How to look great in casual clothes this summer + new mini challenge!

by Sylvia

How to wear casual clothes over 40 - summer edition |

Casual wear has become much more common over the years even to the point that I would wish we dressed up a bit more often. However, there are many situations where it is just more appropriate and fun to dress in a casual way.

Dressing casually does not have to mean that you look sloppy or ‘too young’ over 40. There are many ways to do casual in a very stylish way. Let’s have a look at  some of the ways you can look great in casual clothing.

Casual outfit formula 1: jeans plus a special T-shirt or a button down shirt

As I discussed before I don’t much like the plain boring t-shirt worn as an outer top. It makes the outfit too boring and simple and often shows lumps and bumps that are unflattering.

What is very effective though is to get a special t-shirt. Something that has a special design, a nice print, a draping element or an embellishment.

Another great option for jeans is the button down shirt. This can either be plain or have a print.

See the challenge results of casual outfit formula #1!

Casual outfit formula 2: jeans with top + jacket or cardigan

Casual outfit formula 2: jeans with with jacket |

One of my favorite ways to wear casual is to combine it with a slightly dressier garment. You can adjust that dressier garment to your taste. It can be a high qaulity blazer but can also be a more casual jean jacket or cardigan. For more rock chic appeal,you can choose leather.

Here is where those plain t-shirts come in handy as they are ideal to layer under your jacket.

See the challenge results of casual outfit formula 2!

Casual outfit formula 3: Printed pants with a plain or printed top

Casual outfit formula 2: printed pants |

Printed pants and jeans are still very popular and they are perfect for casual wear. Many of them are easy to combine with a button down shirt or a casual sweater.

If you like you can make these outfits less casual by adding more dressy shoes, but you can also go  the other way and make it more casual by adding sneakers.

See the challenge results of casual outfit formula 3!

Casual outfit formula 4: Skinnies or leggings with a tunic

Casual formula 4: skinnies or leggings with tunic or short dress |

Another favorite way to wear casual clothes for me is to wear skinnies with a fabulous short dress or tunic on top. You can make this look as casual or as chic as you like, depending on the tunic you choose underneath.

You can also vary your skinnies or leggings. You can opt for leather, coated ones, prints or use a simple jersey style. Always look for the right balance between your skinnies and your top. Both in terms of color and combination of prints, but also in terms of silhouette and height of your top. Try to create a flattering 1/3 – 2/3 silhouette for best results.

See the challenge results for casual outfit formula 5!

Casual outfit formula 5: a skirt with a loose top

Casual outfit formula 5: skirt with a loose top |

Skirts don’t have to be dressy. you can wear them in casual ways too by combining them with lose tops or sweaters. Casual footwear helps to make this look casual too.

Although a casual skirt look is easier to achieve with a-line skirts, it can work with straight skirts too.

See the challenge results for casual outfit formula 5!

Casual outfit formula 6: a long cotton / linen dress or skirt

Casual outfit formula 6: maxi skirt or dress |

The long dress is one of the easiest ways to create a polished casual look. Just wear the dress, add some flat sandals and you are done!

The same can be achieved with a long skirt although you will have the additional task of finding the perfect top with it.

See the challenge results for casual outfit formula 6!

Casual outfit formula 7: knee high pants with jacket

Coming back in style this season, knee high pants (sometimes referred to as clamdiggers or pedal pushers) can be worn in a casual chic way. They are often flattering as they don’t shorten your legs and you can dress them up or down.

Casual outfit formula 7: knee-high pants |

See the challenge results for casual out outfit #7!

Show me your best casual looks!

I’m sure there are many more formulas to wear your casual clothes but let’s stick with these 7 for now. Of course if you feel I have left out an important one you can always let me know in the comments.

Even though I have provided examples of each formula in this article, I’m going to devote separate articles to each formula in the following 7 weeks with many more examples and buying options. (For these collages I did not look a pricing of clothes or availability but your can check them all in my Polyvore account if you wish.)

Each week I’m going to show you a casual look of mine but would really love to see yours too!

Yes, that means there will be a mini challenge every week from now on! Will you join me and give us all lots of inspiration?

We will start with formula 1: jeans plus a special T-shirt or a button down shirt.

Here is how you can join

There are a 2 ways you can join in:

  1. Photograph yourself in a look that follows formula 1 and send the photo(s) to me at sylvia [at] Make sure your photo is of a good quality. You can send as many photos as you like, but they all need to follow the casual outfit formula 1, which is basically any kind of jeans with any kind of top (but no jackets or cardigans) and / or
  2. Create a collage just like I did above in Polyvore. It’s free to sign up and create collages and you can post the link to your collage in the comments or send it to me through email.

Please make sure your entry is in by Saturday 2 May.

I hope many of you will join in this fun dressing challenge and exercize your creative muscles with your dressing!

For now, let me know in the comments. What is your favorite formula for wearing casual clothes?


1 Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

Very well-done, Sylvia! I like a skirt with a loose top, and jeans with a special top, as my summer uniforms.

2 Sylvia

Thanks Patti. I hope you join in the mini challenge!

3 kay kerns

Formula 1 Jeans with a special top

4 Sylvia

That is a fabulous outfit Kay! Thanks for joining in the mini challenge.

5 Deborah

Syliva, I wish people dressed up more too. Casual dressing has been my biggest challenge. I love Formula 1 and Formula 4, both perfect for me and my wardrobe 🙂

6 Sylvia

Yes I love you wear 4 especially. Hope you join in for the mini challenge!

7 Trina

Great post Sylvia. I couldn’t agree more with you, I get a it tired of so much casual wear but love your formulas. My favorite(s) would be formula 1 and 5. I would love to join in on your mini challenge. I missed your first dead line, which was today but I’ll make sure and join the rest.

8 Sylvia

The deadline of today was for the short jacket challenge. Deadline for the casual outfit formula 1 outfit is Saturday 3 May which should give you time to join! By the way Trina. Did you receive an email from me last week?

9 Trina

No, I didn’t receive an email last week but we had a few power outages due to some crazy weather so it was most likely on my end. Glad to hear I’m not at all late with this fun challenge.

10 Stacey

So many possibilities with all these formulas …. thanks for the inspiration!

11 Sylvia

You are very welcome Stacey!

12 Aileen

These are brilliant ideas, Sylvia and have come just at the right time to help me sort out summer’s styles and possibilities.
I spent all day yesterday walking around the city looking for suitable casual/smart evening wear for a four night stay with friends at the beginning of June. It is so hard to hit just the right ‘note’; not too dressy but not too casual either.
The only thing I bought was navy cropped everyday jeans. Next time I go shopping I will have a better idea of what I should consider for this upcoming event.
Thanks Sylvia, your advice is always spot on and up to the minute.

13 Sylvia

Great! You already have the jeans for the first challenge. Hope you join in!

14 Dana B

I really enjoyed this article, particularly that I am working in an environment where everybody dress a bit more casual. I like the idea of creating interesting outfits with jeans by adding an interesting top or jacket/cardigan, instead of defaulting to a basic T-shirt and jeans. However, my favourite casual outfit by far is the tunic and skynnies or leggings.

I would like to participate to this mini competition but I am living in Australia where winter is fast approaching and I have already packed my summer clothes 🙂 Perhaps, I can do the majority of these looks, given that Australian winter is quite mild.

15 Sylvia

I hope you join Dana. You could easily do the first look with a top with sleeves or just wear 2 layers. Glad you liked the article!

16 Greetje

I love this post. I came half way but have to go to bed. Will continue tomorrow. Lots of my favourite looks.

17 Sue

I love wearing jeans, which is fine as I’m retired so don’t have to worry about dress codes. I do like a slightly smarter look though, so I enjoyed reading this article. I noticed though that the closing date for the mini challenge was yesterday! I check your articles on a regular basis so I don’t know how I missed this one – this is my Polyvore set anyway: I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled for the next one!

18 Sylvia

You did not miss it Sue and great outfit. I just mentioned the wrong date! It’s corrected now and submissions are not due until Saturday 2 May.

19 kay kerns
20 Sylvia

Great collage Kay but we’re not doing formula 2 until next week. Best to hang on to your collages and post them in subsequent weeks.

21 theresa

I love the 1 and 2 casual looks. this is how I dress for spring and summer. I have white jeans and pair them with dressier tops that have bright shots of color in them, like the white top with bright poppies up one side. and with mid wedge sandals in all colors. my aim is to look cool and sassy, At 70 my body says “girl you don’t have to look “hot”, you need to look classy,” so much better and easier.

22 Fiona

I love numbers 4 and 6. I`ll always love my leggings with short dresses or tunics. And maxi dresses make me feel so feminine.

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