Life isn’t all work and parties. In fact, most of the time, casual attire is more appropriate (and more comfortable) for everyday activities.
Many women associate casual and comfortable with “frumpy” or “disheveled”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Casual clothing can look great and showcase your unique style.
Identify Your Style
Before you go shopping and put together outfits, you must identify and describe your personal style.
Style transcends basic descriptions, such as “conservative”, “bohemian”, “punk”, “colorful”, “modern”, “quirky”, “goth”, or “preppy”. These descriptions tend to be too strong for casual clothing. While some people choose to make a statement every day (like me currently in my Girl Power tee), it can transform the casual style from effortless to forced and not very casual. Keep strong characteristics to the background, such as the jewelry and accessories, instead of the foreground.
What’s a better way to describe your style? Pay attention to clothing you like in old pictures of yourself, on friends and colleagues, and in the media. Gather a folder of pictures filled with clothing you gravitate toward. Do you notice trends in colors or clothing items?
When looking at clothing, it’s important to consider your body type. You may love the ethereal and sunny look of long, maxi dresses. However, if you fall short of 5’0″, a maxi dress won’t look the same on you.
Once you discover what you like and adjust your preferences to look good on your body, you will want something small to stand out from the others. Perhaps you constantly wear a large bow in your hair, neon accessories, combat boots, strong lipstick, inside out clothing, or scrunchies as bracelets. Whatever your thing is, experiment with small details that only apply to you to help you set yourself apart and look at style independently.
Don’t think you have to be married to any style or trend. We all grow and mature, our style included.
Buy the Basics
You need a large number of basics to act as a base for your more daring clothing items and accessories. Your basics are meant to stay muted so that other clothing items can shine. We suggest picking unassuming bottoms, tops, shoes, and outerwear that look great as it but also work as building blocks for a greater style moment. Not only that, but if missing any of these items, you’ll find yourself scrambling to put together an outfit in the morning. Having a reliable set of basics makes it easy to mix and match in the morning without taking any unnecessary fashion risks.
Leggings became a godsend to me after I had my children to the point I wondered what took me so long to enjoy them.
Leggings stretch to your body easier than standard pants thanks to the gathered waist and stretchy material, making them useful when you feel bloated or want to hide your winter weight.
Get thick, long leggings to wear with boots and a sweater in the winter. You can also get thin, 3/4 length leggings for the spring and summer. When wearing leggings in the summer, be careful that they don’t show anything underneath.
We suggest at least one set of winter leggings and summer leggings in solid colors to cover your bases (we suggest a pack of black, gray, and blue). Once you have your bases covered, you can move on to leggings with bright colors and patterns.
All women need a pair of basic full-length jeans. Jeans match almost anything and are appropriate for most casual occasions.
Your main decision will be the cut of jean you select:
- Loose Fit
When it comes to jeans, the correct size is everything. Try jeans on before purchasing them. When the jeans appear too loose or too tight, retire them and get a pair that fit.
You may also want to get a pair of everyday jean shorts for the spring and summer. Don’t let them ride too high, or you may feel embarrassed in certain situations.
Solid Tees and Tanks
Gather long-sleeve tee shirts, short-sleeved tee shirts, and tanks in solid colors. While you definitely want white and black, additional colors are completely up to you. Ensure your shirts don’t show your bra, as you want to be able to wear the shirts alone when the outfit calls for it.
When you have fun jeans or skirts that demand attention, these shirts will pair effortlessly. For example, I have preppy pink, blue, gray, and black plaid shorts that I pair with solid tees. I use the same tees to pair with my punk rock black and pink jeans.
Guys love the look of dresses, but, secretly, we love them, too, thanks to how easy they are to wear (as long as they aren’t too snug).
Find a casual tee shirt dress or bohemian dress that doesn’t appear too formal or dressy and pair it with your favorite shoes for a quick and put-together look in minutes. Plus, you don’t have to wear pants.
Feel free to incorporate East Asian fashion into your own style, even as a basic. Wear traditional clothing proudly. Small tweaks can help bring traditional garb into the modern era, too.
All women need comfortable and casual flats to wear for all-day errands. Keep in mind that flats are not necessarily athletic shoes or tennis shoes, although most of them resemble a lighter sneaker. Your flats won’t have the same padding or look as athletic shoes, making them more appropriate for the workplace or coffee dates.
Pick a solid color that matches a majority of the items in your closet. If you find a pair of shoes you really like, you can always get them in a couple of different colors to broaden your color palette possibilities.
All women need casual boots. Not knee high boots with a 6 inch pump or high heeled booties but basic riding boots, combat boots, or rain boots. The boots protect you from weather outside, serving a practical purpose, while also adding an edge to any outfit.
Have you ever had the perfect outfit but didn’t have a jacket to wear over it? Instead of going cold, give yourself a couple of options to suit any situation.
Some common basics for jackets and sweaters include:
- Button-Up Cardigan
- Pull Over Sweater
- Athletic Hoodie
- Jean Jacket
- Leather Jacket
- Winter Jacket
Sometimes, women forget underwear when shopping for casual clothing. Luckily, casual clothing generally permits most underwear. However, you should be mindful of panty lines showing through your leggings or tank tops that may require a strapless bra.
Don’t forget socks! Get short and long socks of various colors to accommodate all shoes and hem lengths.
Creating Casual Ensembles
While drinking your coffee in the morning, use these tips to create your casual attire.
Start With a Clean Slate
Literally. Shower and brush your hair and teeth. It doesn’t matter what you wear if people imagine cartoon stink lines emitting from you when you walk down the street.
This step is mandatory, especially if you want to dress to impress family or friends you will see later in the day.
Pick Appropriate Clothing
It only takes two minutes to consider what is on your schedule and the weather outside. Consider how you will feel throughout the day wearing your outfit of choice. Casual clothing doesn’t appear casual when you are cold, wet, or otherwise uncomfortable. For example, don’t wear sandals on a chilly, rainy day. Wear jeans and boots instead.
Start With a Statement Piece then Work Around It
You have basics for a reason – so you can wear your fun clothes.
Pick a unique top or bottom that speaks to you and create your outfit around that one piece by adding some of your basic pieces to compliment it.
The outfit just begins after you finalize the bottoms and tops. Now, you get to really express yourself through accessories. Jewelry, belts, bags, and, of course, shoes enhance your outfit by tweaking it to show your unique style. Someone may have the same pair of jeans, but they probably aren’t pairing it with the same accessories. This is your chance to play with fashion as a beginner. The best part? You can remove most accessories if you decide it didn’t work as you pictured it in your head.
To showcase your status as a fashionista while in casual mode, make a bold statement with less common casual attire, such as overalls or bike shorts, and make them your own.
To look nice but casual, wear properly fitted jeans and a tee shirt but emphasize the accessories.
For something trendy, try a tee shirt dress and cowboy boots or flats.