Achieving a casual, yet stylish appearance is hard to accomplish. It’s easier to look fab in dressier pieces with a “wow factor”. But looking good in casual settings is achievable if you’re mindful about the pieces that you select and how you put them together. Retaining a level of polish in casual attire goes a long way and getting that part right is just as important.

Like all dress codes, “casual” style is about following a formula. Here are the components:

  • Pants, skirts and walk shorts: Casual bottoms are great in denim, corduroy, cotton twill, cotton blends, micro- checks or linen. Stick to dark blue denim if you’re over the age of 35 and stay away from the dreaded capri look.
  • Tops: It’s essential that you wear the right casual top to ensure a high style quotient. Choose knitted tops, knitted tunics, knitwear and woven tops over T-shirts because they’re versatile and a lot more interesting. T-shirts don’t pop, whereas other casual top options do.
  • Jackets: Adding a denim friendly, lined or unlined jacket to a casual ensemble increases your style quotient. This can’t be done in hot weather but is a must when it’s chilly. Jackets in denim, corduroy, cotton twill, cotton blends, rayon blends, acetate, polyester bends and linen are good choices.
  • Cardigans: They’re the perfect light weight cover-up for dresses or sleeveless tops. Chunky knits are always casual but finer gauges will also work.
  • Coat: Tailored puffer jackets, parkas or casual trenches worn to the thigh or knee are super.
  • Dresses: Short jersey or cotton rich A-line day dresses are ideal.
  • Shoes: Flats are generally more casual than heels so non-athletic fashion sneakers, ballet flats, espadrilles, casual sandals, thong sandals, casual short or knee-high boots and low wedges are great. Low heels can be informal if the styling is casual.
  • Handbag: Sling bags are perfect, but totes, hobos, wicker or canvas bags are equally good options.

The casual dress code is often abused in the name of “comfort”. Items like sweat pants, hooded sweat tops, yoga-type pants, yoga tops, polar fleece tops, sporty windbreakers, basic T-shirts, lycra tank tops, athletic sneakers and any other type of clothing or shoe that is meant for sport or exercise does not make it into the casual wear category. This look is beyond casual wear. It’s what I call “gear” which is what you wear when you’re working out, engaging in a sport, or lounging at home. Do not wear these items in public as a form of casual wear. It’s poor style.

Favourite V-neck CardiganFine Summer TopFun Skirt

Casual outfit ideas from Boden.