Extra Casual Summer Wear…Not a.k.a. Sloppy, Skimpy or Boring

This is it.  The column that’s for really casual offices (see also Smart Casual for Summer…From Intern to Boss), weekend errands, casual date nights and the like.

First, I discovered I have a lot to say about extra casual summer.  If you’ve read a few blog posts, this will likely come as no surprise.  But for some reason, it always surprises me…

  • I don’t like tissue-weight tees, a.k.a. slub material.  It’s entirely possible that it’s because I don’t think I can wear it, but whatever the case, I don’t like it.
  • Steer clear of plain tee-shirts because there are way too many cute items with ruffles, beaded embellishments and prints.
  • Speaking of cute tops…if you have a big bust, be careful with the shirred necklines (they look like they’re pleated).  I know this is supposed to camouflage, but it actually creates some weird affect that emphasizes size and separation of the girls.
  • I did not include shorts in here, but personally, I think women over the age of 30 and definitely over 35 should strongly consider an inseam in the 7″ – 9″ range.  Be careful that they don’t cover your knees.
  • Wear more jewelry.  Even if I’m just running up to Target, I throw on a necklace.  Wood, matte beads, dull metals, acrylic – these are all great casual accessories.
  • I always like to have a top layer – a 3/4 or short sleeve cardigan is a great essential.
  • No one wants to see your bra straps…no matter how cute and colorful they are.  I don’t understand why they make tops that don’t cover these.  And this does not give you permission to NOT wear a bra.
  • Athletic sandals, Crocs, amphibious shoes, etc. are not for offices, date nights, girls nights or family bbqs.  They are for your backyard, garden or for very specific events that require specific functionality.
  • Great breathable fabrics for summer include cotton, linen and silk.  Poly blends are not summer friendly.  In fact, make an effort to weed out the poly blends all together because most cotton items have stretch.
  • If I see a skort that I’d recommend, I’ll let you know.  There was a time I thought they were OK.  That time has yet to return.
  • Just because a store sells it does not mean you (or anyone else) should buy and wear it.
  • There are some amazing local jewelry designers and a plethora of local art fairs this summer.  As your style becomes clear, you’ll know when to invest in a piece you’ll want to wear every day.

Are you ready for the goods?  I have four segments – denim, relaxed pants, skirts and dresses – for petites, average and plus sizes.  I tried to stick with lower cost items as much as possible so you’ll see a lot from Target, Old Navy, Kohl’s and Gap.

All of these items are available to shop through my Wishpot page.  In the event you can’t find something, feel free to ask and I’ll make sure you find what you’re looking for.


Denim outfits

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I paired each denim look with a printed top to increase the value of the outfit.  A solid sweater keeps the outfit casual, as do simple necklaces in complementary colors.

A fun flat – in a ballet, flip-flop or semi-gladiator – is a perfect way to add personality to the look.

And make sure to switch to a lighter weight denim for summer.  There are a lot of great trouser denims that are lightweight and slightly dressier than regular denim.

Shop these items (from top to bottom):

  • Tops: Liberty of London for Target Ruffle Tank-Fairford, Liberty of London for Target Ruffle Tank Sixty, Merona Red/White Split-Neck Sleeveless Tee
  • Sweaters: Gap pocket cardigan (available in petite and regular), Old Navy Perfect Cropped Cardigan
  • Necklaces: Forever 21 Ornate Ball Necklace, Land’s End Chunky Horn Link Necklace, Ann Taylor LOFT 2-Strand Blue Stone Necklace
  • Jeans: Ann Taylor LOFT Modern Slim Leg, Gap Slim Cropped Denim Pants, Nordstrom Kenneth Cole NY Metro Jeans
  • Shoes: Target Mossimo Mustard Odell Ballet Flat, Endless DVF Zahara Thong, Target Mossimo Bronze Penelope Sequin Sandal

Relaxed Pants

Relaxed pants

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Cotton pants in different colors can be cooler than denim and give you a more relaxed look.  Just make sure you don’t cross the line into sloppy!  This means that if you wear linen, make sure it’s not too baggy and that it’s neatly pressed.  And stay away from unfitted drawstring pants as they will make the front and the back look dumpy.

The ruffled elements on each top are a feminine contrast to the relaxed pants.  Keep in mind that if you have a relaxed pant, you’ll definitely want a fitted top.

A geometric necklace adds texture too each look.  And an embellished sandal or flip-flop is an excellent way to add personality.

You can swap out any of the pants shown here with a skirt or a short.

Shop these items (from top to bottom):

  • Tops: Merona Flutter Neck Top, Old Navy Ruffle-Trim Henley, Old Navy Flutter-Sleeve V-Neck Tee
  • Necklaces: Target Wood Circle Jute Necklace, Kohl’s Daisy Fuentes Jet-Tone Multi-Hoop Necklace, Kohl’s Sonoma Beaded Necklace
  • Pants: Ann Taylor LOFT Marisa Chino, Old Navy Wide-Leg Pants, Old Navy White Flared-Leg Jeans
  • Shoes: Miss Trish of Capri for Target Lizard Sandal, Nordstrom Jeffrey Campbell Nena 2 Sandal, Gap Leather Flip-Flop


Skirt outfits

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I cheated by using all denim skirts.  The thing is, this is not a year with a ton of GOOD casual skirt choices. At least not online.

With that excuse, I chose a variety of solid or simple tops to pair with the skirts.  A micro stripe is just fine for any size, in my opinion.  A plain tee with a little ruffle at the neck is perfect casual.  And a drapey top helps hide some of the challenging areas.

Add in fun with a colorful necklace and shoe. Try not to be too matchy-matchy with colors.  As you keep experimenting here, it will get easier.  Trust me!

Shop these items (from top to bottom):

  • Tops: Kohl’s Chaps Striped Henley, Gap Ruffle Henley Tee, Old Navy Cowl-Neck Top
  • Necklaces: Old Navy Beaded Fashion Necklace, Forever 21 Multi-Tiered Celebrations Necklace, Urban Outfitters Nautical Wood Ring Necklace
  • Skirts: Target Merona Refined Denim Skirt, Kohl’s Dana Buchman Denim Skirt, Nordstrom Not Your Daughter’s Jeans Tummy Tuck Emma Pencil Skirt
  • Shoes: Target Mossimo Yellow Opal Peep Toe, Target Muk Luks Sophia Fairisle Wedge, Macy’s Unlisted Get A Grip Sandals



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I will admit that I don’t own much for casual dresses…yet.  As my style has been evolving, I started with the dressy category and have been working my way down.

There are some great choices out there this year so I plan to stock up and there are so many amazing local women that inspire.

These dress selections are some of the best at a lower price point.  Add a belt to give the dress a little structure and to show everyone where your waist is.  Incorporate a necklace and definitely try a casual wedge heel to play up your legs.

Shop these items (from top to bottom):

  • Dresses: Kohl’s Simply Vera Wang Gathered Dress, Old Navy Cabana Sundress, Old Navy Shirred Tank Dress
  • Belts: Old Navy Perforated Leather Belt, Kohl’s Relic Woven Braided Belt, Fashion Bug Perforated Floral Belt
  • Necklaces: Kohl’s Sonoma Beaded Multi-Strand Necklace, Kohl’s Simply Vera Wang Beaded Necklace, Forever 21 Beaded Wooden Necklace
  • Shoes: Endless Nine West Must-see Sandal, Endless Jessica Simpson Daria Espadrille, Endless Annie Odele Wedge

Other *highly* recommended summer reading:

I know summer is tricky, especially if you feel safe in long sleeves and layers.  If you want help shedding the dark colors and getting into brights and short sleeves, Fabuliss can help!

Contact me at hello@fabuliss.com and we can start by talking about your style questions, challenges and/or aspirations.


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3 Responses to “Extra Casual Summer Wear…Not a.k.a. Sloppy, Skimpy or Boring”

  1. Emily Schroeder Orvik Says:

    OK – I’m off to toss on a cute necklace over my plain tee shirt and shorts to dress myself up a bit for a day at the home office! : )
    Thanks for all the super advice and ideas – I can see part of my weekend will probably be working though my closet at least a first pass before seeking your professional help! (Can you hear me sort of doing the yodel hhheeeellllpppp!)

  2. Mari @ Mossimo Store Says:

    Hi there, just doing some browsing for my Mossimo website. Can’t believe the amount of information out there. Looking for something else, but great site. Have a great day.

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