Fashion statement: when it comes to new rules, just stick with the old ones

 

The shows taking place in Paris at the moment are exercises in idealism, showcasing each designer's dream woman, head to toe in looks made for her, and styled just so according to that creative vision.

So, too, the styling tips from the catwalk have permeated down – at first it was socks and stilettos, socks with a brogue and a tea dress. Socks in general, in fact. It was tricky, but we managed to subsume them into our sartorial vernacular.

But now there comes a tide of faintly ridiculous dressing rules that we're supposed to put to good use. We want to because they look good. Because they are directives from people whose job it is to make clothes – and the people in them – look the best they possibly can.

So when Carine Roitfeld wears her jacket across her shoulders without putting her arms in the sleeves, it looks fabulous. Ditto when she doesn't bother to untuck her hair from her scarf.

But when we do it, it looks a bit try-hard. Actually, downright silly. It looks like you've copied the way a woman you admire puts her coat on. And where does it stop? Next thing, you'll be tucking your shirt into your pants like John Major.

It's the same with bags. In 2007, Miuccia Prada created a novel clutch with a side-strap, so your wrist feeds through and you grip the bag's underside. Ever since, the catwalks have suggested we carry our laden totes the same way. But everyone knows the bag-in-hand shuffle is only for when you sit in the wrong seat on the train and have to move for someone.

At Burberry's London show, models scrunched metallic drawstring bags in their little fists – a strong and statement carry, for sure, but what if, like me, you have an A4 “do not bend” envelope in your bag at all times? So unless you can develop a whole new way of wearing your coat and bag (your legs through the sleeves, perhaps, and your clutch balanced on your head?), just stick to the traditional ways: there's a reason why they've endured.

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