How To: Keep Casual Chic

Sometimes I think formal is easier to figure out than casual wear. With formal, you know it’s a dress or a suit and you need to fancy it up with jewelry and heels. Case closed. With casual, there are a wide range of interpretations, which is why I think so many women fall into the habit of wearing a “uniform.” In this instance, a uniform is that comfort zone of familiar clothing you wear over and over again. Maybe the colors are different, but the shapes and fabrics tend to be the same. Ask any of my friends what my casual weekend wear looks like and invariably they will say that I prefer a “sporty” look, i.e. I’ll be sporting some Lululemon.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wearing your uniform because if you are wearing it again and again, then it makes you feel good and that is the whole point. So don’t banish that uniform just yet (trust me, no one is coming between me and my Lululemon). But remember that casual doesn’t have to mean your favorite college sweatshirt with jeans. Casual can be chic, too. So if you are looking to shake up your casual look and get more out of your closet, here are some ideas on charging up the glam factor.

Bottoms Up. Casual most often means throwing on those favorite jeans, khakis or exercise pants, but by wearing a different shape pant, you can really pump up the chic factor.

  • What’s the Skinny? I love a more tapered pant – with its clean lines, it makes the outfit look more rich. My favorites out right now are the Banana Republic Martin Skinny Pant for full length versions, the J. Crew Minnie Pant for ankle length, and the J. Crew Skimmer pant for a cropped version. Think lighter, softer colors for the summer. I have a great pair of dusty rose Old Navy skimmers that I pull out every summer and wear with a black sleeveless turtleneck – always classic.
  • Get a Leg Up. Leggings are also great and exceedingly comfortable. Because leggings can go the exercise-look route pretty quickly, make sure that you pair your leggings with a more tailored look up top. Leave your running jacket at home and instead pair with a long striped tank and a woman’s cut jean jacket. Be careful of pairing something tight over your leggings – it will give the impression that you are bigger than you are. Stick with longer shirts, tees with some flounce or boyfriend cardigans and add a flowing scarf.

Trade Up on Top. Going casual doesn’t just mean your favorite well-worn tee or hoodie. There are a ton of options that are just as easy to put on. Here are two of my faves.

  • Work it on the Weekends. Allow your workwear to have some fun on the weekends too! Untuck that crisp white shirt and pair over casual cotton pants. Pick a shirt with some interesting detailing, like a bit of ruffle or colored stitching, to make your white shirt the centerpiece, instead of always playing the supporting role. Or grab the jacket from your favorite suit, and rock over jeans. I have a great short-sleeved navy blazer that I’ve only worn to work, but have now decided to dig out one weekend and pair with my charcoal ruffle tank and white pants.
  • In the Trenches. No one says that coat has to come off, so give your favorite trench a starring role a cooler day. I love a trench coat over slim jeans or contrasting cropped pants with strappy sandals.  And look for one in a fun color – my faves are hot pink in a classic shape and charcoal gray with a bit more pleating.

With all the Trimmings. One of my favorite ways to play up an outfit is to accessorize, from shoes to bags to jewelry and more. Here are some thoughts on inserting some chic through outfit ornaments:

  • Mix and match fine jewelry with costume pieces, layered at the neck or woven into the bun atop your head.
  • Wear your work heels with a casual, flirty skirt or rolled up boyfriend jeans.
  • Carry a night clutch during the day, and leave that big bag at home.
  • Add some sparkle through a sequined or studded headband.
  • Wrap a bold belt around your waist, over a tee, cardigan, jacket, anything!
  • Go oversized sunglasses, sliding into your hair when out of the sun.
  • Try a fedora topper – go straw for the summer.
  • Experiment with scarves (Learn how here).

So what are you waiting for? Don’t save those favorite pieces, like your china, for a special occasion. Pull them out, pile them on and give that uniform a rest for a few days.

What’s your favorite casual outfit? Give us the full detail!


April 11, 2010. How To.


  1. Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny replied:

    Hello SITStah,
    Are leggings really back? The 80’s were such fun – leggings and baggy sweaters. Leggings and great looking jackets. I love leggings!

    • put2gether replied:

      Thanks Cheryl! I know – leggings are back. and this time, as denim! Who knew?! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Housewife Bliss replied:

    Thank you for joining the blog frog, I am so glad you did — what a great blog you have! I am a casual girl with a bit of glam injected. As I type this I am wearing stirrup leggings in a metallic steel colour, gabardine tulip skit, rosey pink cotton t-shirt with a dark rose coloured jacket. I love your ideas on going casual, so many of them I follow but there are some great new ones in there as well. I am loving all the new shades for spring ….all I need is the weather.

    • put2gether replied:

      Thanks so much Mrs. Bliss for your kind words! i’m enjoying your blog too!

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