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 didn’t even really own socks that weren’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, I’ve been slowly putting my dresses into storage and replacing them with newly-purchased t jeans, T-shirts, casual cardigans (I’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). I’ve recently bought some Huaraches and Wildwoods in bright hues and couldn’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 DIDN’T SUIT ME OK?’ to become a regular jeans-wearer, but I’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 ‘Jamie’ 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
I’ll confess here that I don’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 can’t really afford one. But if you’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 couldn’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 Sainsbury’s for well under £20, but there are delightful ones all over the place including at Levi’s, Forever 21 and ASOS. I’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 Levi’s do the trick nicely.
5. A smart coat
What a contradiction, I know! 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. I’ve had all of my coats for a few winters now, so if we weren’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?