If you’re a human being you’re busy. It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, have children, don’t have kids, work, are a stay-at-home mom, or both. Everyone has a full plate despite how different that plate looks. Most people are also on the hunt to streamline, to be able to move through life as seamlessly as possible and to avoid getting caught up in the minor details of life.
Speaking about clothing in particular, because this is a blog about fashion and style, I came up with today’s post idea on casual style when a new client was telling me she was struggling with her ‘tweener style, ‘tweener meaning the part of her life that isn’t super casual or super dressy. In her case, it meant doing some business lunches (she’s self employed), engaging in fun casual activities and times where she isn’t at the park with her child or on the road doing speaking events that require a professional look.
When we spoke about addressing this missing area in her wardrobe, I mentioned how my goal with her would be to look at her clothing in three categories, the super casual, the in between (or ‘tweener) casual and then the professional part. My plan would be to help her build up her wardrobe so the largest part of what’s in her closet could float between all three categories of her life. From there the plan would be to have smaller parts of her wardrobe with obvious pieces that wouldn’t be as versatile. For example, her casual playground sandals wouldn’t be worn to a speaking event and her sleek suit wouldn’t be worn to the park. However, pieces like a great blazer, that could style with jeans for casual and then pair with a professional sheath dress for work would be one of these floater pieces that she could use in a more flexible manner.
With all this in mind, I decided to put some casual looks together to illustrate how subtle tweaks to an outfit can change where they can be worn. This casual style approach is particularly helpful for busy women for several reasons.
- You get more from your wardrobe with less. It’s much easier to navigate a closet when there is less in there that is more versatile.
- You save money. The more use you can get from the clothing in your closet the more money you will save by getting more value with less.
- You save time. Imagine you can go from one part of your day to the next without needing to change your outfit.
- You always have what you need on hand. Instead of having to buy more, what you need to wear is on hand is in your closet and, with just a few tweaks, your look can change.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
A Busy Woman’s Guide to Casual Style
Let’s say you’re a busy mom. On super casual days, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, sneakers or sandals and a tote will more than suffice. While this may work for the park, running errands, etc., for times where you need to jazz up your mom look a bit, instead of worrying about an outfit change, simply swap out your more casual accessorizing components for more elevated ones.
The base of the outfit above is a pair of boyfriend jeans from Lucky Brand and a Breton t-shirt from Boden. For the park, I styled this look with a pair of yellow Superga sneakers and a silver metallic tote from Nordstrom. To take this outfit to a slightly elevated mom look, I simply swapped out the sneakers for these orange flats from Charles David, layered a summer weight cardigan from J. Crew over the t-shirt and finished the look with a tassel pendant from Ann Taylor.. I didn’t even have to change out the bag because, really, how many moms have time for that?
When you work at home, like I have for nearly 14 years, I can’t stress the importance of getting out of your pajamas everyday. Sure, if you telecommute once a week or month, perhaps that is a different story. But everyday? I’d be beyond depressed if on all the days that I didn’t see clients I didn’t get out of lounge wear. However, working from home does not require fashionista level style. Today, I am wearing a sleeveless top, boyfriend jeans and my Birkenstock sandals. That’s about the extent of how dressed up I will get.
In the outfit above, I took this base outfit of a pair of grey jeans. and a basic pullover great sweater from Madewell. from working from home to a casual coffee meet up. The work from home look is styled with a pair of Old Navy flip flops in grey. and, for fun, this coffee cup, and for going out, all I had to do was layer this scarf from Hinge over the sweater, add these drop earrings from Stella & Dot, cuff from Tory Burch, Vince Camuto handbag and teal sandals from Blowfish.
What makes dresses so great for casual style is how they can easily be dressed up and down. They really are great ‘tweener pieces that, with just the right accessorizing components, can go a lot of different places and still be incredibly appropriate.
Using this little denim dress above, on the left, I styled it for more mundane things, like running errands by pairing it with a casual pair sandals from Born, a chronograph watch from Michael Kors, navy and gold hoop earrings from Julie Vos, sunglasses from Ray Ban and nylon bag in bright red from Baggu. On the right, this same dress can be worn for lunch plans simply by elevating the accessories, like I did using these tan Hinge block heel sandals, printed scarf from Prana, beige bag from Banana Republic and statement coral shaped earrings in gold from Modcloth.
It’s important to remember that transitioning an outfit doesn’t just mean that you can transition it throughout the day as your plans change. It also means to be able to utilize one piece and style different ways based on the need that day.
When I put these looks together I totally had my client in mind when she told me she was struggling for a look that she can wear for casual business meetings and networking. These outfit examples also show, again, that it’s not always about transiting an outfit from one part of your day to the next, but how you can wear virtually the same thing in two totally different parts of your life.
In the outfit above, the base of both looks is made up of these white cotton ankle pants and sleeveless blouse from Vince Camuto. For a smart casual look, I added this basic navy blazer from J. Crew and accessorized the outfit using pieces I used previously, the Vince Camuto handbag, tan sandals from Hinge and navy and gold hoops from Julie Vos. I thought it was particularly important to illustrate how accessories can be just as versatile as the clothing in your closet by using the same ones several times.
In the look on the right, this base look goes in a totally different direction and can be worn to something like a summer party when styled with a denim jacket and some of the same accessories I used earlier, the teal Blowfish sandals, printed Prana scarf, metallic tote, Stella & Dot earrings and Michael Kors Chronograph watch.
In these two looks I am going to change up what I mean when I say casual style. I don’t just mean casual in the lazy day sense, I am referring to casual in a non-professional way that has nothing to do with work. I may be fudging what casual typically means, but I do it to illustrate some examples of times in your personal life where you may need to get dressed up. Let’s say for things like a luncheon or wedding.
Using this champagne colored dress from Reiss, by adding a white blazer from Ted Baker, the look is daytime appropriate without being too fancy or formal. To finish the look I added these floral strappy heels from Nordstrom, a soft blue suede clutch from Ivanka Trump and statement necklace from Natasha Couture. This outfit is also an example of how a work blazer can be utilized for non professional needs.
On the right, the same dress can easily go to a wedding with just a few accessories swaps. I added these metallic strappy heels from Badgley Mischka, a hammered silk wrap from Echo Design, a sparkle fringe necklace from Banana Republic, crystal stud earrings from Ann Taylor and snake embossed leather clutch from Lauren Merkin.
Before you go out and buy more clothes without any sort of a plan, look to see how you can build your casual style wardrobe by taking some of your favorite outfits and changing up the looks with just a few swaps of accessories and clothing pieces. You might be surprised to find you have more outfit options than you think while also giving you a more targeted shopping list for the next time you hit the stores.
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Very helpful. I’m trying out a capsule closet for several months (so far) and this I can use!
Excellent, Patricia! I have written lots of posts on capsule wardrobes so be sure to check back on some old stuff I have written! Best of luck!
This a brilliant post Bridgette! I’m going to play in my closet to see what I can some up with. Thank you!
I am so glad you found this helpful! It was a really fun post to put together!!
Enjoyed this post with so many helpful tips. In July 2013, you posted “The ultimate mix-and-match fashion guide” that was excellent for a work wardrobe. Would LOVE to see a similar post for the ultimate casual/smart casual wardrobe. Thanks so much this one!