Casual chic is the paradoxical term for looking put-together without being overdone. Mastering this elusive look is all about zeroing in on a few key pieces that work to turn a simple outfit into something smashing but low key. Nail your own version of casual chic for your next summer party, Friday work meeting or lunch with the girls.

Begin With Basics


Stock your closet with a pair of boyfriend or skinny jeans, well-fitted cotton-blend T-shirts, black leggings and a white or chambray button-down shirt. Each item is sufficiently casual and basic enough to be a building block of a pulled-together ensemble. Pay attention to tailoring and fit and aim for quality pieces that will hold up over time; you will wear these pieces again and again.

Strategic Add-Ons


Top basic clothing items with a variety of different layers. A simple tee or tank goes from just plain casual to casual chic with the addition of a blazer, cardigan or vest. Rock a comfy pair of dark leggings with a boyfriend tank top and long off-the-shoulder sweater or layer on a military-style jacket over a gray T-shirt and jeans to punch up the look.

Shoe Savvy


A well-chosen pair of shoes elevates any look. Instead of flip flops or running shoes, slide into ballet flats, oxfords or stylish canvas slip-ons. If the activity allows for it, pair your skinny jeans with heels -- wedges, wood heels or stacked-heel ankle booties walk the line between relaxed and polished.

Incorporate a Trend


Casual looks rely on timeless classics, such as a trusty button-down or denim jacket, but they become casual chic the second a trend is added. Target one hot seasonal element -- think animal prints, colorblocking, textured fabric or whatever came straight off the runway -- and work that item into an otherwise simple ensemble.

Always Accesorize


The most relaxed outfit goes from humdrum to fashionable with the right accessories. Hats, metallic cuffs, bangles, cocktail rings and eye-catching necklaces inject color and style into your most basic basics -- just don’t wear them all at once. Rock a white tee and boyfriend jeans with a printed scarf, hoop earrings and leather satchel for a look that’s both sophisticated and casual cool.

About the Author

Stacey Kole

Stacey Kole was managing editor of the International fashion and beauty publication Savvy where she penned stories on all things beauty and style, while writing cover stories on such celebrities as Victoria Hudgens and Julianne Hough. She continues to write for a variety of online fashion, beauty and health publications.