Figuring out my casual wardrobe

Casual Emma Stone
As you may already know, the oh-so-lovely Gertie is preparing another vintage sewing book, this time focusing on casual garb. It should be out for 2014, but darn it, I can't wait that long! When I first heard the news, I was extatic because I seriously need more casual clothing in my wardrobe. My spring closet purge made me realize that 75% of the clothes I own are work attire or too-chic for everyday wear. So all summer long, I wore the same thing every week, which was getting boring. Recently, I have tried to make more casual clothing, but I inevitably end up with stuff that is fancier than I had hoped for. Case in point? My first Cambie attempt, which works for a tea party, but not everyday wear.

Anyway, this had me thinking about what defines casual clothing. Is it...

A) the shape?
B) the colour?
C) the fabric?
D) the styling?
E) A mish-mash of everything above?

Ginnifer Goodwin looking cool
According to good old Wikipedia, "in the European tradition, casual is the dress code that emphasizes comfort and personal expression over presentation and uniformity", meaning you can eschew your work "uniform" for something more laid-back. This also means that, like most things in fashion, casual wear is relative. For example, someone used to wearing three-piece suits every day might find a pair of trousers and a simple blouse to be more casual (it's actually called buisiness casual), but for another person who wears the blouse-trouser combo to work, this would be a far cry from it.

After taking a long hard look at my work closet, I found out that my work "uniform" consists mainly of tailored sheath dresses, cardigans, silky blouses and black everything. It's all fine for teaching, but not for lounging around. Using this as my starting point, I tried to get a clear list of things I want and don't want my casual wardrobe to be.

Jessica Alba in leather

Too-structured or too-fitted dresses, pants or tops that require girdles or shapewear are not on my casual list. The aim of casual clothing is comfort, after all! Anything that needs a lot of ironing is also out. Sweats and yoga pants are not my forte, neither are shapeless t-shirts and knits. Evidently, suiting fabric is a no-go for casual attire, as are really fancy materials like taffeta, silk charmeuse and other shiny fabrics. Neutral basic colors like charcoal, grey and black seem more at home in an office than at a picnic, so they are probably out too.

My ultimate goal? To look cool and pulled together in an effortless way, like Anne Hathaway, Drew Barrymore or Ginnifer Goodwin. I would love something simple I can just put on and not fuss about. Nothing too clingy, thought (remember the no-girdle rule?) Knits, wool, cotton and denim are all good! As for colors, deeply saturated gem ones like garnet, emerald, cobalt and sapphire are linked (in my mind) to fancier dressing, but I would'nt disregard them for casual clothing all together. Lighter, cheerier colors seem more casual to me, as do prints.

Things to seek

Looking at my Pinterest board, it's clear that I should find or make more of these:
  • The perfect knit dress pattern: versatile, flowy, with three-quarter length sleeves. I like the Lady Skater pattern: it looks like a contender for a bonafide TNT, so I'll consider buying it.
  • A simple shirtdress pattern: Roisin recently made a stunning version of Paul and Alice's new Cami pattern that has me swooning. On my to-buy list!
  • Knit tops: fitted, but not too snug, with longish sleeves.
  • Fitted t-shirts: cute, not boring and slightly fitted.

I could just steal Lauren's Lady Skater dress!
Roisin's cute Cami dress

I don't want to feel all dressed-up, but I don't want to look sloppy and drab either. Trailing that fine line between comfort and style shouldn't be that tricky... right? Well, this will be a work in progress, so we'll see. How about you? What are your go-to items when lounging around?


  1. I'm a teenager and have to wear a uniform at school so most things feel casual to me! I think a lot of dressing casual is how you feel. If you feel like an outfit isn't too fancy then you won't appear to fancy. Another thing to consider how easy it is to match things. A leather jacket may be casual as it can be worn with everything and you don't go buying things to wear with the jacket like you would a satin dress.

    1. I totally agree: it's all about how you feel in your clothes! I think it is also about pairing things together, like you put it. What I don't want to do is go nuts and buy lots of stuff! I'd rather figure-out new style combinations using what I already own or make new stuff instead of buying.