Some may argue that the term “casual dress” is widely open to interpretation and in some ways they’re right. What’s considered casual and appropriate by today’s standards has evolved significantly from even a few decades ago, still, there are few fashion tips that transcend the ages when it comes to keeping things cool, casual and composed.
The Beauty of Jeans
The greatest casual-wear invention of all time is, by far, denim jeans. They’re sturdy, comfortable and, with the right choices, stylish. Many people today practically live in jeans, and they have rocketed from working-man pants to garments for almost any occasion.
A pair of great-looking jeans is the number one building block for creating stylish casual outfits. They’re easy to throw on, match a huge assortment of styles and stand up wonderfully against dirt or stress.
Jeans come in cuts to flatter any body shape. Boot-cut, straight leg, skinny, flared and wide legs are all equally acceptable. Pure denim, stretch blends, pre-washed and faded all work as well.
Avoid wearing jeans that are ripped or patched in delicate places. If the pants have tattered seams, torn pockets and ragged cuffs, they’re best left for wearing when you wash the dog. A little fashionable wear and tear still looks good, but there’s a big difference between worn and ragged.
The Right T-Shirt
T-shirts come in all colors and sizes, and they can be printed with anything from rock band logos to cute kittens. Depending on how you wear them, they can go from frumpy to fabulous. As a general rule, do not wear shirts that are faded, ripped or stained, or you’ll wind up in the frumpy category.
A nice T-shirt doesn’t have to have a picture or logo, and it can be short-sleeved or long-sleeved. It should fit correctly, without stretching the seams, and it shouldn’t bunch up at the armpit.
Fabulous T-shirts are ones that fit well, look sharp and have a finished feel. Women’s casual T’s are especially nice if they have a slightly detailed neckline or sleeve. Many T’s have extra feminine cuts, rich colors and classy styles.
A fantastic and extremely easy form of casual clothing for women is the basic slip dress. These simple dresses can be super short or floor length. Most often made of cotton or linen, they resist wear and tear. Slip dresses can be completely plain, or they can be adorned with ribbons, lace and other decoration.
Whether they are spaghetti strap or long-sleeved, slip dresses have cuts that accommodate any style or figure. The same rules apply to slip dresses and T-shirts. Slip dresses that are faded, ripped or stained are not stylish. They should fit properly and lie smoothly. For a truly stylish look, try adding a jacket, scarf, or jewelry with the dress.
Skirts, slacks, vests and sweaters can all look fantastic in a casual setting if they fit well and are in good condition. Bulky, oversized or long sweaters and other tops should be worn with a more tailored pant or skirt. For low-cut sweaters, a fitted shirt should be worn underneath. This balances out your appearance and stops you from looking like a blob of fabric.
Keep slouchy styles for garments that are specifically designed to look that way. There’s a distinct difference between sporting a slouchy style and looking like you’re drowning in your clothes.
Also avoid overlayering, it can make any chic outfit seem more like a thrift store grab bag. Layering should be done only when it appears tailored and sharp. A flattering long blouse with a short, fitted jacket looks cute. But a long T-shirt with an over-sized vest and shapeless cardigan doesn’t pull together well.
Shoes can tie a look together or smash it to pieces. Even the most stylish casual outfit can seem dumpy by adding an ugly or old pair of shoes. Your shoes may be the last thing a stranger notices about you, but they can leave a lasting impression.
Torn shoes, frayed laces and worn down flip-flops are never in fashion. Nice mules, clean sneakers and chic boots are usually a good choice. You can occasionally wear low heels with a casual outfit, depending on the circumstances and your personal style.
Sandals come in so many varieties that it should be easy to pick a pair that’s perfect for your wardrobe. Heeled or flat, slip-on or laced, almost any design can work. Keeping a classy, well-maintained pair of leather sandals in your closet gives you an easy shoe to dress up or down with most outfits.
Remember to check any straps on a sandal to see if they are fraying. Since most sandals display the foot area, it’s important to keep the material clean. Sweat and dirt that builds up around the foot pad over time is noticeable in sandals. Also make sure to keep your feet clean and presentable if you’re going to wear sandals.
Just because you’re dressing casual doesn’t mean the little extras should be ignored. A few pieces of appropriate jewelry can bring an outfit into focus. Just a simple pair of earrings can be the perfect touch for that quick, but fashionable, casual feel.
Belts, scarves, vests and even hats are all neat options that can be played with. Avoid overdoing the extras, though. Nine bracelets, six earrings, a belt, two scarves, a vest and a hat only look good together if you’re trying to be an ultra-hip punk or preparing for a 1980s themed costume party.