Extreme Casual Style For Weekends, Retirement, Stay-At-Home Moms And Anyone, Really


Back in 2013, I wrote a post about putting together a whole new wardrobe from scratch. We talked about how to stratify your closet, allowing you to dress well even when you have to muster all your courage to make the effort, along with some strategies for better days.

However, back then I was working, and the ideas I presented included the office. What are the equivalent ideas for the non-office world? For truly, madly, deeply casual lives? Weekends, stay-at-home moms, or Tomboy Retirement? The numbers and outfits are different, the stratification concept similar.

Stage 1: Survival

You can barely dress yourself, but, needs must. Kids have to get to school, there’s food to be purchased, you’re out of soap. Guiding principle?

Just don’t go naked. Seriously. There is no requirement in this world that you look pulled-together, you owe no one style. If you want to slam on clothes and bam on out the door, it’s your right. And here’s some impunity from the High WASP magic wand just in case. Ping!

Stage 2: Humming Along

OK. You’ve slept reasonably well. Armed with that list of errands, you’re in the groove. But you aren’t yet ready to sacrifice comfort for A Look. By the way, we’re wearing flats. I know you might find a little heel more comfortable, now, but I posit the theorem that time out of the office or social soirees is well-spent in returning our bodies to more natural states.

Untitled #193

 

Philosophy:

On days of The Bare Minimum, AKA 2-25mph, I stick to one of these 3 modern silhouettes.

  • Body conscious top (not tight per se) with loose cuffed pants
  • A neat shirt (think athletic fit) with flared bottoms
  • Long over lean

I realize I’m ruling out the full Eileen Fisher of loose shirt and wide pants, but, while classic, I do not consider that look modern. Besides, if I am to avoid looking rumpled and messy in all that fabric, I must pay more attention than I’d like. These 3 silhouettes also rule out camp shirt and cargo capris; let me go on record as saying that I do not find that widely adopted look terribly flattering on anyone.

I have also found 3 color schemes very useful in looking pulled together with minimal effort and money:

  • Your best color augmented by tried and true subtle complementary hues (blues with a burnt orange, greens with a tobacco brown, etc.)
  • Neutrals with a little pattern or texture
  • Monochromatic (shades of red, green, all black, etc.)

What you don’t want to do is hop into black pants thinking, “Doesn’t black go with everything?” and then add a top in whatever color is on top of the drawer.  If you’re adding anything, even to black, you want to mean it. The same principle holds true for jeans or khakis. All the colors you wear matter, they can’t be wished away, your pants are not invisible.

It’s really easy to fix this, by the way. Just choose a color set. It can be very, very small.

Details:
Selvedge jeans on sale at Levis // Blue tees from Calypso St. Barth, James PerseSteven Alan // Orange Birkenstock Gizeh on sale at 6pm //  Climachill tee from Adidas // Yoga pants on sale at Old Navy // Black Nike sneakers via Kohls // Fawn skinnies on sale at the GAP // Striped tunic from J. Crew // Kamik wellies via Zappos

You will find style at the very outskirts of elegance by representing your intentions, by embodying your aesthetic. People with intention are assumed to be taking care of themselves, and that’s the first principle of extreme casual style.

BTW, some might pull out a maxi dress in this situation. Tomboys don’t like flappy fabric, so I save dresses for, well, dress up. However, I support your choice and perhaps you might share some ideas with the gang here.

Stage 3. Rev The Motor, Almost Imperceptibly

You want to step it up, just a tad. Maybe it’s lunch with Dad, maybe a trip to the elegant mall, maybe the city streets call you to style up, baby, style up. But keep your flats.

Untitled #192

 

Philosophy:

The 3 basic silhouettes persist. However, in the Extreme Casual world, as you dress up you add interest at every level. Oh, and dress wearers, this is when we shift to, well, shifts, right? Along with,

  • Comfortable but well-designed accessories
  • More adventurous color mixing
  • More embellishment to shape
  • More visually layered fabrics
  • A tad more texture and spark to those flats
Details:
Peach scarf from the Block Shop // Earrings via Max & Chloe // White Topshop peplum jacket via Nordstrom // J. Brand bell-bottoms via net-a-porter // Isabel Marant draped gray ombre top via Farfetch  // Kenzo Eye sweatshirt via Forward by Elyse Walker// Turquoise Jack Rogers on sale at Amazon // Vince sneakers via Nordstrom (online only) // Pointy-toe brogues via Nordstrom

Stage 4. Blowing Out All Cylinders

And blowing it out? Here we converge with the world at work. The world of dressing up is its own, a bubble, without reference to where we come from or where we go next. Wear a little black dress. Or a long silver one. Or try budget black tie. And yes, this is the moment for heels. The only constraints are time, money and imagination.

I suspect you all have the imagination, in spades. That’s what matters most. In the meantime, I’ve added to my >25mph sneaker collection, with the Vince sneakers above, in Mushroom. They run a size small. See you on the speedway.

 

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16 Comments

  • 10/10/14
    9:43 am

    Reply

    Laura Lewis said...

    Excellent post. Right up my alley!

    10/11/14
    10:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Laura Lewis, happy to be of service!

  • 10/10/14
    10:04 am

    Reply

    Tabitha said...

    Is there a don’t really care that much option? Unless I am going somewhere I put so little effort into my appearance but that’s how I like it, jeans, a top, loafers and a coat/jacket – easy peasy ready to go.

    10/11/14
    10:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Tabitha, Loafers are already up a notch from my sneakers!

  • 10/10/14
    11:09 am

    Reply

    Mary Anne said...

    Ha ha ha! “Retired Tomboy!” That’s me. I knew we were on the same wavelength. Great ideas. Am so with you on cargo capris. Yuck. Although in all fairness, my daughters wear cargos when walking about streets alone in big cities. eliminates need for a purse. Sometimes safety trumps style. Besides they’re young,slim and therefore can somewhat get away with it.

    10/11/14
    10:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mary Anne, Oh, safety should definitely trump style!

  • 10/10/14
    11:28 am

    Reply

    Patience said...

    Very helpful post! I’m usually in the 2-25mph zone myself.

    10/11/14
    10:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Patience, So glad to be useful!

  • 10/10/14
    12:29 pm

    Reply

    Eleanorjane said...

    I’m all about revving the motor, me. I live in town so whenever I step outside the door, I’m in a reasonably public place. I do have the odd day when I can’t be bothered or just don’t have anything decent to wear, but I always find I feel better when I’ve taken a bit of care.

    10/11/14
    10:53 am
    Lisa said...

    @Eleanorjane, Town/city life really does have different demands.

  • 10/10/14
    2:48 pm

    Reply

    flwjane said...

    Don’t shoot me but I am a legging woman on occasion.

    A plain sleeveless tshirt, a long button down cardigan,a pair of black leggins and some suede loafers. boom. I’m out the door, maybe a scarf wrapped around my neck if weather calls.

    But first is always blue jeans.

    Oh and gym clothes, live in those.

    It’s comfort first for me always.

    Loved this post.

    xo J

    10/11/14
    10:53 am
    Lisa said...

    @flwjane, Leggings and loafers – nice work!

  • 10/10/14
    7:38 pm

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    Oooh I •really• like those two-toned brogues! I’m more of a ‘uniform’ dresser myself, and do OK if I avoid any exaggerated silhouettes (e.g., balloon skirts with ties and ruching, superwide tops with dolman sleeves).

    10/11/14
    10:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @Duchesse, It’s very hard to carry off exaggerated silhouettes unless you are Iris Apfel.;)

  • 10/11/14
    4:20 am

    Reply

    RoseAG said...

    I have seen those Jack Rogers sandals on girls all over the place. In the summer they look casual, comfortable, a step-up from rubber flip-flops. I bought a pair – they are such a disappointment.

    They are so uncomfortable. The sole has no mercy, the pattern on the heel area digs the bottom of my foot. They look nice when you go out to dinner at the beach, but you’d better not be planning on walking anywhere after dinner.

    10/11/14
    5:38 am
    M said...

    @RoseAG, Don’t laugh, but I have enormous difficulty finding shoes that address all of the issues my feet have and noted about Jack Rodgers precisely what you describe here. A couple of years ago, I discovered TJ Maxx knock-offs of that sandal with a synthetic sole and bought a pair in every color I could find and they are all still going strong! The style of the original JR is flattering but the composition of them can be really rough on aging feet (and lower backs).

    10/11/14
    7:33 am
    kathy said...

    They take awhile to break in, but then they’re very comfortable. I always wear them and get them very wet and let them dry on my feet.

    10/11/14
    10:30 am
    Mary Anne said...

    @RoseAG, also, they are very slippery. Those and Bonnanos Very cute, but not for any real walking.

    10/11/14
    10:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, I have never actually worn them, only coveted from afar. I may have to do a test!

  • 10/11/14
    5:31 am

    Reply

    M said...

    Great ideas! I was retired for exactly 6 months and struggled with the loss of my dressing algorithm. Admittedly, I wore a school uniform for 12 years and a police uniform for 7, so I can attribute some of my need for structure to early and long-established patters, all puns intended.

    Now I work part-time in the field where I made my career, yay, and am enjoying a high level of comfort in both personal and professional attire, again yay. Absolutely love the guidance you provide here.

    10/11/14
    10:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @M, Thank you very much.

  • 10/11/14
    7:28 am

    Reply

    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    Love your system! I’m finding that my clothes-shopping is beginning to be influenced by the idea that I might retire Ina year or so. This means perhaps buying fewer of certain items like skirts, dresses, and yet I really enjoy wearing these and suspect I will find ways to work them into my retirement wardrobe. Much will depend on how much time we end up spending in our little city apartment and how much on our little dirt-roads island, very different lifestyles.

    10/11/14
    10:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, I look forward to your evolution in all its guises.

  • 10/11/14
    7:35 am

    Reply

    kathy said...

    Very good suggestions, and some nice items you’ve chosen. Love slip on sneakers – or “skater” shoes.

    10/11/14
    10:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @kathy, Thanks! I am really liking the Vince slipons, at least from their first wear.

  • 10/11/14
    8:02 am

    Reply

    Ellen said...

    I will be curious to see if you will make the same choices when you have been retired a little longer. Those of us outside of California will notice that there are no sweaters, no jackets, no serious shoes for cold or rainey days. It is, after all, mid October, and most of us are not turning our mind to sandals. This would have been such a good opportunity to ban the misshapen stretched out hoodie from anyplace but the garden, or cleaning the garage.

    I have no one who needs picking up after school, but there are three elementary schools within half mile of my house, and I would say that the majority of stay at home moms dress in the streetwear sold at athletic wear shops like Athleta, Title 9, etc., and they look great. A tomboy might enjoy these as well.

    10/11/14
    10:57 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ellen, Ah, yes, I did not have room in the collages for jackets/outerwear. I did include rain boots, which is what we need here if the drought ever ends. I agree on the athletic street wear – that’s what I mean by the yoga pants/athletic top from Adidas – the brand I have a nostalgic love for.

    I may change my mind over time.

  • 10/12/14
    1:48 pm

    Reply

    Mamavalveeta03 said...

    Lisa, the Isabel Marant top is a brilliant choice! Although I didn’t realize she would qualify as “High Wasp”…more “Boho Wasp”?!?
    The brogues are now on my list.

  • 10/13/14
    6:46 am

    Reply

    Loryn said...

    I’ve been unexpectedly off all year due to being downsized at 40. I’ve had a terrible time figuring out how to look halfway presentable. I’m a Sturdy Laborer, so a typical week will find me helping friends to clear out stuff and organized (with all the dust, hauling, and cleaning that entails), skim coating walls, repairing ceilings, or doing light carpentry. I’ve found some nice accessories for when I’m not laboring, but when I am, my only accessory tends to be paint in my hair!

  • 10/14/14
    10:53 am

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    love this post and find that it is right up my alley as this pretty much summarizes the type of dressing formula I have been drawn too as we move into fall. I suspect that this will pretty much summarize my pattern, with a few small variations, for much of the year. I love casual dresses with flat sandals or sneakers in the summer, but once you add tights in the colder months, the attitude changes and I prefer jeans.

  • 10/18/14
    10:56 am

    Reply

    Simona said...

    I work at home myself, and it can be hard to revv yourself up. But it helps so much, it makes me way more productive. And you are right with the tools, you don’t even have to be too much work. I am starting afresh myself, cleaned out my wardrobe, and taking this little experiment. Love your post.
    Simona
    Lake&Moon Fall capsule wardrobe

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