In the United States, going out in public dressed for comfort has become a national pastime. It’s not uncommon to see a herd of teenagers wandering the sidewalks in happy-colored pajama bottoms. Just recently a couple of girls who were flying on a “Buddy Pass” were denied access to a flight because they were wearing yoga pants.
It’s all about comfort for us, often at the expense of style. I am no one to preach, though. Replace pajama bottoms with pink suspenders and yoga pants with a bad perm and you have my 10th grade high school photo.
Even now, decades later, I prefer comfort over style. As I write this, I am sitting at my desk in black lounge pants and a sweatshirt. At my dressiest, though, I don’t feel timelessly elegant. That goes double when talking about my casual, everyday style.
In my mind, casual elegance can be summed up in the two photos below. Both were shot sometime in the 1930s in France. One is of a model at a beach, the other is of Coco Chanel, also at a beach.
Today’s Casual Elegance
So today we might not regularly wear long pants, pearls, and a fancy chapeau to the beach, but I do think there’s a way to create a casual elegant style that is a bit nicer than just throwing on a pair of dark jeans. For inspiration, I turned to my good friend, Diane from Fashion on the 4th Floor.
Diane has a knack for balancing casual and elegant in a modern way. Her style is never fussy but it is always refined. If she wanted to, I’m convinced she could totally pull off pearls and a fancy hat at the beach.
Below are three examples of how Diane easily combines comfort and sophistication.
Push It-Push It
Because Diane is so at home in these styles, she is opting to push herself in a different direction for her part of our collaboration. Throughout 2017, we’ve made a pact to push our boundaries and broaden our horizons through monthly partnered posts.
This month, Diane chose to follow her curiosity about glamorous versus preppy and why she feels so uncomfortable with glamour. Here’s how she stepped out of her comfort zone this month:
Diane tells me that this was a hard look for her to embrace. She doesn’t feel like herself at all. Be sure to follow your own curiosity to her website to learn why.
As Diane pushes herself to play with glamour, I pushed myself to go beyond “just casual” to “casually elegant.” My own curiosity wanted to see if I could create a casually elegant look, to at least shoot for that balance. Since having first discovered Diane’s blog over a year ago, she has been a source of encouragement and inspiration. This month, she is my muse.
For a long time I divided casual into one mental box and elegant into another. Casual was meant for day-to-day wear and could be dressed up to wear to a restaurant with Hubby. Elegance was for special occasions. For my personal style, nowhere in my definition of elegant has casual entered into the mix.
That may explain why this is a challenge for me. I like the outfit I’ve put together, but it doesn’t have the polish of the 1930s French woman on a beach or the sophistication of Chanel’s pearls and chapeau. Nor does it come together the same way Diane’s sleek styles do. It’s a work in progress.
Being the astute observers that you are, you probably already noticed I borrowed the scarf idea from the first 1930s woman at the beach and added a rumpled military-style jacket in honor of Chanel’s wrinkled trousers.
My own trousers may look like denim but they’re actually some sort of polyester/cotton blend. I got them on Thredup. They’re a little wider leg than I’m used to but, again, I wanted to try something new.
Click here to see similar pants styles.
The top, the jacket, and the scarf were all purchased last year at Nordstrom. I love the top and the jacket together but I’m not sure about the scarf. It looked better in the mirror than it does in the photos.
Ellen Degeneres’s “ED” sneakers are my favorite part of the outfit. Take a look at the adorable puppy on the side poking his head up from the rubber sole! There’s a cat version too!
Click here to check out these sneakers online.
So, I don’t feel as elegant as I was hoping, but I do have a better grasp on the next direction I want to take with this. And how happy I am to have Diane along on this journey. Not only is she the perfect muse for casual elegance, she has a knack for gently pushing me forward. She is the perfect friend for urging me toward an ever widening horizon.
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