Dressing casually should never mean dressing carelessly; pulled together and polished can go hand in hand with comfort.
Dressing with elegance and finesse doesn't mean that you have to be uncomfortable, over-dressed, or formal. You can incorporate elegance into everyday-casual by going for well-fitting, quality clothes that are clean, wrinkle-free, in good condition, and thoughtfully pulled together with the right accessories.
These days we may not be getting gussied up to go out on the town, or to any big fancy parties like we used to, but we might join a few online soirees to celebrate with family and friends.
Likewise, we're still getting out the door to the grocery store, bank, and to attend to the other necessities of life, and even when working from home or attending Zoom meetings, it's nice to feel put together.
Casual can still mean chic and appropriate. Comfort can also equate smart, graceful, tasteful, discerning, sophisticated, dignified, and stylish.
Here are a few threads to live by when it comes to dressing with class and confidence.
Dress with dignity and respect for the occasion, location, and situation.
If you look in the mirror and find yourself wondering if you're dressed appropriately, compare the occasion to others. For example, visiting your grandmother, attending church, going for a job interview at a hip start-up in Silicon Valley, or attending a bridal or baby shower.
Ask yourself, "would I wear this there?"
If not, you might want to ditch the sneakers or leggings and up the ante slightly on your outfit.
Choose clothes that fit your body well.
Understanding, accepting, and loving your body will help you choose styles and cuts that fit you comfortably and look gorgeous.
A look as easy as jeans and a silk or linen blouse can be so chic if the fit is just right. Fill your closet with well-fitted items, or hire a good tailor, and automatically upgrade your casual clothes.
Invest in well-made and high-quality clothing.
Quality pieces will typically fit you and appear more tasteful than cheaply made clothing. They will also last a great deal longer.
An investment in a high-quality bag, dress, blazer, or pair of pants is one that can last a lifetime.
Don't have a hefty budget? A few key pieces can improve your wardrobe, and you don't have to break the bank by filling your closet.
One good jacket, the perfect pair of heels or boots, a jewelry statement piece; you get the idea. Just a few select items can up-level your wardrobe to polished chic. Then, as you can, add another great piece here and there.
Also, keep in mind that upscale consignment shops can be a great place to pick up a treasure trove of classic, high-quality, gently (or never!) used pieces for your closet.
Often filled with couture items that may still even bear the tags or that have been worn but once or twice, a shopping trip to an excellent second-hand clothing store can be a fashion bliss experience.
Look for timeless clothing that won't fall out of fashion.
An elegant wardrobe tends toward styles that last for generations. While you can still wear trendy, hot-off-the-pages-of-Vogue styles, be sure to have plenty of basics in your wardrobe as well.
Some great, classic styles include:
- Blazer style jackets (your favorite blazer has a life way beyond the board room)
- Dark jeans that do not have tears or fashionable deconstruction
- Statement jewelry pieces like a good watch or pair of diamond stud earrings
- One pair of basic black pumps and a pair of basic nude pumps
- A good quality, classic style handbag that goes well with anything
- A basic black slip dress or sheath that can be dressed up or down
- A good quality chambray blouse (chambray is like denim's more comfortable, yet classier cousin)
- Fitted t-shirts in your v-neck or round collar of choice that are a solid color or have a subtle print
- A pair of flats that can serve you for a casual look or a dressed-up look
Base your wardrobe on a selection of neutral colors that you can mix and match.
Neutrals are colors that go with just about anything and create a sense of casual elegance no matter what.
Neutral shades include black, grey, shades of white, brown, khaki, and navy blue. These colors can help your casual wardrobe appear polished and timeless.
To make sure your outfits are fab, not drab, focus on accent pieces.
I love bright, beautiful colors for accent pieces that can go with neutral colors.
With just a splash of color in the form of a great pair of heels, a statement piece of jewelry, a scarf, or a jacket, outerwear can be the perfect accent for a stunning outfit that remains laid-back and casual.
The right accessories can tie together any outfit.
A gorgeous pair of shoes can make or break an outfit; or, they completely change the statement it makes.
That goes for any accessory you can think of. Whether it's your jewelry, bag, scarf, or wrap, anything you add to your outfit can bring it together and make you look sophisticated, sharp, together, and elegant.
Mix dressy styles with casual elements to assemble a composed but laid-back look.
Straight, dark jeans paired with fabulous heels and a silk blouse can be a knock-out casual look that is refined yet sassy and classy. Remember, denim can be sophisticated enough for casual elegance — especially when put together with the right top or jacket and shoes.
A simple black slip dress or sheath paired with flat sandals, mules, or boots, and a jean jacket is a gorgeous outfit any time of year that is casual but still pulled together and elegant.
Go monochrome or grayscale.
For the perfect cute and casual look that requires minimal effort, wear the same color from head to toe. All-black is typically my go-to, but you can go for all white, grey, navy, or cream, depending on the season and the occasion.
While technically you can also go all yellow, red, pink, green, or purple, or any color you desire, be careful with brighter colors because the volume of it all might overwhelm your desire for sophistication, elegance, and a casual tone.
If you do go with more brilliant color, keep to simple and classic designs such as a sheath dress and heels.
Remember, less is always more when it comes to elegance.
Grayscale is gorgeous in shades of grey or black and white and always looks refined and finished.
Lift even the most laid-back look.
Athleisure (a.k.a. living in leggings) is the go-to for most of us in these extraordinary days of working from home- but that doesn't mean you can't look fabulous and be comfortable at the same time.
Combine fashion and function to create a chic but wearable look.
Here are a few tips:
- Go ahead and blend sporty pieces into your regular wardrobe for a balanced look.
- Get creative, especially with mixing and layering.
- Don't be afraid to mix denim and leather with sports fabrics.
- Your athleisure pieces should be in good condition; don't try to dress up a ratty, faded pair of yoga pants or an old hoodie.
- Don't overlook the addition of accessories and jewelry.
- Keep to your signature style and look; re-define it with maybe a pair of sneakers here or leggings there.
In these days of working from home and social distancing, we’ve all gotten, perhaps, a bit over-comfy … It’s amazing how just a swipe of lipstick, a dressier casual look, or a favorite accessory can give our mood and self-image an instant lift.
It’s the little things that go a very long way - dress to impress yourself. Your self-image, and your life, will get a tremendous boost.
Live Your Life With Style, Flare, and Elegance
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