If you’re anything like me then you find casual dressing harder than corporate or cocktail. I spend my weekends in over-sized jumpers, jeans or workout gear. Fine on the couch. Not so fine at the shops. I found the answer flipping through a tabloid magazine at the doctor’s office. The story was “Celebrities at Airports” and full of pictures of Jennifer Ansiton et al lugging suitcases through exotic ports. I realised that all the women featured were wearing a version of the same six pieces and looked pulled-together despite multi-hours in the air.
It is the ultimate casual uniform. Simple, classic, doesn’t wrinkle … here’s what you need.
Think of every chic woman you know and you’ll notice two things: 1) they don’t wear a lot of make-up and 2) they always wear sunglasses. Always. Black sunglasses are a casual wear must-have because they dress everything up. You need an over-sized, glossy, slick style that suits your face shape – no tortoise shell, no colours and then you need to wear them everywhere – even when it’s overcast.
Blazers pull all and any outfit together. Instantly. Even tracksuit pants (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it). The sharp lines that work so well at work can also take the scruffy out of casual. Every woman should own three blazers – basic black, neutral camel or cream, and navy blue. Invest in quality and cut and then put them on high rotation in your wardrobe. On the weekends, start thinking of them the same way you think about an overcoat: throw one over the top of whatever you’re wearing as you walk out the door. Just try it. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel running into your boss/ex/old school friend at the supermarket wearing a blazer over your yoga pants.
3. Ballet Flats.
It took me years to start wearing ballet flats and I regret the decades without them. Not only are they comfortable and practical but they’re perennially chic. They are the perfect in-between shoe – dressier than a sneaker but not in any way over-dressed. The trick with ballet flats is keeping them tonal. Dark denim with navy, grey or black. Cream with tan, camel etc. Not rocket science but a game changer.
4. Dress Jeans.
We all have a favourite pair of jeans and they usually have holes in the knee or run two sizes too big. These are fine for home but you need some dress jeans. Denim that looks as good as trousers. Add a blazer to dressy denim and a t-shirt and you can go anywhere and look appropriate. Opt for good quality denim in dark blue, classic pale wash or clean grey. Choose a style that can be worn with both flats and a heel. No cuff rolling please – the line on this type of jean should be absolutely classic.
If you haven’t hopped on this movement yet then I’m not sure where you’ve been? We can thank Nicole Richie and Kate Moss for taking the over-sized scarf to dizzy fashion heights and anointing them a casual essential. The style, size and colour is completely personal but the message is this: wear them all the time and with everything. Just like sunglasses, they will dress a weekend outfit up, make a t-shirt more interesting and, on a practical level, they’re snug and warm.
6. Statement Bag.
Think about a bag in the same way you think about sunglasses. This is the icing on a classic cake. The shape is less important than the quality and the size. On the weekend you don’t want little – go big or stay home. Colour looks great against neutrals and black but my favourite weekend look is cream against dark denim. It’s like wearing a white T-shirt – instant polish.