Dressy casual seems like an oxymoron. You see it on an invitation or your hostess tells you oh, it’s casual but wear what you want! Sheesh, that is no help at all. Austin is all about casual so here are some real solutions to the dressy casual dress code.
Don’t feel like you have to run right out and get a new outfit. You may be able to create a dressy casual outfit for parties, dates and get togethers with friends by starting with a pair of jeans that reflect your personal style and are already in your closet.
With a smart jean style as your base, an evening top and/or jacket, great jewelry and trendy shoes you will show everyone that you know what cool is all about.
Here are some general rules for the best jeans to use as your casual chic or casual elegant outfit.
- The darker the denim, the more dressy and formal it is which works well with the fancier items you’ll be wearing on top. The exception is winter white which is an attention-getting option too.
- If your party leans more to casual than elegant and you love jeans that are distressed in some way, plan to wear a dressy shoe that has some edge to it.
- Start with a high-rise jeans if you have a defined waistline. High-rise jeans look great with a cropped festive jacket.
- Go beyond the classic denim and consider jeans in a different material like leather jeans, coated jeans, or velvet jeans. If the pants read “dressy” than you can make the top half of your outfit more clean cut and simple.
- Beware that dark indigo jeans can discolor lighter-colored leather handbags. Pay close attention to your handbag selection for the night.
Now let’s get to what you’re wearing on top. Jackets can play a key role in dressing up jeans. Leave your work jackets out of the mix for now. Focus on more festive choices and think outside the box. Here’s a list that will get you started.
Jacket styles for dressing up jeans
- A patterned duster
- A sheer flowy duster
- A bejeweled wrap sweater that crisscrosses and ties at the waist
- A lace poncho or silk poncho
- A velvet Chinese jacket
- Heavily embroidered jackets
- Fur trimmed knit jackets
- Vintage bed jackets
A top or blouse can be a fanciful choice for your jeans as well. If you’re lacking in this department, you might want to go on a shopping trip and only focus on this type of item. We don’t often see them on the racks when we’re shopping for casual or work outfits. Being super focused on this option could lead you to some great choices. Here are some tips for choosing and styling tops.
Tips on tops for your casual-fancy occasion
- Sleek silk, black collared blouses with ribbon trim
- Leather tops with cut out details (any color)
- Lace tops that are sleeveless or with long sleeves
- Tops or sweaters with metallic threads running through them
- Graceful asymmetrical tops
- Tops or blouses that have lace, leather, or both lace and leather details
- Romantic blouses with exaggerated cuff details such as pleating
- Blouses with statement sleeves
- Dramatic or bold print tops or sweaters
- Sequined tops
- Sheer print tops with a camisole underneath
- Cashmere sweaters that are delicate and feminine
If you’re wearing a simple outfit then your jewelry needs to do the heavy lifting to put your outfit into the social setting of a dressy casual party. If you’re wearing lots of sequins in tops or jackets, your jewelry may need to back off a little. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be special!
Here are some ideas for using accessories to make your outfit sparkle and shine.
Jewelry choices for parties
- Costume statement necklaces with lots of bling-wear more than one!
- Big and bold cocktail rings
- Fine jewelry like diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and pearls, pile it on
- Layers of fine chains that shine
- Brooches that sparkle brightly
- Stacks of rings on one finger
- Stacks of sparkly cuffs or bangles
- Chandelier earrings
- Dressy pendants
- Crystal jewelry
- Vintage jewelry
What will you wear on your feet? There are many possibilities from shoes that only feel comfortable for 20 minutes, to two hours, to shoes you can dance in all night. Here are some ideas. Choose wisely, if you feet hurt it shows in your expression. It would be a bummer to leave a party because of your feet. I say this from experience.
Shoe choices for nightlife
- Kitten heel pumps
- Pumps or flats that are sequined and very sparkly
- Comfortable flats with details like silk tassels, appliques, ribbons and bows
- Fanciful shoe accessories that clip on to your plain flats
- Velvet slipper shoes
- Heeled sandals
- High heeled pumps
- Velvet booties
- Metallic booties
- Over the knee suede boots with pointy toes
Don’t use your work handbag. For most gatherings the handbag you choose only needs to hold your lipstick, a credit card, some cash, keys and your smartphone. You may have cocktail handbags that you’ve used for years. I encourage you to take a closer look at them this year. Do they still look viable or does yours need an update? Here are some ideas for you.
Handbag selections for your jean party outfit
- Colorful or patterned clutches
- Smaller purses with chain straps
- Fabric bags made with beautiful tapestry or damask fabrics
- Small woven leather bags in metallic tones
- Small-framed bags (many styles are being shown this season)
- Vintage bags
- Bags with pops of bold color
Could you use a few dressy casual outfits in your wardrobe? I’d love to help you assemble them so you are party-ready at any moment. Call me and we’ll talk!