Help me rock the casual look.
August 12, 2010 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Would like gobs of pictures of women well put-together, focusing mainly on casual looks, and perhaps a little advice on dressing casually.

I'm learning how to put myself together in more than jeans, a solid color tank, and loafers, and would like to find lots of pictures to look through to give myself a better idea of my personal style preferences and options for wearing clothing. Browsing through online shops only shows me pics of individual pieces, and the fashion blogs I've found either don't have a plethora of pics, and/or have authors whose styles don't suit my lifestyle and/or taste.

The weather here ranges from nippy/humid to very warm/humid, say 50 - 85 F. My lifestyle calls for mainly casual clothing, but graphic tees and flip-flops, or yoga pants and sneakers, don't appeal in the least. I have no idea what to wear to the beach other than a swim suit (not happening). I seem to be drawn to clean, simple, classic styles; more romantic boho; and frequently some more eccentric/artsy pieces. My recent wardrobe purchases have all been too dressy, and get comments. They are better suited to the office or to parties, rather than lounging at home covered in cats, walking on the beach, or hanging out at the park with a preschooler.

I'm a tall, somewhat slender woman with a mostly hourglass shape and broad shoulders. There is nothing particularly delicate about my face or body, and I'd like to look/feel more feminine, but I feel like a drag queen in obvious frills.

(On a side note, any tips on how to feel less conspicuous in my more stylish clothes would be lovely. Intellectually, I love the look of a little neck scarf, but I can't bring myself to put one on and go out in it. My pretty little one-shouldered, gauzy shirt is languishing in the closet.)
posted by moira to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
academichic is a great blog for simple dressing.
posted by k8t at 12:32 PM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]

Do you ever go to the Sartorialist? Great inspiration there.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

How do you feel in dresses? My lifestyle sounds similar to yours, and I have worn pants/jeans maybe twice in the last 3 months, for a number of reasons (comfort, heat, can't find pants that fit). Simple sundresses can look nice without being dressy, especially when worn with flats. When it gets cooler, you can wear stockings (wool if you can find them) and boots or close-toed flats. I like to belt my dresses to make my shape look more hourglass.

People commenting on what you wear isn't necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it means they notice you, but it doesn't necessarily have judgment attached. If you wear what you're comfortable in and feel attractive in, you'll find that you worry about this less.
posted by emilyd22222 at 12:51 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cardigan Empire is a good guide to dressing for your body type, and her styles tend to be business casual but still hip and comfy.
posted by lhall at 12:51 PM on August 12, 2010

Why don't you make your own photos (or your own lists, if phone-photos of strangers are creepy (to me it would depend on context)) Next time you're out at the park, with your kid, walking on the beach, at a well-dressed coffeshop, etc. do a bit a people-watching and see what kinds of outfits are appealing to you. What looks good on other people who do the same kinds of things you do?

You're right, it's hard to get ideas from a website, but the physical catalogs can be enlightening because you get models wearing outfits, and layering different pieces from the catalog - however, I don't know where to suggest that you find J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Land's End, etc catalogs, without having their mailing list send you 2 catalogs per month until the end of time.

Also, don't be put off because your clothes "get comments". Anything that's recognized as a change from the normal will get comments, and sometimes people say things that are intended to be neutral, kidding, "look I noticed", or even positive, and only manage to sound critical. If you like something, wear it. (I still wear my drapey non-weather-related scarf whenever I feel like it, despite my coworker calling it "very Annie Hall, oh, wait, you're too young for that", because he's a clueless jerk sometimes.)

"Dressed up" is kind of a construct - the main reason you don't see party dresses at the hardware store is that they tend to be uncomfortable, restrict (modest) movement, and/or are difficult to clean; if you have a comfortable dress you can throw in the washer, wear it! There is nothing inherently "dressed up" about a shirt with buttons, or a skirt; it's all about your comfort level in saying "hello world, this is what I'm wearing".
posted by aimedwander at 1:00 PM on August 12, 2010

I don't know of any specific blogs, but lots of clothing stores have "looks" put together on their sites. You might like the clothing at Anthropologie, and they have a link called outfits: now + later that might give you some ideas on how to put together casual yet stylish looks. I think J.Crew might have the same thing; there's also another catalog I get in the mail that sounds up your alley. I can't recall the name, but it usually has lots of flowy skirts, sweaters, silver jewelry. I'll just to remember and comment again.
posted by JenMarie at 1:09 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I found this blog while looking for an answer to someone else's question earlier this week, and I already kind of love it. (Maybe because the woman who runs it dresses a lot like I do.)

Already Pretty

posted by MsMolly at 1:18 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

J Crew?
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:21 PM on August 12, 2010

I've always enjoyed Bill Cunningham's On the Street in the Sunday NYTimes.
posted by minkll at 1:22 PM on August 12, 2010

I have your exact body type! I'm almost 6 feet tall, broad shouldered, big-footed, 'stacked,' and super leggy. Literally nothing looks subtle on me. I have to dress reallllly carefully or things get a little RuPaul (not necessarily bad but perhaps more attention-getting than I need on a regular basis). So I own it. I tend toward relatively simple pieces with flattering shapes and unexpected, pretty details. No layers upon layers of ruffles or beading. It also helps to strut.

What's your leg situation like? If you're confident in them: full, flouncy miniskirts (as slightly above the knee) in a pretty, bold color + tank top + cardigan + flats. If you're not super happy with them: full, flouncy below the knee skirts! Also: pretty waist enhancing dress + flats. Also cut-offs/well tailored shorts and menswear-inspired button down shirts are like my beach uniform. And also a my go-to date outfit is a casual (as in stretch cotton) pencil skirt and strapless 'bustier' type top (sounds terrifying in concept but is actually quite cute in execution). I just switch between different components of those same outfits all summer long.

Graphic print skirt, pretty blouse, best beach shirt, best dress, shorts!

Basically Madewell, J. Crew, Anthro, ShopBop, and Etsy are your friends!

YES to the Sartorialist. Also Garance Dore, Sea of Shoes , Kara's Closet, and Models Off-Duty.

I really like these sorts of questions.
posted by Tha Race Card at 1:29 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might like the blog You Look Fab, which has some great casual style formulas and visual examples of flop-proof outfits.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:34 PM on August 12, 2010

I know a lot of people here like the Sartorialist; personally I find him too "fashion-y." For that type of website I like StreetsWalker - the women are far more varied in size and style, and just have more of an individual look to them. Also, being shot mostly in Israel, it would be more in line with your warmer climate.

clean, simple, classic styles; more romantic boho; and frequently some more eccentric/artsy pieces

For websites/catalogs, I'd also suggest Anthropologie and J Crew. And Garnett Hill, and Sundance, and maybe JJill (though they can be a bit dowdy.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:39 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, I remembered the other catalog I was thinking about: Boden. I've never personally bought anything from them but some of their stuff looks pretty nice. They have a link on their site called "outfit ideas" that might help you figure out what you're looking for.
posted by JenMarie at 1:52 PM on August 12, 2010

I like a lot of the blogs (Academichic and Already Pretty especially) that are listed above. Here's one that is a little more like what I think you're describing in terms of style: Fashion for Nerds. I think you might also like Kendi Everyday and byhillary.

I read a few fashion blogs like these and others listed above, though my style isn't really the same. But I've picked out ideas from all of these bloggers and incorporated them into my own style. I'm pleased that so many of them talk about thrift shops, clearance racks, and other bargain-priced shopping options. I'm also pleased when they mention that they've had a shirt or skirt for 8-10 years and it still looks fresh and cute and stylish. I love that.

Google Reader, the RSS reader, allows you to look at blogs that are like other blogs in your feed. That's a great way of finding new fashion blogs if you really want one that can meet your style. And these bloggers are forever linking each other as well as other websites where good stuff can be found. I agree with DestinationUnknown about the Sartorialist- it rarely has practical advice on how to find the clothes, which all look too expensive and preppy for me anyway.
posted by aabbbiee at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you checked out Athleta? It's not just workout wear, it has skirts/skorts, dresses, etc. Title Nine also has casual wear that you might like.
posted by mogget at 3:50 PM on August 12, 2010

I think lookbook is exactly what you're looking for. Some of the outfits might be a little too out there, but it's great for inspiration.
posted by ghost dance beat at 5:23 PM on August 12, 2010

There's this series on Jezebel called "Dress Code", and I believe there are at least a couple that could help you.
posted by batmonkey at 5:46 PM on August 12, 2010

adding that I'm really digging Patagonia's clothes for comfy yet dressy.
posted by k8t at 7:22 PM on August 12, 2010

Perhaps you would like Fashionist.
posted by flex at 10:27 PM on August 12, 2010

Ooh Im starting to feel like alll I do in answers is link to, but it answers your question perfectly, so here:

Register and describe your body shape/size and you can choose to see everyone who is a similar size.
posted by Ness at 2:44 AM on August 13, 2010

Response by poster: WOW, wonderful answers, thanks! I've got lots of browsing to do.
posted by moira at 9:28 AM on August 13, 2010

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