Stepping Up My Casual Look

My work look is fairly polished. I have a flexible uniform of knee length skirts, solid and subtle print tops, colorful scarves for accent, and shoes/boots with personality. Almost all pictures of me you see on this blog were taken on work days. There’s a reason for this . . .

My days-off looks could use a tweak. I often use the “what’s clean and comfortable” method, which translates to jeans and a tee of uncertain provenance. My thinking is flawed: “I’m only going to be seen by my beloved husband or a few dear friends. They love me no matter my look. Save the good stuff for work and special occasions.”

Well, there is the public, including possible co-workers, future employers, and ex-boyfriends with their wives. And there is myself! I sometimes shortchange myself by glossing over my casual looks. And it shows. But I am worth the few extra minutes it takes to look better-than-OK, without going full-press career-wear.

Here are some ideas I’ve come up with to elevate my days-off looks, and I’d love to hear yours, if this is an issue for you. Or maybe you dress well every day because you enjoy it, hooray for you!

  • Hair and nails. If I take just a couple of minutes to fuss with my unruly hair, use gel and a couple of clips, it looks much better all day. Good hair equals good look! Ditto my nails. Even with clear polish, they elevate my look when they’re neatly trimmed and oiled.
  • Face: healthy glow is the goal. All I need is mascara, moisturizer, blush or bronzer, and lipstick, with an emphasis on moisturizer.
  • Simple modern tops, or pretty floral ones don’t take any more time than standard tees. I am currently upgrading this corner of my closet.
Just as easy as a tee, but prettier. Gap.
  • No cheap crap. A mantra for every day of the week, actually. And it doesn’t refer to price. I mean cheap looking and feeling fabric, construction and color. Good construction doesn’t have to cost the moon. I have some terrific jeans from Sears that were under $25, and look like much more. Gap makes sturdy, good-looking tees for under $20.
  • Cool shoes. Not the same as work shoes, but flats and sandals that make me feel wow.
Cute, comfortable and better than my flip-flops. Earthies.
  • A piece of great jewelry. Again, doesn’t have to be the Hope diamond, but a favorite bangle or pendant shows care.

That’s my commitment: to look more polished most every day. There are days for window and car-washing, beach walking and marathon Netflix-ing, during which no gilding is needed. ☺

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  1. Yes, yes yes!! This really hit home for me last summer when I realized that my casual wardrobe was the same as my 10 and 12 YO sons. Now I favor those lovely knit tops instead of tees paired with capri pants or shorts with cute sandals or little sneakers (like Keds). Still able to keep up with the boys, but now I don't look like we shop in the same department!

  2. Great ideas Patti. I made the decision to keep a few pieces that I was going to downsize and use them for everyday wear. A few quilted Asian jackets make me feel good all day long, even if I stay at home.

  3. I live in a super casual area and I'm always overdressed – even if I'm just wearing jeans, top, and shoes! I think you hit on it when you said make sure your clothes aren't "cheap". I'd like to add make sure your clothes actually fit your body, ie, older and very plus sized ladies shouldn't wear cropped tees and low-rise pants. Also, make sure they're clean and not ripped! You'd be amazed by what I see!

    Spashionista (Alicia)

  4. All of this is so true and it never fails, whenever I just decide to 'run' to the store in my sweats I see all my fun neighbors and others and I wish I had taken the time to dress more appropriately. But how's this for getting my attention, just yesterday as I was in line at the grocery store a cute gal came up and asked me if I was the Trina from teatimewithtrina blog. So glad I wasn't running around in my casual cleaning sweats and no make-up. Good lesson for me. I'm on board to be more committed, thanks for the motivation.

  5. Like you, I'm starting to make some changes to my casual clothes. I tend to throw on sweat pants and old tees around the house (so I don't ruin other clothes – bleach is sneaky!) but to go to the store I try to add a little polish. I do a minimized make-up application, and might add scarves, but for me and my short hair, I really need to wear earrings to feel dressed.

  6. Casual has been a consistent challenge for me, too, but I've improved over the years. I think you're dead-on as to what it takes to elevate casual into polished casual. (And you are well-placed to do that, as Megan says, you're already very polished!)

  7. Absolutely all of this. It takes just as much time to put on a nice pair of jeans and a fancy Secret Pajama level blouse. If you make the effort on the front end of shopping for good looking comfortable casual clothes, you look put together without actually putting in effort. People tend to fuss at me for being 'so dressed up' because I pretty much don't own lazy clothes that look lazy anymore. I try to find interesting stuff to wear on my 'days off', that is still comfortable. It just takes awareness.

    Wishing you lots of luck. I know you're a well put together person, Patti. A little effort will make you feel better about yourself as well as present your good style too.

  8. I'm trying to update my 'weekend' wardrobe especially when I go shopping. It's hard though as I have this one fav pair of jeans that I don't want to part with – even though I should .. lol.


  9. I think the third bullet is key for me. I hardly let myself buy plain Ts because I used to wear them only. I try to buy comfy jersey or woven tops with some interesting elements instead (like the one you pictured).

  10. I did the same thing a couple of years ago when I realised I had an odd mindset that said something like 'it's not okay to spend money on casual clothing'. Actually, I enjoyed my weekends more when I felt confident and stylish and especially when I had nice casual clothes to wear to social events/out shopping etc.

    These days I live walking distance from the city so I dress up more in the weekend (but still there are clothes just for casual or just for going out socially. I like to make a distinction to remind myself that I'm not at work).

  11. Patti, I do the same thing. I hoard my faves in the closet. Sometimes to the point where I no longer feel the same attachment to them once I get around to wearing them. I too am taking a stand on this.

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