Wardrobe boot camp: how to do casual with style

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 29 Comments

Editor’s note: This is regular series in which we help Styling You readers solve a particular wardrobe or clothing crisis with a little advice and some shopping suggestions. If you think you’d like to be considered as part of a Wardrobe Boot Camp post, then please email me ([email protected]) with a couple of photos and a brief run down of what specific help you would like.

Rebecca is a former journalist-turned PR freelancer and student. When she needs to do corporate, she’s got it sorted but she’s looking for casual at-home wardrobe solutions that still have style.

Wardrobe boot camp: Rebecca

The plea

I’m a former newspaper journo now freelancing in PR so my work style is quite corporate. I do like Nolita, Rock and Republic and Guess but my fave would be Lorna Jane purely for comfort. I can be at my sons’ footy game then go to a cafe for lunch and not feel under dressed.

I am studying a post grad teaching degree so I want to find more smart casual clothes and find a way to be comfy and stylish on my days at home. I like colour so will often team a fuchsia or orange blouse with a charcoal suit.

I am wearing more flats these days because I get back pain but I do still wear heels to work. I love unique but classic stilettos but not always practical.

My usual comfy clothes would be Lorna Jane flash dance pants, a t-shirt and my Dianna Ferrari sneakers or a dress or denim shorts, tee and thongs.

The tips

1. Doing casual with style isn’t as easy as it looks. Looking effortless takes some effort, especially if you want to be comfortable as well. The key really is in layering, which is a whole lot easier in autumn-winter then in the middle of summer. Click here for some tips on layering.

2. In summer, opt for easy-wear/easy-care dresses. Yes, frocks. One frock, some cute sandals and you’re good to go. I’d add in a necklace as well because adding one accessory is always icing on your outfit cake.

3.  In autumn-winter, work your layered outfits around either leggings or jeans. The leggings with tunic tops/dresses; the jeans with tees/shirts.

4.  Remember that even adding just a jacket and a scarf to a tee and jeans outfit will give the whole outfit a lift and take it from at-home casual to stylish streetwear.

5.  Find comfortable ballet flats, loafers or boots that can be worn all day while you’re on the move. This can be a bit of a quest but worth persevering for the end result.

6.  Keep gym gear for exercise only. Much as you love your Lorna Janes, I do think that they are best left to the task for which they were designed. It’s still possible to be just as comfortable in leggings or jeans.

The shopping

How to style casual: jeans

1. Witchery tee $39.95 | 2. Mollini loafers $109.95 @ Style Tread | 3. Motto scarf $50 | 4. Country Road jeans $99 | 5. Seed jersey blazer $129.95


How to style casual: leggings (winter) 1. Bella Lido tunic $105 | 2. Sussan scarf $59.95 | 3. Metalicus ponte pant $149.95 | 4. Misano ballet flats 

Do you wear mostly casual clothes? What are your tips for Rebecca when it comes to being comfortable but still having style?

Comments 29

  1. Metalicus do great Ponte pants – they are the only ones I have that do not go baggy at the knee. They also do a very nice drapy ponte jacket.
    Nikki, I love your advice about dresses. I have just moved to Vanuatu from Melbourne for 12 months which has meant an entire new wardrobe that includes lots of dresses, necklaces and colourful scarves. I am loving not having to dress in winter layers at the moment but I am sure I will start to miss my boots and coat at some stage.

  2. Thanks for this post. I’ve been struggling with casual for a while, but am feeling that my casual wardrobe is almost sorted 🙂 I love tunics with leggings, definitely a go-to look for me on weekends, particularly at this time of year. And what a stunning tunic you’ve shown! I think these are great suggestions.
    Rebecca, if you’re a sneakers kind of girl, you might like to look at some of the lace up leather shoes that are around – casual, but funky and a bit dressed up. Good luck.

    1. Diet Schmiet, Claire from Bella Lido is really approachable and would be happy to let you know for sure. I haven’t tried that one on so can’t give you a gauge re sizing but pop her an email.

  3. Accessories are key. Scarves are awesome.

    I need to be smart (no blue denim jeans) but comfy as well, so these tips are useful.

    Tunic/leggings/boots/cardie/scarf – awesome.

    Cilla xx

  4. I’m a Metalicus junkie. Their stuff just fits beautifully and wears so well. They also have looser fits these days if you want a more relaxed look!

  5. Oooh, another style boot camp right up my alley! Since your ‘unlock your style’ boot camp at the beginning of the year, I found that I have 2 complete casual wardrobes – one for the tropics (shorts, skirts, lightweight tops and sandals) and one for our Brisbane/Melbourne visits (jeans, tops, scarves, jackets, boots). I am a recent convert to lightweight scarves and colourful jewelry to ‘ice’ my outfits – and I can’t tell you how much easier my life has been since I discovered them! I can throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and create several different looks with that base, just by choosing different jewelry.

    Totally agree about getting good flats – I have pairs of Diana Ferrari flats that I adore (in red, cream and black), but are on the verge of wearing out, so it must be time for another trip to Puckle Street to top up. Although those loafers are just adorable…

  6. Love these style boot camps…the jeans, T-shirt, blazer, scarf, ballet flats is my “uniform” I mix it up with white shirts, striped tops and bangles but it is such a good “smart casual” look.

    Off to get that witchery T-shirt…I don’t have a darker grey and I think it is a fabulous addition to my whites and blacks and light grey marle!!

  7. Love your tips. As a sahm I am mostly casual but like to look smart. I find a nice scarf or necklace adds a bit of oomph to jeans & a top. I definitely agree about the jacket too & am on the hunt for more to add to my wardrobe. Last year I discovered Ponte pants. So comfortable! Now to find some great tunics to layer over the top. I think that with boots or ballet flats is a smart look that is still very comfortable.

  8. I love the tips you have given Rebecca Nikki ,I mostly do casual style but I agree with you on the Lorna Jane pants ,I like to wear jeans and a top/knit/boots or loafers in winter and add a nice scarf from my many hundreds I own.The alternative outfit is the leggings tunic and loafers or boots which I have on today,nice ponte good quality leggings though no cheapie ones for me and cost per wear they are practically free! I have on a grey and black leopard print tunic from Sussans and a nice tassle necklace and black loafers,comfy but also chic and a Witchery fine merino cardi as it is freezing this morning and I can whip it off later and then put it back on when I get cold again.I also agree with the dresses for summer ,lazy easy and cool.
    Rebecca I would suggest Sussans or Katies for ponte leggings as they are comfy and they last well,some I have had for 2 seasons and they are still going strong.
    I am not very good at wearing track pants or yoga pants,I just don’t feel comfortable in them.

  9. Couldn’t agree more with the dress tips. I get so many compliments about my outfits and I cheat ALL THE TIME. Wearing a dress is so easy and I actually think it is more comfortable than my Lorna Jane flash dance pants and tee shirts (which I only wear in public if I’m on my way to or from doing the Bay Walk!). I don’t have to coordinate, I don’t have to worry about tucking anything in or should I leave it out. I can layer over and under a dress depending on the weather.

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