How to dress up casual clothes

How to dress up casual clothes

Happy Monday, ladies!  Welcome to a discussion today of how to dress up casual clothes.

Yesterday, I started another talk about using five style adjectives in retirement and today I continue it with how to dress up casual clothes.

I there are times in our 60s, 70s, and beyond when we want to take our casual wardrobe to another level.

It might be to meet a friend for lunch; attend a non-profit planning meeting; go to church; go shopping; well, there are many times we may want to look our casual best.


How to dress up casual clothes

Here is an outfit I will wear for many of those occasions.

It speaks to my style adjectives:

  1. Polished – a great jacket will polish off just about any look and dress up any denim
  2. Creative – I have added my creativity with the scarf and the bracelet
  3. Current – the jacket is purchased from a summer 2022 collection and the white denim is distressed on the bottom for a current touch
  4. Approachable – the bright colors and accessories give me a smile and hopefully say that I am friendly
  5. Joyful – the overall look in my colors and in my adjectives helps me to go out with a confident smile on my face.

I am a vibrant autumn, and I plan to wear this Montauk Twill Jacket in the Bright Papaya color all year long.   The sleeves come down nicely and will work a long time in our warmer climate.

I watched this jacket from the moment it hit the floors and knew I would need a sale price to own it.  

One of the reasons I believe it is in the Talbot’s Sale is because it does fit smaller…the fit across the shoulders can be tight.

If I had purchased at full price, it would now be too big, but since I have lost weight over the summer, it fits well. 

One of the sales associates at Chico’s recently told me to be very careful about purchases during weight loss…it is a good warning.

There are many places I will wear a look like this one…even though I am no longer in the professional office life.

I dressed up casual clothes here with a jacket, fun accessories, and nice shoes (not sneakers).

If you feel the need to dress up casual clothes more, then go for a nice pair of pants instead of denim.


how to dress up casual clothes

As I said yesterday, when we use our style adjectives and our colors to build a wardrobe, then it all works together.

It is easy to dress up casual clothes because the pieces are right there waiting for you to create outfits.

This jacket will go with my blue denim, blue pants, brown pants, olive green, and tan pants…it all works together.

I have worn many dresses this summer because of the excessive heat; however, I much prefer a wardrobe of separates.

Maybe that is my creativity kicking in and love of playing with my clothes!

I personally believe a successful casual wardrobe is 98% separates which work together as a family should.

Here is another plus for using the five style adjectives to dress up casual clothes:

There are many professional stylists who look at my crazy, curly hair (bigger right now, this is salon week); my curvy body; and my preferred colors and say that I am bohemian.

Bohemian style, quite honestly, is difficult to dress up and just did not feel like me.

But, I am borrowing the creativity of bohemian and giving it the polish of a huntswoman with my style adjectives. 

I tried once to just dress classic style when I was in the workforce….sorry, it was not me…though it is amazing on so many women.

Be very careful of being shoved into a box or category based on certain physical attributes.

Be Uniquely You…what do you want to tell the world about you with your clothing?  It is your first impression with any one….your calling card.

Today’s slideshow features pieces which would be helpful to dress up casual clothes…and I was careful to select mostly pieces on sale:

Please share…how do you dress up casual clothes and for what purposes do you do this most often?

We would love to hear your thoughts…..and then, of course, always…..


By Pamela Lutrell


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dress up casual clothes





  1. This is a great topic for everyone, retired or not, because this dressing up of casual clothes is something we all need at times. I do this for running errands and meeting friends for breakfast or lunch. As you say, it’s easy to do when you know your message and if you have a workable wardrobe. I do consider dresses as separates, because you can take a solid color dress and add a topper and use the same process you would with pants. Shoes are a consideration as you pointed out. Changing into a dressier shoe can quickly elevate a look, usually! It’s nice dressing up casual looks for those of us who struggle a little with transitioning to a much more casual lifestyle.

  2. Thanks for a new way to look at dresses, Karen. For now, I see them in my summer wardrobe more than anything…but they are very easy! Happy Monday!

  3. I elevate a casual outfit with jewelry usually by adding a bracelet, earrings, rings and a necklace. Maybe not all at the same time but usually a combo. After I retired I took a deep dive into my jewelry drawer and organized years of items I had been given or purchased. I found many items I had completely forgotten about. Adding some unique or unusual necklace and/or bracelet adds something extra to a plain white or denim shirt.

  4. You make it all so easy. Abd, you look beautiful doing it! All weekend we had a fest index bear 100 and very humid. Never had a summer like this! Today 100-104 factoring in that high humidity. I looked horrible/ frizzy frazzled hair which is normally straight (looked like I had a perm? Lol) but not near lookibg like your curls. May I ask what products you use once your hair curls and gets frizzy? I used Smoothing shampoo and leave in conditioner plus anti frizz serum but
    it didn’t work for me. I think I need a couple more silky Ruanas. My goal today! Thank you Pam!

  5. Your hair is like a luxury gift and I -love- it natural. I always thought if you were bohemian, you were a very pared down one. I came out a huntswoman, a name that makes me giggle for some reason and certainly doesn’t “go” with my own curvy body. While I’ve seen the transformative power of color, I don’t see the logic behind basically using your body shape and physical characteristics to define your inherent style preference into one or two categories. To me, that’s just a label. While a silhouette matters a lot in dressing a particularly shaped body, it doesn’t define our personalities or uniqueness. You are on it with the foundational five. Of all my 5, only maybe “casual” has any direct relationship to fashion. Yet it works!

  6. I am a big believer in dressing each morning prepared to run into anyone at all, from former students to old colleagues or friends. In a small town, there’s always the possibility of a chance encounter. My usual outfit consists of pants, a blouse, and a lightweight cardigan in warm seasons, and either a heavier sweater or blazer/jacket in fall, or vest and scarf in the coldest of winter. I keep my accessories to a minimum: watch and bracelet, earrings, wedding set.

  7. I really tried to be open minded and embrace the style labels, but it just did not work for me. I was tempted to purchase clothing I knew was not me. The adjectives help me to nail it and be me. They do work! Thanks on the hair…it is way easier than before!

  8. Thanks for sharing that Connie…more and more I wish I lived in a smaller town. Things are really growing down here.

  9. I like to add a third piece, like a jacket, to dress up a casual outfit. Great for church or a dinner out. It’s fun to add a pop of unexpected color, too, like a hot pink jacket over a column of navy. And…I’m hearing sweater vests are trending for Fall. Can’t wait to try this. Pam, you are looking fabulous, by the way!

  10. Thank you, Marcia…you are so sweet…and I have heard the same about vests for fall!

  11. Thank you, Pam, for the timely reminders. I agree with your readers on many comments. A new season is around the corner and it is my favorite as a deep autumn. I, too, like to change my accessories to dress simple pieces up and down. I bought a few new pairs of summer sandals this year, and I have had fun changing the vibe of a simple outfit from more relaxed and natural to dramatic to polished, all starting with the shoe that I choose. Then I find it easy to pick a bracelet and earrings to go with that vibe. I know that in retirement I tend towards natural classic, but I love to play with other looks. I like variety. In this coastal neighborhood, summer is a busy time for company and drop ins. I always like to be my best, and enjoy my five adjectives! I have been really enjoying your posts.

  12. A jacket or cardigan is a great way to dress up a casual look, & accessories, including shoes, can help step up the look. I have learned not to stray too far from my classic style because that is who I am. There are things that I admire on others, like moto jackets & kimonos, that make me feel like I am in a costume. I’m interested to see what the sweater vest trend looks like. I used to wear them years ago. It might be a trend that I would be willing to revisit. I’ve tried a puffer vest, but for some reason, it made me feel like Bim the Michelin tire man. Obviously, that is not a message I wish to send.

  13. It is good that you know exactly the message you want to send with your style, Becky and that you are sticking to it. Good job!

  14. Boy, oy boy! Did this post ever resonate with me. I am a wife, retired, a dedicated homemaker, a grandmother, and 70 years old. I have been having a difficult time shopping and dressing since I no longer need to be “dressed up” for work. I have purchased too many dressier garments that I love, but have very little use for. The idea of “dressed up casual” is something that gives me such a direction, for a more intentional way to shop and dress. For the first time in many years, I have a goal with which to organize my closet, not just changing styles or wrong fit. I will now work to choose my 5 style adjectives. Truly, this post has quenched my long parched creativity, thank you, thank you!

  15. I think your post today is helpful for many women. I am still working but the dress code has certainly changed over the past several years. Things are much more relaxed, but I still want to look professional. Most days I’ll wear casual pants or dressy jeans, a blouse/sweater and some type of jacket. I have a lot of accessories — mostly scarves — which help keep my outfits fun and creative. I also find that I regularly change my adjectives — I guess my style is a constant work in progress.

  16. You are not alone with that Beth. As many of us transition to new phases of life we are tweaking and working with our adjectives to get them just right. You will get there. I am actually wearing my scarves more since I left the professional office life and love having them back!

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