Slideshow will continue in seconds. Click to skip
Myth #1: Wearing black and white polka dots means you'll look like a '50s pin-up girl.
To switch things up, try juxtaposing the retro pattern with slick modern pieces like a ankle strap D'Orsay pump and resin necklace. Color is really important, too: splashes of tangerine and ocean can skew even the sweetest black and white look in a sportier direction.
Myth #2: Florals are a prim and proper pattern
Only if you wear them in a prim and proper way! The fastest way to loosen the collar of any botanical print to mix in some leather, preferably black.  Then, toss on some playful accessories (layered chain necklaces, corded friendship bracelets, slouchy knapsacks are all good options) and head out to enjoy a non-black tie event!
Myth #3: Nautical stripes make every outfit preppier.
If natty loafers and cable knits sweaters just aren't your thing, not to worry: the Harvard co-ed effect can be diffused with black and metallic.
Myth #4: Animal print makes everything aggressively sexy.
If you look for muted shades of gray or tan, rather than black and brown, the pattern will seem more demure. Pastels, natural makeup and low-heeled pumps also make the look more sophisticated.
Myth #5: Gingham and denim are a country-only attire.
So long as you find separates a little more special than your average Levi's/gardening shirt combo—like this chiffon blouse and faded pencil skirt—the look will work for city situations. Another way to make the two pieces look a little less casual is to finish the outfit with polished accessories and a matte red lip.