Casual Chic Wardrobe Must-Haves

A wardrobe that works for you is well-planned, organized, pared-down and heavy on choices for casual occasions. You want the option to look chic in all venues, but you seldom go for glitter and glam. Instead, focus on simple, classic staples you can change with accessories. From movie nights to mother-in-law visits, your style is always appropriate when your closet is full of relaxed but elegant fashion.

Go-Everywhere LBD

The little black dress is a classic for a reason: You can dress it up, down and sideways for almost any occasion and it will always look chic. Score an LBD in a wrinkle-free knit and it will travel as well as you do. Add a toned-down jacket for day adventures, a fancy cropped topper for after-dark. Ballet flats are for shopping and city walking; heels kick it up a notch, and boots winterize it. A wrap dress is almost as all-around adaptable as that little black number; toss a denim jacket over it for slightly sporty occasions. A short turtleneck sweater dress can be a tunic over pants, a mini with solid tights and boots, a layered look over a long boho skirt.

gorgeous, timeless black dress

a great LBD is a casual chic must have

Basic Bottoms

Blue jeans are the universal fashion staple that belong in every wardrobe and show up everywhere from a Paris flea market to a double-decker in London and a red carpet event in Los Angeles. You won’t look like a ranch-hand with a smart wool tweed jacket and solid knit T-shirt or softly worn denim chambray work shirt, leather equestrian boots and a leather messenger bag. Khaki slacks or slim chinos will see you nicely through a casual Friday at the office or a weekend excursion. Swap them for thin-wale corduroys in the dead of winter to pair with a cable-knit turtleneck sweater. Simple black slacks, in summer and winter weights, are casual chameleons that adapt to dinner with friends or a visit to a museum.

Zipped, Belted and Buttoned-Down

A long-sleeved, button-down white shirt gets rolled-up cuffs and an open neck with summer slacks, paired with a leather bomber over jeans, belted and unbuttoned over a casual skirt and matching top. Neutral-colored solid T-shirts in a dressy fabric like linen are grab-it-and-go shirts for skirts, slacks or shorts. A well-cut classic wool jacket finishes any look — from distressed jeans to a wrap dress. The trench coat, in hip- or knee-length, is perennially stylish and polished. An understated dove-gray, charcoal or camel cardigan slips over gray flannel slacks, a pencil skirt and shirt, or a sleeveless A-line dress as a low-key and classic version of a chilly weather jacket.

a great trench is a casual chic wardrobe must have

a great trench is another must have


Plain black and nude pumps are understated and completely versatile. Wear them with pants or dresses, day or night — no kitten or killer heels for casual chic dressing. Easy loafers are practical and sporty. You can live in black and brown leather booties and knee-high boots in every season but summer, when you liberate your feet in platform sandals. A good leather bag with a shoulder-strap option is a fall-winter-early spring must-have; in summer opt for a straw tote or canvas messenger bag. Keep a subtly patterned silk shawl on hand to use as a knotted scarf, muffler or wrap.

gorgeous and comfortable leather pumps - the perfect pump

these pumps top off the perfect casual chic wardrobe

References & Resources


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