When I was a child, my Aunt Connie worked for the Yankee Maid clothing factory in Brooklyn. Even though her job didn’t require her to wear professional clothing, she loved to wear beautiful outfits to work. For Aunt Connie, dressing well meant strict adherence to certain fashion rules. She warned us to “never wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day,” to “never mix prints,” and to color-match shoes and pocketbooks.

As much fun as it is to dress up and to be in tune with the seasons, it seems to me that this would require lots and lots of separate items to fit the bill. In fact, when my aunt passed away, we had almost 10 bags of clothes and accessories to donate to thrift stores.

Changing the Fashion Rules

It is time to relax those old rules and make better use of the clothes that we have year-round. Maybe colors that were considered a mismatch years ago can be used together today. I am sure colors like brown and pink were not popular, but I have gotten compliments by wearing that combination and by pairing items that I already have rather than buying new ones to match my brown pants.

I have worn white jeans in the winter and black jeans in the summer with no problem. I think that what you pair it with makes it right for the season. Boots and a lightweight sweater in winter, sandals and a sleeveless top in the summer. No need to put away white or black pants for the season!

And what’s wrong with wearing prints together? Well, according to Aunt Connie’s old fashion rules, they clashed! But I have been seeing more print combos in magazines lately, and it seems like a fun way of using pieces together that you might not have thought of.

Although I like a more pulled together look for work — most days I am wearing black pants and shoes with a brightly colored top — at home, anything goes. I remember my mom’s advice about wearing clothes that were not perfect or perfectly matched “around the house.” I can be as bohemian as I like!

Making the Most of Clothing We Already Own

I think that this way of dressing could help reduce the amount of laundry we do. Instead of tossing an item in the laundry after just one wear just because it doesn’t match, you could wear it again with something different. You are making use of the clothes that you maybe wore just once and washed instead of using freshly laundered items just because they “match.” Washing your clothes less often saves water and energy and can help extend the life of your clothing!

I remember the fun conversations about fashion with women of Mom’s and Aunt Connie’s generation with a lot of fondness. But I think that these days we need to be aware of the fashion industry’s environmental impact‘s environmental impact and relax the old fashion rules to help our planet.

Feature images courtesy of Jo-B from Pixabay

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.