When we feel like dressing casually but have to be out and about, what’s the solution? We aren’t about to tell anyone to make a trip to the drugstore in a ball gown, but just turning your simple, casual outfits into more polished, stylish looks doesn’t have to be a fairytale transformation.
Not only is dressing up a casual outfit a fun departure from the usual day-to-day, it’s a great way to feel more polished for an event, a date night, a work meeting, or just to feel great about yourself.
Finding this middle ground of dressed-up casual will forever be a recurring theme in fashion. With a couple of key pieces, we can transform our casual outfits into more dressed-up versions in no time. We’ll give you some recommendations and pointers to get you started.
Key Item Recommendations
You can add key items to your wardrobe that will be your best friends when you want to dress up casual outfits. These magical pieces instantly give your outfits that little something extra.
Shirts and Blouses
Some basic shirts and chic blouses are fundamental pieces in any wardrobe, but they can be especially useful when you want to dress up a casual outfit. Shirts and blouses are amazing layering pieces that you can wear with just about anything. There are many ways to use shirts and blouses to dress up any outfit effortlessly.
Three different ways to style shirts and blouses:
- Look 1: Wear a loose-fitting linen shirt with a pair of straight-leg jeans. Tuck one side in to give the shirt some movement. Add a sweatshirt over your shoulders when it’s cold out. This trick has the added style benefit of adding a preppy touch to your outfit. Finish the look off with your favorite loafers to dress yourself up even more.
- Look 2: Style a silk shirt with a midi skirt. Slightly tuck in the front of your shirt, leaving the rest untucked. Pair this look with your favorite combat boots. Add a crossbody bag to your outfit for an added casual touch.
Look 3: Another great way to wear a shirt is as an overshirt. Wear your favorite sundress and add an oversized, lightweight cotton shirt on top as a jacket. In this case, the shirt will make your dress more casual. Pair this with your favorite white leather (or fake leather) sneakers and a tote bag for an easy carry-all.
Blazers are an essential workwear item. But they can also be paired with casual pieces to dress up any look. They pair well with dresses, jeans, skirts, and trousers, so they’re a good item to have no matter what style you’re going for.
Three different ways to style a blazer:
- Look 1: Style a double-breasted blazer with some light wash straight-leg jeans. Pair a colorful sweatshirt with a simple top underneath. Pick a blazer with a subtle, check print and pair it with some simple sneakers and a small backpack.
- Look 2: Pair a midi-length t-shirt dress in a neutral color with an edgy leather blazer. Choose a blazer in a darker contrasting color to add a surprising element to a neutral palette. Style it with some cool sneakers and a crossbody bag.
Look 3: Wear an oversized black blazer with some tailored shorts. Pair it with a contrasting long sleeve t-shirt. Add some tights and combat boots for an edgier touch.
An easy way to dress up any casual outfit is by swapping in your jeans for a pair of wide-leg trousers. They’re a super versatile piece that you can dress up or down.
Three different ways to style wide-leg trousers:
- Look 1: Pair your wide-leg trousers with a well-fitted t-shirt. Take into account your outfit’s desired color palette. For a black pair of trousers, a white or light blue colored t-shirt looks stylish. Add a cool leather jacket over this look for an added casual edge. Don’t be afraid to wear this with your sneakers--the contrast in style between these and your chic outfit will complement each other well.
- Look 2: Style your wide-leg trousers with a loose-fitting tank top. If it’s chilly, wear a shirt over it and tuck in the ends crossed over. Wear it with some simple white sneakers and a canvas tote.
Look 3: Wear your wide-leg trousers with a knit sweater, slightly tucked in at the front. Layer a turtleneck underneath for an added layer of warmth. For shoes, go with a pair of sneakers to keep the casual feel of the outfit.
A quality double-breasted wool coat will dress up any outfit in cold weather. This item is another classic in the workwear wardrobe that can easily dress up a casual outfit and make it look more structured.
Three different ways to style a double-breasted coat:
- Look 1: To style a double-breasted coat, wear it over a sherpa half zip and a pair of straight-leg jeans. Wear it with some heeled ankle boots, and add a crossbody bag on top.
- Look 2: Wear your double-breasted coat layered over a jumpsuit. Pair this with some combat boots and a small crossbody bag. Add small hoop earrings to dress up your outfit even more. A color contrasting scarf can provide an additional textural element.
Look 3: Another way to wear your double-breasted coat is over a pair of black cropped fleece trousers. Wear it with a knit cardigan and a pair of sneakers. This makes for a comfortable casual look with an elevated touch.
Loafers have been the professional world’s favorite for years for a good reason. An incredibly polished shoe that will dress up your look, giving it a classic touch instantly. These are a great option if heels aren’t your preference.
Three different ways to style loafers:
- Look 1: Style your loafers with a pair of neutral joggers. Add a knit sweater and a leather jacket for a cool casual look with a polished touch. Carry a larger structured bag for another dressier element.
- Look 2: Wear your loafers with some paperbag-waist trousers and a good, well-made fitted muscle tank top. Add a cute silk scarf to your hair. Finish the look off with a practical cotton tote.
Look 3: Pair your loafers with a knee-length t-shirt dress. Wear it with a knit cardigan in a contrasting color and a crossbody bag. Finish off the look with a pair of statement earrings.
A pair of boots can always dress up a look. While different boots give outfits different feels, they’ll always smarten up an outfit and make it look more polished.
Three different ways to style boots:
- Look 1: Wear your knee-high boots by pairing them with a knee-length or mini skirt. Add a waffle-textured henley in a colorful shade and a leather overshirt on top. Add your backpack, and you’re ready to take on your tasks.
- Look 2: Style your classic ankle boots with a pair of straight-leg jeans. Wear a fun graphic t-shirt with a cozy sherpa jacket on top. Finish it off with a small purse and a colorful scarf.
Look 3: Wear a midi skirt with your pair of combat boots. Pair with a cropped t-shirt and a cute knit cardigan in a complementing color. A silk scarf in similar tones and a canvas tote completes the look.
Other Tips to Looking Stylish
Besides these key items, there are other tips you can follow to keep even your most casual outfit looking polished. Simplicity and coordination can go a long way when turning comfy, casual pieces into an elevated ensemble.
Focus on Easy Colour Palettes
Simple color palettes will make it easier to make your outfit instantly look and feel more put together. A tonal or monochromatic look in a neutral palette can be an easy way to make sure your casual outfit still looks stylish and a little more dressed up.
Give Flats a Go
Contrary to popular belief, heels aren’t your only option to dress up a casual outfit. There are plenty of flat shoes that can add an equally dressy touch to your look. Look for ballet flats, loafers and sandals that can complete your casual outfits with a touch of elegance.
Pick Statement Pieces
Centering your outfits on one stand-out piece is an easy way to guarantee you have an interesting outfit without it being over the top. It’s better to have one strong, statement piece than two competing pieces that are fighting each other for attention. Find cool, interesting pieces and build your outfits around them with simple, clean basics.
Keep Your Outfit Simple
Don’t go overboard on your outfit. In most cases, less is more. Picking up on the idea of the previous tip, keep your outfits simple. Don’t overdo it with multiple pieces. Keep the outfit streamlined and minimalist. Avoid combining pieces that clash with each other because of their different colours, textures or finishes.
Go for Structured Items
When in doubt, go for more structured items. These will automatically give you the dressed up look you’re looking for. Their architectural flair aids in giving the outfit a more elegant and streamlined look. Make sure to pair it with casual complementary pieces, letting it breathe and be the star of the show.
Style and Function
When shopping, look for pieces that are both stylish and comfortable. For example, dresses and jumpsuits are great pieces that meet both these criteria. They are stylish pieces that can easily be dressed up or down. They are an easy starting point for your outfit since you don’t have to think about two separates to go together. They look great with both casual shoes and a fancier pair as well, and the same goes for jackets.
Your accessories can also be a great way to add a dressier feel to an outfit. Look for jewelry with interesting details and an elevated look. Gold pieces are always a safe choice due to their versatility. Pick timeless styles that will last you longer. Another way your accessories can add to dressing up a casual outfit is with sparkling details. Look for pieces with small shiny stones, either in fun colors to introduce a contrasting element or in white for a more neutral piece.
Wear Your Clothes For Years to Come
Taking care of your clothing and making sure they look clean and fresh is halfway to looking more dressed up. Make sure you don’t have any stains, pilling or holes on your pieces. The better the condition they are in, the more put together you’ll be looking. Look after your shoes and clean them up before wearing them or once you get home.
Be Casual Without Sacrificing Style
While dressing casually is a practical and preferred style nowadays, dressing up is also fun to do from time to time. Finding the middle ground between your casual and dressier styles can be easy to achieve with the right guidelines.
Between your key pieces and our tips for keeping your casual outfits stylish, we are hopeful that you’ll be able to navigate this junction point with ease.
Remember that your key items will help you elevate your casual outfits. Implement them into your outfits to give them a dressier feel. From a simple shirt to a double-breasted coat, all the key items have a distinct effect on your outfits. Even a pair of combat boots can dress up a casual look when done right.
When getting started, you can also analyze what you consider a more dressed up look.
Couple your key items with our other tips to achieve amazing dressed up casual looks. Ultimately, when mixing different styles, you want to keep it simple and guarantee you’re focusing on one piece at a time. Highlighting simple colour palettes and statement pieces, remember to focus on one piece at a time.
Make sure to have great basics on hand, though. These will serve as a foundation for all this work and experimenting you’re about to set out on. They will be the primary building blocks on which you get to build upon with your key items.
With all these tools in your tool kit, your casual looks are sure to be looking stylish and polished. So are you giving this middle-ground dressing a try?