You’ve been invited to a party. The invitation calls for dressy casual. You have both dressy outfits and casual outfits in your closet but how do you mix the two?
Would you be surprised if I suggested you start with jeans? Jeans aren’t right for every occasion, but with some fashion finesse, you can make them party ready.
Pretend I’m in your closet right now. Using your jeans as a base, I’m going to help you look through your tops, jackets, jewelry, shoes, and handbags for ingredients that will make you party-ready.
When you see your wardrobe through my eyes, you’ll be surprised at how ready you can be when that friend of yours calls and says, “I’m going to a dressy casual event tonight. Would you be my plus-one?”
It all starts with the right jeans
Here are some general rules for the best jeans to use as your casual chic or elegant casual outfit.
1. The darker the denim, the more dressy and formal it is, which works well with the fancier items you’ll be wearing on top.
2. If your party leans more to casual than elegant and you love jeans that are distressed in some way—holes or fading—plan to wear a dressy shoe.
3. High-rise jeans are a great base. They’ll look great with any fanciful top or jacket.
4. You could start with a denim jean that is coated, so it takes on a different hue. Or consider a jean with some elegant embroidery.
5. Beware: dark indigo jeans can discolor lighter-colored leather handbags. Pay close attention to your handbag selection for the night. They can also stain any part of a lighter-colored bootie that they come into contact with.
Find unique jackets in your closet
Now let’s get to what you’re wearing on top. Jackets can play a crucial 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.
This list of jacket styles will love to dress up your denim.
1. Blazers in velvet, leather, lace or jacquard prints
2. A tuxedo jacket
3. Knit or woven jackets with fur trim
4. Statement pieces like kimonos, dusters, Asian-inspired jackets
Tops that are just right for going out
Look at your tops through a ‘dressed up casual’ lens. Do you spot tops that you may have worn in other parts of your life, but that would look well accessorized for denim outfits?
Here are some looks to consider.
1. Blouses with statement sleeves like ruffles, ties, pleats, or ribbons
2. Romantic blouses with lace, leather trim or velvet
3. A knit or woven or top in a bold, bright print
4. A sheer print top with a camisole
5. A sweater with pearl or sequined details, or a cashmere sweater that is delicate or feminine
Jewelry selection is a must
If you’re wearing simple clothing pieces, then your jewelry choices will lift your outfit into a dressy casual party scene. Go beyond your tried-and-true everyday pieces. Consider vintage or crystal jewelry or any of your fine jewelry like diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and pearls.
If you’re wearing tops that are already sequined or jeweled, then your jewelry may need to back off a little.
Here are some ideas for using accessories to make your outfit sparkle and shine.
1. Chandelier earrings or dangly earrings
2. Statement necklaces or double or triple layered chokers
3. A sparkly brooch or a collection of pins worn together
4. Bold cocktail rings
5. Cuffs or layered bangles that have lots of shimmer and shine
6. Mixing in fine jewelry with costume jewelry
Shoes matter, both functionally and fashionably
You may have shoes in your closet that will only work if you’re sitting at a table, rather than standing at a table all night. Be careful. Know with a two-hour shoe will work or whether or not you need to wear a shoe that you can dance in all night long.
Here are some shoe choices for nightlife.
1. High heels or kitten-heeled pumps in patent leather, exciting colors, or fabrics
2. Comfortable flats that have fanciful details like bows, sequins, ribbons, or applique
3. Metallic flats or booties
4. Velvet slippers, flats or booties
5. Heeled sandals
Handbags need to be a lot more special than your work bag
For many gatherings, the purse you choose only needs to hold your lipstick, a credit card, some cash, 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 handbag selections for your jean party outfit.
1. Smaller crossbody bag with chain straps
2. Fabric bags made with beautiful tapestry or damask fabrics
3. Small framed bags including vintage bags
4. A small handbag in an intense color or a metallic
5. Hard, rather than soft, clutch in faux reptile
Could you use a few fancy casual denim outfits in your wardrobe?
I’d love to help you assemble them, so you are party ready at any moment. Or maybe you’ve realized some gaps in the “party department” of your wardrobe.
Call me! 425-868-1816 OR connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org