Casual chic mixes relaxed pieces with polished, feminine touches. This look is about dressing and feeling comfortable and sophisticated. For women, casual chic apparel can be appropriate attire for an array of occasions, from a business lunch to a dinner party to shopping at the farmers market on a Saturday morning. With today’s high-low trends and couture designers creating affordable fashions for wallet-friendly retailers like Target and H&M, dressing casually chic doesn’t have to break the bank.


Arguably the grandmother of casual chic, Coco Chanel brought menswear-inspired fashions and the little black dress to the masses. She championed bell-bottoms, tailored suit jackets, short skirts and jersey dresses—a fashion first.


Chanel’s casual, comfortable fashions liberated women from the corset styles of earlier decades and can teach today’s forward-thinking women a thing or two about casual chic dressing. First, invest in the basics: a little black dress, a tailored jacket, menswear-influenced trousers and a crisp, white button-down. Don’t be afraid to mix these staples with pretty accessories: playful, bright-hued tights with a little black dress, chunky wedge heels with jeans or a row of Moroccan bangles with a white button-down blouse.


Dark denim tops the list of au courant casual chic essentials. Fashionistas prizing style and comfort should own a skinny pair and a boot-cut pair. Wear the former with a long cardigan and stilettos and the latter with loose-fitting floral blouses.

Other Essentials

Jersey dresses are another must—these can be dressed down with casual sandals or motorcycle boots. Wear soft cotton T-shirts with jeans and dressed up with big necklaces or a man’s watch and a scarf, which is another casual chic essential. Scarves are functional—they keep us warm—and they can add a burst of color to a white T-shirt and jeans or make a long, flowing dress look errand-running appropriate. Finally, ballet flats fall into the comfortable category. And whether they’re black and worn with capris like Audrey Hepburn or red and paired with skinny jeans and a long cardigan, they’re also chic.


Still need help dressing casual chic? Look to the stars for guidance. For polish and poise, think Jessica Alba’s oversized sunglasses, black scarf, plaid shirt and skinny jeans paired with a red hobo and ballet flats. For a stroll along the beach or a Saturday morning shopping trip, try a long, flowing sundress paired with casual sandals and a wool scarf to channel Nicole Richie’s understated glamor.