You know what? I'm just going to say it. I like the rules. I like following rules; they give structure and order and define us as a subculture. Now, I'm not saying that I don't occasionally wear a dress without a petticoat, or I never leave the house with bare legs or a bare head, but if I do, I'm much less likely to call my coordinate "lolita," because it just does not fit the rules of that fashion. It's like if a punk went out in a yellow polo shirt and jeans with his piercings and tattoos and dyed hair. Does it look bad? No, probably not. However, is it punk? Not by any stretch of the imagination.
And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with not fitting your little stereotyped mold perfectly, and I think that's something we should strive to do because it's our job to break stereotypes. However, if you do break stereotypes, know that it may not conform to that label anymore - and personally, I think that's awesome. Be a fashion pioneer! Wear whatever you feel like, but know that it might not be lolita. If you're breaking the rules, it probably isn't.
That's not to say that innovation is "against the rules." Take this outfit by Kelsey of I Do Declare:
It's beautiful. It's innovative. It's everything lolita should be this summer, in my opinion, and it still follows all the rules. See? The Rules shouldn't be viewed as something constricting or stifling of your sartorial creativity but rather as enhancing it, providing a framework that challenges your creativity to work within it. And again, there's nothing wrong with breaking the rules. Sometimes you can only make a coordinate work if you forgo socks, or if you wear a highly-styled wig instead of a hairpiece. However, it's important to know where that line is, when it can be crossed, and when it needs to stay a boundary.