As a fan of the dressier, the structured and tailored, the eccentric and avant-garde, nothing strikes me as more snooze-inducing or off putting than 'a tee and jeans'. I avoided wearing this classic American Casual pairing for decades. That's why i knew i wanted to share this look with you! This outfit isn't all that exciting, but it demonstrates how you can make a style statement you love in even the most mundane of circumstances. It's a sign of just how far down my style journey i've traveled that i can now don this outfit and feel utterly myself. What's the key?
I've narrowed it down to two key concepts. Key One: you've got to have the basics nailed. You need great fit and great aesthetic flattery. As a physically low contrast woman i chose a low contrast clothing pairing. A high contrast woman could wear a white tee with a dark wash denim for her jeans. I look better with some pattern and texture going on, thus a heather grey hoody and slightly distressed or broken in jeans highlight my looks without overpowering. The bootcut lengthens my legline while balancing my hips and saddlebags. And so on.
Especially in this day and age, the variety of basics out there is truly stunning. What's more, the variety of looks tolerated as 'in style' is huge compared to any other time in history! So figure out what makes you look great, get it, and wear it!
At this stage you'll have a flattering base, but chances are it won't feel like a finished 'look'. Time to implement Key Concept Two: think out your accessories strategy. If you're like a lot of gals, pinning a rhinestone brooch onto your Hanes tee will feel a wee bit twee. While some ladies pull this off beautifully, it's not for everyone. It also overlooks the importance of 'functional accessories' such as purses, belts, shoes, glasses, watches and earrings. You know, the kind of pieces that you wear everyday without thinking about them much. A popular school of thought on these vital wardrobe items is to buy something very basic, in a "go with everything" color so that the piece won't 'clash' no matter what you wear with it.
This strategy does work. The trouble is that while such 'classics' don't detract from your overall look, they don't add anything to it either. And when you're wearing a pared-down casual look like this one, every item has to carry it's weight if you want your personal style to come across. Now i've come around to a different viewpoint on everyday basic accessories. When i was younger and didn't have much money, i would try to get the most low-key, stay-in-the-background purse i could find. I had to use it with every outfit i wore and i didn't want it to strike a sour note. My bag never ruined an outfit, but talk about boring! Frankly, i can't even remember what any of them looked like! Nowadays i have a few different purses, each of which is pretty distinctive. Compare my pictures here which include the Isabella Fiore bag to the ones without. The bag texture, hardware, and those leather covered pyramid studs add a much-appreciated dose of excitement.
Wearing coordinating accessories in groups will also increase their style quotient. Choose pieces with prominent aesthetic qualities in common to wear together. These qualities will reinforce each other and draw the viewer's eye towards your purpose. The belt, bag, and shoes in this look don't match, but they are all dark brown distressed leather with three dimensional details (perforations, pyramid studs) and two have lots of metal. It is in fact possible to put together a few of these basic accessory groups, perhaps building on pieces you already have. One group could be a dark neutral, one a light neutral, one a bright or rich color. You can of course use these pieces with other accessories as well, but it is nice to have some planned out strategies for hectic or uninspired mornings.
What strategies, guidelines, or tips and tricks have you found useful in wearing a tee and jeans or other ultra-casual looks? Has this American Classic outfit always been a natural for you, or have you had to struggle with it as much as i have? I await your wisdom with bated breath!
Hoodie: Free People (thrifted)
Tee: Merona Ultimate Tee by Target
Jeans: Levi's curvy fit (discontinued)
Parka: L.L. Bean
Belt: DKNY (thrifted)
Shoes: vintage Ariat
Bag: Isabella Fiore (via T.J.Maxx - a great spot for deep discounts on Italian designer bags)