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Casual Chic - How to dress Casual Chic style

Updated on November 23, 2013

The casual chic look is a timeless and informal look, based around a winning combination of comfort, freedom of movement and style. Although it fits into the category of casualwear, it is not a sloppy style and requires some thought on how to put a chic outfit together. However, once you know how, it is easy, and consequently, many women of all ages and backgrounds, have adopted casual chic as their personal style.

Casual chic is not only a perfect look for week-ends and holidays, a smarter version is suitable for some work environments. The basic look only requires a few specific key pieces. In this article, I will show you how to dress in the casual chic style and cover the following topics:

  • The key wardrobe pieces that create the basic casual chic look
  • Which styles, colours, fabrics and patterns are casual chic.
  • Casual Chic style icons - examples of casual chic women of all ages.
  • Casual Chic accessories, hairstyles, make-up and grooming.
  • How to personalise the casual chic look and create your own look.

Casual Chic Style Colour Palette

The casual chic wardrobe is usually made up of clothes in neutral colours. The reason for this is that neutral colours are easy to mix and match together, maximising the versatility of your wardrobe and they look classy and chic together.

Examples of neutral colours include:

  • Black, White, Grey, Navy, Beige, Camel and Khaki.

Decide which neutrals look best on you and build your casual chic wardrobe around them.

Key Clothes - No. 1 - A pair of casual chic jeans

Jeans are the number one item in a casual chic wardrobe. If you want to adopt the casual chic style as your personal style, it is important that you start by buying a pair of jeans.

Shopping for jeans isn't easy, but here are some guidelines on what to look for.

Style - you are looking for a pair of jeans that is smart, chic and elegant in style.

  • Examples include skinny jeans, straight cut and boot cut.
  • Avoid jeans that are very flared and hippyish or a "boyfriend cut" style, which is a loose, baggy and masculine cut.

Fit - When trying on jeans, make sure that they fit you. The jeans should be neither too big or too small. You are looking for an elegant and comfortable fit. There should be no unsightly bulges. If there are, try the next size up, or go for a jean where the level of the waistband is higher.

Comfort - The jeans should be comfortable to wear, they shouldn't pinch because they are too tight or fall down slightly. If they fall down slightly, add a belt to hold them up.

Colour: Denim blue is the classic colour to choose for casual chic jeans, but other neutral colours can work just as well, such as black, grey, beige, navy, camel and khaki.

Suit your shape - they should suit your body shape.

Key Clothes No. 2 - T-shirts

T-shirts are the next most important key items in a casual chic wardrobe. They can either be short sleeved for summer or long sleeved for cooler months. Both are great worn on their own or as layering pieces under other tops.

To continue building your casual chic wardrobe, buy some t-shirts in good quality fabrics and the neutral colours such as black, white, cream, grey, navy, beige and khaki.

Pay attention to the neckline and choose a round neckline that is not too high, but not so low that it shows your cleavage. You are aiming for a chic and classy look.

If you want to add colour into your casual chic wardrobe a great way to do so is through the t-shirts as they are an inexpensive item to buy. Avoid loud and cheap colours such as bright pinks or fluorescent colours and instead choose more classy and subdued colours such as plum, deep red, teal or olive.

T-shirts wear out really quickly, so at the start of each season review them and replace any that are looking worn out.

Key Clothes - No. 3 - Layering Pieces

Once you have the first two essential pieces for a casual chic wardrobe, jeans and t-shirts, you can add the third category - layering pieces. They are useful for two reasons:

  1. They are practical - wearing layers can help to keep you warm.
  2. They add a layer of interest and style to your outfit.

Layering pieces can include cardigans, waistcoats, shirts, blouses and jackets. Again for versatility, keep them in neutral colours and plain rather than neutral fabrics.

Casual Chic Style - Fabrics

Casual Chic fabrics are natural rather than synthetic. They are comfortable, easy to wear and breathable, allowing the body to stay fresh rather than sweaty.

The fabrics that are most often used in casual chic style clothes are:

  • Jerseys (used in t-shirts and jersey dresses) Jersey is stretchy and allows the body a lot of movement.
  • Denim (used in jeans, skirts and jackets)
  • Cotton (a cool fabric, used in shirts, tops, casual chic dresses and trousers such as chinos)
  • Wool (a warm fabric, used in jumpers, jackets and coats. Can also be used in trousers and skirts).
  • Linen (a cool fabric which is popular in the summer and used for trousers, tops, shirts, jackets and dresses)
  • Silk

Casual Chic Style - Patterns

Not many patterns are used in the casual chic look. This helps to keep the look simple and classy. If you want to add pattern to your look here are some ideas:

Stripes - An easy way to add pattern. A navy and white striped t-shirt is a classic French Chic look that works well with the casual chic look.

A pattern in two neutral colours. This is another easy way to add pattern to your look. An example would be a black and white check or floral print.

Two-tone woven fabrics - some fabrics are woven with threads in two or more different colours. Examples include tweed, herringbone and tartan. Choose fabrics woven with neutral colours to keep the look classy.

Casual Chic Hairstyles, Make-up and Grooming

Grooming for the casual chic look is easy to achieve and requires only a small investment of time. However, it is important to keep on top of it otherwise you will soon look less than chic.

The aim is to look clean, tidy, natural, well groomed, feminine and chic.

Hairstyles - A casual chic hairstyle looks soft, natural and feminine. It isn't short and spiky or stiff with lacquer. Typical hairstyles include soft bobs, wavy shoulder length styles, chic ponytails and soft up-dos. Hair colour is natural rather than bleached or bright colours. It should be easy for you to style.

Make-up - the casual chic make-up look is a natural, barely there "no-make-up" look. The make-up is subtle and enhances your natural beauty. A light layer of foundation to even out your skin tone, a natural coloured lipstick or gloss for lips, a light swish of blusher to give a healthy glow to cheeks, brown mascara, a neutral coloured eye-liner and eye-shadows. The aim is to create a subtly natural yet groomed look.

Nails - Nails are neat and shaped into a soft feminine shape and coated with a clear or natural coloured polish.

Eyebrows - regularly groomed into a soft arch.

Casual Chic Style Shoes and Boots

Casual chic footwear is comfortable and easy to walk in. Styles are flat rather than high stilletoes. For the casual chic look, you won't need many pairs of shoes. The overall aim is to have a small collection of footwear that is comfortable, easy to walk in, simple and classy.

Casual chic shoe styles include the following:

  • Ballet flats - choose a simple pair in neutral colours black, navy, tan or brown. These can be worn with both jeans, casual chic trousers and skirts.
  • Ankle boots - in neutral colours, to wear with jeans and trousers.
  • Long leather boots - again in neutral colours. these can be worn with both skinny jeans and chic casual skirts.
  • Sandals - flat or low wedge heel

Here are a few guide lines when buying footwear for a casual chic wardrobe:

Quality - Buy the best quality footwear that you can afford. Because you will need less shoes, you may feel comfortable in buying shoes that are of better quality than you normally buy.

Simplicity - Choose very simple styles, they are versatile, non-memorable and not distracting. You want other people to notice you rather than your shoes.

Neutral Colours - Such as black, navy, tan and brown.

Fit - make sure the shoes fit you properly and are comfortable. You won't act or look very chic in shoes that are too big or too tight and small. you should be able to put a pair of shoes on and forget about them.

Fabric - a good quality leather or suede. Try to avoid plastic looking shoes as they can look really cheap, although you may occasionally find some good quality synthetic / mock leather shoes that are hard to tell the difference.

Feminine - choose shoes that have feminine styling, such as rounded fronts rather than very pointed fronts, feminine heels rather than chunky masculine heels, feminine buckles and clasps.

Keep your shoes in good condition by cleaning them regularly and taking them to be repaired when they need new heels or soles. Dirty and down at heel shoes aren't chic.

Casual Chic Accessories

Sunglasses – Sunglasses are the number one accessory to make you look chic! Choose a simple style in a neutral colour. it is important to choose a style that suits your face shape. Most casual chic style sunglasses are rounded in style, which is perfect if you have a soft feminine face, but if your features are very angular, you may look better in a more angular style.

Scarves - Scarves offer a simple and effective way to accessorise an outfit. They are cheap and come in a variety of colours, so you can afford to build up a small collection over time. It is best to choose plain colours to start with, either neutrals or basic colours, as they are more versatile, but a scarf in a simple pattern is an easy way to jazz up a simple jeans and t-shirt look.

Would like to learn some easy and chic ways to tie scarves? You may like to read these and watch the videos that show you how:

Chic handbags - For your first casual chic style handbag, choose a bag that is simple in style, suitable for the daytime, casual rather than formal, discreet rather than flashy and a neutral colour for greater versatility.

Casual Chic Icons

Many women of all ages have adopted the casual chic look a their own personal style. For inspiration I have included several well known casual chic style icons whose style you may like to copy and adapt:

Whilst each woman dresses in a casual chic way, they have interpreted casual chic in their own unique ways. Some are more minimalist or sporty, others more chic and luxe, some add a dash of eclectisism with a few interesting prints and accessories, and others choose a more masculine casual chic look, wearing mannish trousers and shirts.

Younger women:

Jennifer Aniston (minimalist and sporty/natural), Olivia Palermo (adds eclectic pieces to her basics), Nicky Hilton (a more fitted and luxe look) Reese Witherspoon and Penelope Cruz (both quite minimalist).

Older women:

Cameron Diaz (Jeans and a simple sportswear grey t-shirt), Diane Keaton (very minimalist style, polo necks, mens style shirts), Katherine Hepburn (Relaxed masculine style, slouchy mannish trousers and shirts) Audrey Hepburn (Chic capri pants and ballet pumps) Coco Chanel (French minimalist style, introduced breton stripe tops).

How to personalise the casual chic look

Many women are attracted to the casual chic look but don't want to look like a copy of everyone else. If you want to create your own individual look a good place to start is by looking at the style icons above and see if you like their version of casual chic.

Here is a guideline to some of the versions:

  • Minimalist - strictly sticks to simple garments in neutral colours, plain fabrics and no patterns. (Diane Keaton)
  • Sporty/Natural - likes a sporty take on the look, chooses plain t-shirts in grey-marl, has sporty accessories such as sporty style shoes (sneakers) or handbags (bowling bag). (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston)
  • Masculine - likes mannish style trousers, shirts, shoes and belts. (Katherine Hepburn)
  • Feminine - prefers softer cuts and styles, wears a pretty top with her jeans, adds pretty but chic colours through her accessories.
  • Luxe - Likes her basic items in luxe fabrics, such as a silk t-shirt rather than a cotton one, a cashmere layering cardigan, and accessories look more luxurious. (Nicky Hilton)
  • Eclectic - adds interest to her casual chic outfit through global accessories, such as a subtle tribal print blouse or silver ethnic bracelet. (Olivia Polermo).
  • Chic / French - Likes chic styles such as capri pants, breton stripes and ballet flats (Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn)

Once you have decided which version of casual chic you like, buy your basics in a style that reflects that look and then further personalise your look by choosing layering pieces and accessories that you love, are unique to you and that fit in with the version you have chosen.

I hope you found this article useful, you may also like to read:

Minimalist wardrobe for women - Learn the secrets of French style, how French women create a chic, stylish and minimalist wardrobe and how you can too.

How to be chic - 10 easy ways to be more chic

How to be well groomed (Basic)


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