There is so much conflict in the pages of Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire regarding "rules", I wonder why I remain addicted to fashion magazines. I read, on a regular basis, that "there are no rules in fashion", only to peruse the hundreds of pages in Vogue dictating the season's colors, designs and styles in everything from jewelry to designer shoes that cost $1,200 and up a pair.
Men have always relied on a standard of dress that includes slacks, dress shirt, and depending on the workplace, tie or not, and jacket or not. The preference for comfort in the workplace allows for sweaters with slacks, and casual Fridays, but predominantly a man's wardrobe consists of a variety of shirts and slacks.
Women, on the other hand, have a broader range of acceptable work attire, from pantsuits, slacks with a blouse, skirt with a blouse, dresses, and the option of wearing a jacket with each ensemble. Colors, patterns, length, cut, drape, necklines, sleeveless or cap sleeves or long sleeves are subject to change with the seasons per couture designers. Some jewelry factors in the mix, too, for work as well as social occasions.
Women are accustomed to fashion critiques by other women in the workplace. It matters to women personally that they look there best and fit the bill for appropriate attire. Like it or not, admit it or not, at least in my former workplace, some of the women judged other women's appearances, deeming them too fat, or dressed inappropriate for their age or size, skirts were either too short for work, or too matronly.
The fashion industry helps to perpetuate fashion style with status in women. Women spend more time shopping for clothing and more money on their wardrobe than men.
I believe the major determining factor for the differences in fashion dictates between men and women boils down to what most things boil down to in matters of consumerism, that being money.