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6 Easy Ways You Can Elevate Casual Outfits

What does elevated casual mean to you? To me, it’s a relatively simple and casual outfit that I kick up a notch.  This month for our Over 50 Style Edit, Cindy and I are being joined again by Brenda to chat about elevated casual. It’s my preferred way of dressing so today I’m sharing 6 easy ways you can elevate casual outfits.

I would be remiss to not start with the obvious… posture and grooming. They can make or break any outfit.

WEARING –  CHEETAH PRINT PULLOVER  –  PEARL STUD EARRINGS  –  WOVEN TOTE BAG  –  SLIP-ON SNEAKERS  –   SUNGLASSES   –  LIPSTICK IN “CONFIDENCE”

Posture

Age, lack of muscle tone, and injury often take a toll on our posture. Many of us have also developed tech-neck and lead with our chin or simply slouch. You can level up any outfit by taking care to stand up straight. Lift your head and push your chin back so your ears are over your shoulders where they belong.

WEARING – SWEATER BLAZER  –   CHEETAH PRINT PULLOVER  –  PEARL STUD EARRINGS  –  WOVEN TOTE BAG  –  SLIP-ON SNEAKERS  –   SUNGLASSES   –  LIPSTICK IN “CONFIDENCE”

Grooming

Clothes with wrinkles, stains, hanging threads, or lint balls are never elevated so keep that sweater shaver at the ready and invest in an easy-to-use steamer. This is my favorite. While you’re at it, yellowing hair with frayed ends and chipped nail polish also put the kibosh on elevated style. If you don’t have time to redo your chipping polish, simply remove it because no polish looks much better than chipped polish.

woman wearing leopard sweater and jeans

Embrace neutrals

Don’t shoot the messenger here but neutrals do give a more elevated look than an outfit made from a rainbow of colors. That’s not to say that color isn’t fun and plenty stylish. It’s just easier to create an elevated look in neutral items. Animal print is a neutral in my wardrobe because it goes with everything.

Related – 7 Easy Ways To Look More Elegant on Any Budget

 

elevated casual outfit of sweater blazer and jeans
WEARING –  SWEATER BLAZER  –  CHEETAH SWEATER  –  BOOTCUT JEANS  –  LEATHER BELT  –  PEARL EARRINGS  –  SHOULDER BAG  –  SIMILAR BOOTIES

Here’s the same sweater blazer and pullover, leveled up with a few changes. Woven leather is more casual than smooth so I swapped the tote for a smooth leather shoulder bag. I changed to longer jeans that cover my ankle. Swapped sneakers for suede booties. Tucked in my sweater, added a belt then pinned on an old brooch with faux pearls. It’s still jeans and a sweater but more elevated.

Add the Third Layer

Adding a third layer adds a level of polish that elevates every outfit. A blazer, cardigan, vest, wrap, pullover, or even a shirt worn open over a tee shirt works here by adding a level of detail that elevates your look. If blazers feel too business-like to you, check out sweater blazers that move with you and feel like a cardigan.

woman wearing sweater blazer with jeans to elevate casual outfit
WEARING –  SWEATER BLAZER  –  CHEETAH SWEATER  –  BOOTCUT JEANS  –  LEATHER BELT  –  PEARL EARRINGS  –  SHOULDER BAG  –  SIMILAR BOOTIES

Don’t forget accessories

One of my favorite ways to level up a casual outfit is with accessories. They needn’t be expensive to have bang for their buck and unique ones help add personality to your look. Scarves, belts, and jewelry provide extra detail, and simply switching to a more structured handbag can step up an outfit.

Shoes

And finally, footwear. We all love comfy shoes and sporty sneakers are hugely popular but it’s hard to create an elevated look with clunky athletic shoes. It can certainly be done, but the simple act of switching to a non-sport shoe will instantly upscale your look.

How do you elevate a casual outfit?

Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

Now let’s go see what Cindy at Cindy Hattersley Design and Brenda at 1010 Park Place

6 easy ways you can cen elevate casual outfits

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43 Comments

  1. Thank you, Jennifer! Someone mentioned not being able to find this online but when I clicked on the link from your post it took me to JCrew Factory and all sizes seemed available in black. I just ordered the small.

  2. Joan Lucas says:

    What size are you wearing in the sweater blazer? I’m your size and would like to order a small but the reviews say it runs large. Thank you!

    1. I’m wearing a small

  3. Mary Ann Pickett says:

    This is so helpful, Jennifer!! Thank you.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Mary Ann

  4. Rebecca Mikkelsen says:

    Hello Jennifer,

    Your fashion sense has guided me to several purchases that have become “favorites”; thank you. I was taken by the J Crew black sweater blazer you featured today, especially for the length and relatively lightweight fabric. I immediately ordered it online, to pick up locally, only to learn that they cancelled the sale because the product was no longer available, and removed it from their website. My search online at Talbots, Nordstrom and others turned up no comparable product. I look forward to your suggestions.

    You also mentioned the value of good posture. Often, I’m unaware that I have rolled my shoulders. Recently, I discovered a wearable technology that quietly, gently and briefly vibrates when I’ve slouched for too long (and I can set the length of time). The product is UPRIGHT. It’s proved to be an effective training method; my shoulders are less tense now.

    Kind Regards,
    Rebecca

  5. Excellent post! Thank you. Great example of how to elevate…starting with my posture and grooming…then paying attention to the message that my outfit is sending rather than just how my body feels in it. As someone who tends to be more casual, I’ve been trying to elevate to Smart Casual and this really helps. Would love to see more content like this from you when possible. Also— I’ve been needing a good steamer and defuzzer, thank you for the link! I ordered them both 🙂

    1. These are great ones. I used to have a huge steamer and it didn’t do a better job than this one.

  6. Does the “wash” of the jeans make a difference? Darker jeans seem a little dressier to me.

    1. They do seem dressier to me too, as do white

  7. I’m confused about the neutrals suggestion. Perhaps you mean a base layer of neutral with some color for the accessories? Is that why it’s “easier” to elevate the look? The third layer could certainly elevate with some color as Cindy shows in one of her examples. (My style and preferences lean more toward Cindy’s aesthetic anyway.) Wouldn’t a column of color–like the black on black classic–achieve the same idea if the color were red, or pink, or purple? I’m afraid I just don’t follow your argument.

    1. That certainly works. My point is that an outfit with items in multiple colors is harder to pull together into a cohesive look.

  8. Great outfit! Loved the bag until I saw the price…but certainly can use this one as an example! LOL 🙂

  9. Thank you for a great post — the changes you made have so much visual pop. I appreciate the example you used. Also thank you for the note about posture. I am learning so much about proper posture and alignment for knee care in physical therapy.

  10. Sandra Sallin says:

    Love that sweater. I’m scared to try on my jeans after 2 years of wearing joggers. But you look great. I love your reminder to sit up straight as I was slouching over the computer! looking good Jennifer.

    1. Thank you Sandra xo

  11. Cath 🇨🇦 says:

    Good Grief…I thought for a moment I was looking at myself this morning, Jennifer!
    I have all of the same components… and wear this combo myself. 😀
    My cheetah print pullover has a touch of fun pink amongst the spots…but wear with my jeans, tobacco boots, and the black Nordstrom long cardigan( purchased from a much earlier blog of yours) . I love that woven leather bag, but honestly, I have a great selection of totes ,and must get them out so they’re not forgotten.
    I so agree about having accessories easily available. I have a clothing tree on which I hang my everyday garments in use , but also favourite scarves over hangers.
    Other scarves are in baskets sorted according to colours, so fairly easy to find.
    Wool scarves and shawls are almost ready to be put away as the days warm up… which currently is in hiatus here. Brooches are an accessory that need some love… must remember to open that drawer more often to see what works. Thanks for your great post… and stand ( and sit) tall!

    1. I’m working on a new way to see my brooches as well because I forget about them too often

  12. Barbara Patterson says:

    Thank you! It was a delight to watch your outfit transform with such simple changes/additions. Brilliant!

  13. Excellent tips! Thank you.

  14. Oh my gosh, I love every single thing you are wearing! That teddy sweater is fabulous and at such a great price! That sweater is one of the best they have ever made. Love the combination of the two. I have been wanting that tote! So glad to see it in person. I think it is calling my name! Great post and great suggestions!!

  15. Thanks for this ‘reminder’ of what we can do to up our game a little with items we already have in our closets! That Talbots sweater makes a real difference as you point out. I waited too long to purchase one last year, so I need to be faster this year and/or go through my blazers again to see what might work. Posture is not as easy as it sounds when you’ve been working at computers for decades. I had to do PT to move my head/neck back.

    1. I’m really having to work hard on mine!

  16. For me, the “level” of an outfit starts with the shoes. Shoes change the whole vibe – think of the difference wedge sandals make over flip-flops. Also make sure your shoes are clean and in good repair. I once knew an otherwise stylish lady who wears heels often – but the backs of her right shoes were significantly scuffed from driving. Discoloured to the point where it looked like she was wearing two different shoes!

    1. Great point, Sue. That falls under the grooming category for me. Shoes do take a beating while driving.

  17. Love how you changed the outfit! Great ideas!

  18. Linda in Virginia says:

    Great idea to accessorize a sweater with a pin – even with jeans!

  19. I agree with your statement that neutrals are easier to coordinate into an elevated look. I still feel much more confident and coordinated in cool neutrals…maybe a pop of color. Some of the color consultants have made us feel we have to wear “our pallet of color or be hopelessly unattractive. I save the big color splashes for the golf course!

    1. Thank you for saying what I was thinking. This isn’t in my “cool” color pallet but I love it so I will wear it. I’m always happier in neutrals.

  20. It is fun to change a look with earrings, pins, scarfs, sweater blazer and cute boots and purse.
    Really like your outfit today. You took it from supper casual, little dresser to very sheik.
    Thanks for the great info.

    1. It’s a subtle shift and so easy to do. The trick for me is having accessories visible so I remember them 🙂

  21. Great reminders for all of us. Love both your looks. Leopard print with black always elevates an outfit.

    1. I agree! I love it.

  22. Great comments. Posture is the finishing touch to any outfit. I luv the cheetah top with jeans I have an yet unworn one in my closet and will give a try. Thanks.

  23. 1010ParkPlace says:

    Hi Jennifer, Thanks for asking me to join you and Cindy again. Like you, elevated casual is my favorite way of dressing. “Push your head back so your ears are over your shoulders where they belong… ” LOL! You’re talking to me! Thank you! I needed that. Love the brooch! xoxox, Brenda

    1. I love your style Brenda! So chic. I’m going to copy your cameo idea! Brilliant! xo

  24. I seem to need a refresh or reset that keeps me on my toes! This blog does just that for me. Your style today is a look that I love to wear and it’s very eye opening to see how you elevated this casual style. Longer jeans, a beautiful brooch, a dressier shoe…. I can do this! All the other details that you outlined are not difficult to do. Put them all together and it creates that more modern, visible look that many of us are striving for. Thank you!

    1. I’m glad it’s helpful. Need these reminders too! Happy Friday Jan

  25. Appreciate the reminder about posture. I’ve been really struggling with it. Trying to find the right exercises that will help.

    1. Surprisingly one of the best I’ve found is to stand against a wall, put your shoulders back to touch the wall (mine like to be forward) then press back of head against wall without lifting chin. Just hold. It’s amazing how hard it is to do.