Casual Comfort

Take time to build a casual wardrobe and you will always feel more put together and comfortable

Girl in casualsWhen it comes to dressing casual, do you find yourself opening your closet and letting out a small groan mumbling that you have nothing to wear? Take heart. It happens to the best of us, and help is at hand.

The world over, severely formal dressing is slowly but surely going out of trend, replaced by a kind of informal look and feel to even evening clothing.

Clothing that easily goes from day to evening is where it's at.

Dressing "casual" needn't mean dressing down or simply slipping into those jeans and tees. That's taking the easy way out.

While I wouldn't want to knock jeans and denim culture all together, I, for one, know there are days when the last thing I want to wear are jeans. Or, the casual comfort of a pair of leggings under a loose tunic or the femininity of a skirt paired with a favourite blouse.

Zip, zap, groom

Fashion is constantly evolving, zipping back and forth in time and space to bring forth a variety of clothing options each season. Building up a fresh new casual wardrobe means you have more alternatives to pick from each day, whether styling yourself for work, or after hours.

Casual wear spells everything from skirts and dresses to capris and leggings for the ladies. While for men it conjures up cargo shorts and three-fourths as well as chinos and drawstring pants.

Trendy buyers. Most people I come across fall into one of two shopping categories when it comes to casual clothing. The first are impulse buyers, who want the next thing in trend. While I have nothing against that, the shopper usually ends up buying a lot of "fashion," or trendy, pieces, which are then difficult to pair. By fashion pieces I mean, prints, embroideries and generally pieces that cannot be mixed and matched with more than a couple of other pieces in one's wardrobes.

What happens when a person with a closet full of trendy pieces tries to put together a look? Well, usually too much texture or pattern or colour [think corduroy jeans with a striped shirt!] in a single outfit, such that the eye [of the beholder] is bombarded with too much visual data and does not have anywhere to rest. And, that is not something you want.

Basic buyers. The other kind buys separates as well, but in the form of way too many "basics." Basics are clothing items minus the fuss of print and embroidery, in solid and muted or neutral colours like beige, black, white, grey, sand etc., And, what happens when they combine pieces? While the idea may be to keep it simple, or classic, or there might exist a fear of indulging in prints, embellishment or fickle fashion trends, most times the effect ends up looking more than a tad boring. Without any focal point of say, print, embroidery or eye-catching accessory, to punch up the look, the viewer's eye has nothing to take in, leaving you on the wrong side of lacklustre. You get the picture.

Mix and match. A healthy casual wear wardrobe requires a good mix of both fashion and basic types of clothing. By all means buy that printed dress, if you can pair it with leggings in a solid or muted colour. Similarly, combine that funky printed shirt with well worn cargos in a muted tone. Silhouettes include the generic shirts, t-shirts, blouses, tops, as well as the more updated tunics, kaftan silhouettes, cropped pants, and jackets.

Then you have the different types of casual. These are appropriate for different occasions and situations, and don't quite intermix.

Business casual

Business casual, or Friday dressing, as the term goes, involves dressing in business appropriate clothing which reflects a blend of one's own persona as well as the workplace aesthetic. For example, if you work in fashion, or the media, your business casual includes t-shirts, jeans, printed, boho skirts, and the like. While if you work in banking or finance, business casual would spell casual shirts [think colourful checks and stripes, short sleeves] with pants like cotton chinos or corduroys.

Sports casual

This includes clothing you would wear to the gym, golfing or running. Pieces like tracks, funky t-shirts, polos, shorts, tank tops and tights work here. Natural fabrics like cotton, held together with some spandex [stretch] are good for allowing your skin to breathe comfortably while allowing your body adequate ease of motion. Colours should follow your mood here. I find that on hot days I prefer to wear cooler colours to the swimming pool, and rainy days see me in warmer tones. So, follow your heart and dress to get the best out of your sporting activity of choice.

Here, I have to mention [listen up guys, this is for you] that while white socks are appropriate for wearing with sneakers, they are not at all appropriate for wearing with shoes and trousers of any other colour.

There is a big mistake that white socks constitute a part of formal/semi-formal wear, which is just not true. Socks should match one's shoes or trousers or blend with either one of those.

Day casual

Day casual is an area most of us are familiar with. These are typically clothes you would choose to sport to a lunch with friends, or hanging out over coffee with pals. Day casual should include clothing made from natural fibres, nothing too shiny or glossy. Leave the glimmer and shine for evening or for day-to-evening pieces.

Clothes should be easy on the body and not make you look like you're nearly asphyxiating behind your collar or necktie. Try to aim for a breezy, soft look, which typifies your lifestyle and taste.

Get imaginative and breathe new life and spirit into your day wardrobe. How creative you get is up to you.

All the best!

Business, Casual Tips

Here are some business casual and Friday wear tips for men and women.

Take a good look around you

What type of business or industry are you in: corporate, media, or creative environment? What do clients expect? What do movers and shakers dress like? Do you dress like the top 20 per cent of your peers [people at your job level] and industry?

Be consistent

Business casual wear should only be one step down from your standard business wear. Not suits one day, then jeans the next. Your Monday to Thursday look should not vary drastically on Friday.

Casual not sloppy

Clothes should be well pressed, clean and wrinkle-free. Repair or replace clothing that is showing signs of wear and tear. This advice becomes important when the more casual your dress is.

Jeans, watch out

If jeans are part of your business casual options, select dark over light colours, and ensure they are in good shape [Jeans wear is a major concern with employers].

Avoid anything too tight, too short, too bare

Make sure you're not guilty of breach, because this is the single most-talked about point with employers who hire us to come in and work.

For example, anything intended for the gym, the beach, or night club, is inappropriate for business.

Footwear

No flipflops, strappy sandals or bare legs with short skirts. The bare feet with loafers look works better in Hollywood!

White athletic shoes show wear and tear fast. Plus, they don't work well with dark pants.

Invest in alterations

Poor fit makes any clothing look sloppy. Just like standard business attire, casual business clothing should be altered to fit.

- Team CW

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