It’s easy to go glam, but mastering the casual yet stylish look is an art. Believe it or not, it is possible to be polished and relaxed at the same time. Here’s our guide to dressing down but looking fabulous.
Look effortless all day, every day
When you’re dressing casually, the aim is to pair a few simple wardrobe essentials with on-trend accessories. Avoid fussy, wrinkly or uncomfortable pieces; instead, let the words “ease” and “effortless” drive your dressing. If you feel like you could wear the outfit all day (and possibly all night) long and score style points at the same time, you’re on target. Here are the five pieces you need to master casual chic.
Well-cut blazers are the best thing since sliced bread. They polish and pull together an outfit instantly and, for that, they deserve to be on high rotation in your wardrobe. Start by investing in a good-quality black, cream and navy blazer, and get into the habit of throwing them over a casual jeans-and-tee combo. You’ll soon be wondering what on earth you wore before. (Shopbop, $212)
Forget strappy sandals, Converse or flip-flops — the sure-fire way to conquer casual chic is to invest in an amazing pair (or five) of ballet flats. Not only are they comfortable and practical (perfect for long shopping days — especially if you’re buying shoes!), but they’re also classically elegant. They’ll never go out of style. Opt for a black pair and a tan pair to ensure you’ll always have flats to match your outfit. (The Iconic, $40)
Denim jeans are the most versatile item of clothing. They suit everyone and work with everything. If you’re lucky enough to work in a creative office environment, they can take you from brunch to the boardroom. The casual chic uniform is built around jeans — from there, you can dress them up with a blazer and scarf, or dress them down with a simple grey T-shirt and flats. To make sure you’ve got all casual scenarios covered, buy a pair in dark blue, light wash (or grey), and black. If you can find jeans that work well with both heels and flats, that’s a bonus. (Shopbop, $214)
If you Google “casual style”, you’ll come across pages and pages of celebrities and style mavens sporting colourful scarves. The oversized, printed scarf is a casual essential. It’s easy to see why: Effortless casual focuses on basic, usually tonal pieces (like white T-shirts and dark jeans), so scarves add a burst of colour and interest. They also dress up an “errand ensemble” and block the chill in the cooler months. (Shopbop, $61)
The final touches
Finally, finish off your look with two flourishes: beautiful sunglasses — black or tortoiseshell frames or aviators are great choices (Sunday Somewhere, $265) — and a statement bag (Net-a-porter.com, £775).
Check out our guide to school-run style >>
What to wear — and where
Want to look casual cool but don’t know if you’re doing it right? Meranda Herft from Style Mistress says it’s easier than you think: That effortless look comes down to accessories and clean lines. We asked her about what to wear in five situations that call for dressed-down style.
Weekends and airports
“A beautiful scarf wrapped loosely around your neck will instantly dress an otherwise comfy outfit up.”
“A statement necklace and an LBD — a la Blake Lively — is both classic and chic.”
“Keep it comfortable by pairing boyfriend jeans (I love J Brand) with a cotton shirt and designer bag. Kourtney Kardashian nails this look.”
“Spice up denim with a well-cut blazer and an elegant silk shirt. When 5 p.m. rolls around, throw on a chunky necklace or statement earrings to carry your look from day to evening.”