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Ask the expert: Tips for dressing casually


Ask the expert

Q: I am 43 and a few years back I had my “colours done” and it has changed my life – I am confident in what colours suit me and all my work clothes mix and match as I stick to the same types of colours (Winter Gems).  However, although people always comment on my clothes at work I have a problem with what to do for casual. I fall into the habit of sloppy sweatpants and t-shirts but I don’t feel good wearing this, also when going out at the weekend I always look overdressed as I either wear maxi dresses or the dresses I wear to work. Amanda

Caryn says…

Hi Amanda, I’m delighted that you feel more confident now that you have had your colours done. It’s not something I think is crucial for all women but it can help you to narrow down your choices and feel more confident to select items when you are shopping.

So it seems you have your workwear sorted and that’s great… No doubt you have a created a capsule wardrobe in solid darks that you can add different tops and accessories to.

I want you to think about your casual wear wardrobe in the same way. In fact it’s just another uniform really but this time in more textured fabrics with warmer brighter colours and even a bit of print.

A casual wear wardrobe is something you can build easily over the next few months. You can always fine-tune it but let’s start with key pieces you need.

Long chunky knitwear: whether you go for this season’s alpine motif or a more subtle cable knit or heavy yarn, your most versatile knitwear buy will be the coatigan or long cardigan. This can compliment denim or leather brilliantly and you can throw it on over anything.

Ask the expert: Outfit inspiration

Shop: Principles by Ben de Lisi Knitwear, riding boots, indigo jeans, roll neck jumpers.

Polo necks are a great for layering underneath any tunic styles and indeed your chunky cardigan; so invest in a couple of these. And pick out a fitted shirt in a print or pattern to wear on it’s own or over the polo neck.

Why not try the mohair gilet, I know Debenhams have a great style that you can wear loose or belt for a more directional look. This may be very contemporary but it is also very practical and is the perfect outer layer to be added as a final touch over tops and lightweight knits.

Now let’s talk about skirts; a denim, A line skirt or pencil skirt is a classic style which will have great longevity. Make sure it is dark indigo denim without any fashion touches like distressed finishes. The leather skirt has been popular too – there are some great tan/chocolate or mink colours to choose from. Finally there is nothing to stop you wearing the maxi skirt or dress either, it’s all about compatible tones and pulling everything together – the gilet would be perfect here! Or even a cape style as a final touch if you dare!

Don’t forget a good pair of denim jeans; again dark indigo denim is preferable. Skinny are still popular and bootleg will always be a classic. When you wear them with your chunky cardigan you’ll have an instant fashion fix.

Finally a pair of knee-high riding boots will be really versatile. Go for brown rather than black as this tone will complement the indigos and browns you’ve already chosen.

Finally add some colour… luxurious oblong scarves that tie round the neck and hang down the front of your body are a great way to add a splash of brightness to your neutrals.

A bag in a brighter colour also can be another way to bring in a touch of playfulness and if you are feeling really confident then coloured legwear will also give fashion forward finish.

Have fun.


Ask the expert: outfit inspiration

Shop: Gilets, denim skirts, purple bags, Phase Eight knitwear

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