The thing about fashion rules nowadays is that there are no rules, according to Geoffrey Henning, vice president of women’s design and fashion at JCPenney. Sorry, but mom’s old-fashioned rules just don’t apply anymore. Today, it’s all about owning your own style—whatever that might be. Embrace your body, and don’t be ashamed to flaunt your figure, tastefully. Henning recommends to “always have a thermometer on yourself. Ask yourself, ‘how do I want to be perceived?’”
Style isn’t about showing a lot of skin—it’s about expressing who you are through the fabrics, textures, color and fit of your outfit. So, be yourself. Don’t feel restricted by outdated regulations that really don’t apply to our always-evolving world.
We sat down with Henning to get a fashion insider’s take on the mom rules we should consider ditching.
MOM RULE: No white after Labor Day
HENNING SAYS: White is luxurious any time of year. White denim can be worn during any season, and ivory looks gorgeous in luxe, silky fabrics. Same goes for black. Black is back, year-round. Black denim and black leather don’t have a curfew. Black is great for the workplace, and black denim and leather can easily transition from day to night. Color works year-round, so feel free to play around with it, no matter the season.
MOM RULE: Save the bling and sequins for the holidays and special events
HENNING SAYS: No way. Again, there are no rules. But to keep it casual, choose one shiny and one neutral piece—not head-to-toe bling. Show some shine in a great pair of foil-print denim. Or choose a metallic/sequins sleeveless top and pair it with boyfriend jeans for a really contemporary look.
MOM RULE: Don’t mix your metals
HENNING SAYS: Every metal works together. In fact, the more modern approach to accessorizing is to mix gold, silver, bronze, etc. To give the look a fresh, new feel, go overboard. Make a statement. The more multi metals, the better. In contrast, if you’re sticking to a pure metal, less is more. Pure-metal accessorizing looks more refined when kept simple.
MOM RULE: Mixing prints in one outfit is a no-no
HENNING SAYS: There’s nothing wrong with being adventurous. Mixing prints was driven by Gucci. It’s anti-fashion in a cool, quirky way. The bolder the print, the better. For example, plaid and floral work really well together. Mix warm and cool colors for a look that really stands out. You have to be super-confident for this style. When you look in the mirror and tell yourself that it doesn’t work, that’s when you know you’ve nailed it.
MOM RULE: Never pair denim on denim
HENNING SAYS: Denim on denim works! The key is to pair a variety of denim. Try a refined, nicely tailored denim shirt with distressed, worn-in jeans. Different textures on denim work well, too. Don’t be afraid to keep the same wash, head-to-toe, but keep it authentic. The best way to do this is to marry the period, wash and silhouette. Go ’70s with a light-wash button-up shirt knotted at the waist. Pair it with light-wash high-waist flared jeans for a look that’s effortlessly chic.
MOM RULE: Wearing a dress? Better slip on your pantyhose.
HENNING SAYS: Stay away from the nudes. Pantyhose are a fashionable yes when colored. A black-and-white shift dress with bright-colored pantyhose is a great ’60s moment. The best way to wear them is to be more dramatic than practical. The look is intentional, not necessary.
Geoffrey Henning oversees a team of more than five dozen in-house JCPenney designers and textile artists. Fluent in French, he travels globally throughout Europe, Asia and the United States to bring the latest trends to JCPenney customers. Geoffrey is on the Parsons School of Design Board of Governors and is a frequent fashion critic for NBC Weekend Today. His fashion illustrations have appeared internationally, including in Italian VOGUE and British ELLE.