Modern casual style emerged in America in the ‘20s, drawing inspiration from sportswear, and gained ground in the fashion world over the following decades, as both men and women started prioritizing comfort and functionality over formality and conformity when choosing their clothes.
These days, casual wear is the most popular dress style, adopted by people from all walks of life and in all parts of the world, and it’s easy to understand why. Casual outfits are more relaxed and comfortable, provide more freedom of movement and their versatility makes them perfect for a variety of occasions. On top of that, the clothes that fall into this category tend to be cheaper, so they put less strain on people’s budgets.
However, just because casual wear is extremely popular, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also easy to master. With so many clothing options out there and too little knowledge on how to choose and combine them, putting together a casual outfit often ends up in disaster. There’s a fine line between dressing casually and looking sloppy and most people cross this line unknowingly. Much too often, both men and women take the relaxation too far and turn their informal ensembles into something that should never be worn out in public.
So how can one adopt a casual style without looking like they’ve just thrown on the first clothes they could find in their wardrobe and walked onto the street without stopping to look in the mirror? Well, while casual wear doesn’t come with clear style rules as formal dressing does, there are some general guidelines you can follow to make sure you achieve a neat casual look and look put together no matter the occasion.
Start with the basics
Casual wear encompasses a wide range of clothing styles, but fortunately, you don’t need to include them all in your wardrobe to avoid the all too common I-have-nothing-to-wear dilemma. Buying more stuff isn’t going to help unless you know what clothes you actually need. If you want to create great casual outfits that make you look and feel good, you should make sure you have the right clothes to work with. This means you have to invest in a few key pieces that will form the foundation of your casual wardrobe and that you can use time and time again to create a variety of combinations.
So, what are the wardrobe essentials that you should focus on? Trousers and casual jeans are a good starting point as they represent the core of casual outfits. From mom jeans and flared to bootcut or cropped, there’s a variety of styles you can choose from, but you should focus less on fleeting trends and more on what suits your personal style and body type. Next, come the basic tees and shirts that can be worn in a multitude of combinations. Blazers are also a must-have for both men and women. As for footwear, a solid pair of loafers and some classic sneakers should do the trick.
Choose clothes that fit well
The fit matters just as much as the quality and style of the pieces you wear. If your clothes don’t fit right, it doesn’t matter how expensive they are or how great they look on the hanger because they will ruin your whole appearance. Unfortunately, when people try to create casual ensembles, they end up buying clothes that are much too large for their frame.
Although casual outfits are all about comfort and relaxation, they don’t have to be baggy, so larger doesn’t always mean better, unless you want to rock the oversized style, but that’s a different discussion. In general, buying clothes in a bigger size will make you look sloppy and unkempt. You should know your key measurements so you can pick the right size, especially if you’re shopping online, and avoid this common mistake.
Consider the context
There’s a time and place for every outfit, so while causal garments can be worn in all sorts of everyday settings and there is no strict dress code to follow, you still need to consider the occasion before deciding what to put on. You wouldn’t wear sneakers and jeans at a wedding celebration – unless you want to steal the spotlight from the bride and groom – just as you wouldn’t wear bamboo pajamas for anything other than a slumber party.
For example, sportswear can be considered casual, but that doesn’t mean you should wear your hiking boots to the office. Similarly, yoga pants are not the right choice for get-togethers with friends, although they are extremely comfortable. In this case, you should put in a bit of effort to dress up and look presentable. When in doubt, you should try combining some basic casual pieces like the ones we’ve mentioned previously, to eliminate the guesswork from the equation.
Learn to layer
Layering can be fun and complicated at the same time as it involves combining multiple pieces in a way that allows you to create a coherent outfit. However, you can learn to layer clothes correctly if you follow a few simple rules. First, you have to make sure that each layer can be worn on its own. Then you should consider the order, starting with the thin layers first and ending with the thicker ones. Also, you need to choose a start colour as a base and make sure the rest of the colours you wear work well with it.
It’s usually best to avoid combining multiple patterns as this can be hard on the eyes. Lastly, don’t forget to add some accessories to your outfit. Dressing casually doesn’t mean you should eliminate accessories, but it’s best to keep it minimal. A pair of shades or a belt can tie an ensemble together and add some interest to your look.
Dressing casually is often more complicated than it seems, and you can easily end up looking sloppy. Fortunately, you can avoid this all-too-common mistake by following some basic style principles that will help you sharpen your casual looks.