of clothes that make you feel sexy, young, cute, trendy or any other adjective. That's a ridiculous idea. As far as we're aware, no laws in any state or country dictate that your fortieth birthday is the official starting point for the era in your life when you need to start looking, dressing and acting like an old matron.
There are women who, at forty, look healthier and sexier than average twentysomethings. It's silly to dictate to such women that they shouldn't wear spandex, short skirts, cutoff shorts or bikinis -- if that's what they want to wear.
More Empowering Advice: At any age, it's advantageous to assess how you want others to perceive you -- and then make an effort to tailor your wardrobe, your personal style and your image accordingly.
Let's say you've made a conscious decision that you want to exude a playful, youthful image. In that case, it's no crime for you to incorporate cartoon characters and fun barrettes into your wardrobe. There's no need to abandon your sense of personal style to fit someone else's ideals about what you should be wearing at whatever age you happen to be.
Where wardrobe choices like these could be more problematic is in cases where you've decided you want to be perceived as mature, dignified or sophisticated. In that case, it's likelier that Hello Kitty and Bugs Bunny t-shirts are not the best clothing choices for you. Of course, we're sure you didn't need us to tell you that.
Bad Advice: "If You're Trying to Lose Weight, a Good Motivator Is Buying Clothes in the Size You Want to Be.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. We hate this advice.
Every woman, no matter her weight / size / age, has the ability to dress beautifully, and to make the most of her assets. There's no reason to stake your entire identity on your weight or dress size. Sure, if you're dissatisfied with your weight or dress size, it's fine to pursue your goals to reach your ideals. In the meanwhile, don't get caught up in living for the future, at the expense of enjoying the amazing gift of life you have now.
Better Advice: Spend your money on the perfect clothes for the life you're living now. If you already have the right clothes for the life you're living now, then save your money for splurging on a new wardrobe once you reach your weight loss goals.
Unless you have an unlimited clothing budget, it makes zero sense for you to tie up money in clothes you may or may never get to wear. Plus, without having the opportunity to try the clothes on your fabulous future new body, you never know if they're going to flatter your new shape.
What if you lose more weight than you ever expected? Or what if you do lose the weight you were expecting, but the new clothes aren't the right fit for the new, muscular you that will emerge from your efforts? It would be tragic to have invested cash in pieces that just won't work for you.
Clueless Opinion Presented as Advice: "Black Shoes Go With Everything."
This advice misses the mark because it ignores the fact that fashion savvy people are attuned to subtle color nuances. While it's true that black is a versatile and classic color that does pair well with a variety of different ensembles, it is not true that black shoes go with everything.
More Sensible Advice: It's unrealistic to expect a single pair of shoes to cover every possible wardrobe contingency. However, you may find yourself in a situation where you only want to buy one pair of shoes that season. If that's the case, a black pair might be the best choice for your wardrobe needs. Then again, it might not be.
If the majority of pieces in your current wardrobe are in the black or gray color families, black is probably, indeed, the ideal shoe color for your one and only pair of new shoes. On the other hand, if browns, beiges and khakis dominate your current wardrobe, your needs may be better served by choosing a lovely rich brown colored pair of shoes instead.
So now you're updated on some of the worst fashion advice we've ever heard. We hope the ideas we've shared here will empower you to ignore any advice that hinders you in your quest for expressing your own unique sense of personal style.