At some point in my early twenties, I stopped wearing your typical casual clothes – jeans, trainers, non-blazer jackets, T-shirts and the like. Instead, I could always be found flouncing around in a dress and proper shoes. I didnâ€™t even really own socks that werenâ€™t intended for sport because I had no use for them – it was either tights in winter or bare legs in summer. Over the past few years, however, Iâ€™ve been slowly putting my dresses into storage and replacing them with newly-purchased t jeans, T-shirts, casual cardigans (Iâ€™ll always have space in my heart for a good cardy) and, more recently, trainers. Here are my five essentials for casual dressing:
1. Sporty-looking trainers
Nike is my go-to brand here and they have such a huge range I think everyone will be able to find something they like. Monochrome running shoes are the chicest choice around at the moment (I prefer full colour). Iâ€™ve recently bought some Huaraches and Wildwoods in bright hues and couldnâ€™t be happier.
2. A great pair of tight jeans
You have to have jeans, the building block of the casual wardrobe. I have had to overcome my strong and long-held belief that ‘THEY JUST DIDNâ€™T SUIT ME OK?’ to become a regular jeans-wearer, but Iâ€™m finally there. I have some pairs from Gap and New Look that serve me well, but the best of all has to be the â€˜Jamieâ€™ from Topshop. This cut just works for me: high-waisted (perfect for avoiding any muffin top) and very tight, with a range of leg lengths that allow me to have some proper-length ones for ankle boots and dress-down days at work, and some shorter ones for wearing at weekends with sneakers or (twice a year or so) with heels for a night out. Being so late to the tight-jeans game, I am understandably concerned by reports about their decade-long rule coming to an end.
3. A classic leather jacket
Iâ€™ll confess here that I donâ€™t actually own a real-leather jacket – I rely on a pleather and faux-sheepskin one that Rachel picked up for me in Primark. However, I am always on the lookout for the ultimate leather jacket, and when I find The One I will swoop immediately. My main issue with most leather jackets is the silver zips and finishings – why?! Then there’s the fact that I canâ€™t really afford one. But if youâ€™ve spotted a good one in the shops recently that you think might fit the bill please leave me a comment.
For many years, I had convinced myself I couldnâ€™t wear shirts because of, well, you know, boobs. I was wrong (again – sigh) and now I can’t get enough of a casual shirt. My favourite is a denim one I picked up in Sainsburyâ€™s for well under Â£20, but there are delightful ones all over the place including at Leviâ€™s, Forever 21 and ASOS. Iâ€™ve also started to dabble in plaid shirts – fitted and buttoned up or over-sized and worn loose over a tight vest and jeans. These ones from Forever 21, Gap and Leviâ€™s do the trick nicely.
5. A smart coat
What a contradiction, I know! Â While I am fully on board the casual bus when it comes to the bulk of your outfit, I think finishing with an unexpectedly smart outer layer just works. Iâ€™ve had all of my coats for a few winters now, so if we werenâ€™t so tantalisingly close to the end of winter I would be seriously considering this belter from Damsel in a Dress or a super-long coat in grey like this Vero Moda one.
What are your favourite casual clothes? And where can I find the perfect leather jacket?