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Whether you're headed to a museum date, attending a friend's daytime brunch or adventuring in a new city, a dressy casual outfit will strike the perfect balance between refined and relaxed. The dress code invites you to feel comfortable, but not so much that you show up to an office party in jeans, T-shirts, and flats. When in doubt, one piece-outfits are an easy way to achieve the dressy casual vibe because they don't require much effort. A flower-print sundress or midi slip design paired with strappy sandals gives the impression that you spent more time getting dressed than you really did.
Some popular trends lend themselves to the dressy-casual theme. Festival fashion, for instance, features an array of crochet and cropped separates, fringe and jewel-embellished pieces, denim staples and eye-catching accessories. The soft girl aesthetic, meanwhile, takes a pastel approach to a wide range of dress codes. A lavender halter knit dress paired with wedge sandals or a yellow pearl button-front cardigan worn with black jeans are ideal dressy casual outfits. Elsewhere, with the pearlcore trend still going strong this summer, glam up a regular blouse or denim jacket by sewing strings of pearls onto it to deliver a more elegant look.
The secret to dressy casual is balancing the fancier pieces with more laidback items and accessories. Your favourite pair of kitten heels or your go-to beaded clutch will always help you reach new levels of chic. Flat sandals, alternatively, can pare back a dressy combo of tailored trousers and a satin blouse.
Read on to find out how to master the dressy casual way of dressing.
What is dressy casual?
Also called smart casual, dressy casual attire combines relaxed, everyday basics with more formal, office-ready items. Think wearing a silky blouse with your favourite pair of jeans, styling a festival-ready mesh-line maxi dress with flat sandals, or wearing tailored trousers with a linen shirt. Depending on your office dress code, you can get away with dressy casual looks every day. They are usually a step above jeans and graphic tees, but they aren't as formal as tweed suits or sheath dresses.
How can I style dressy casual outfits?
The key to achieving the dressy casual look? Balancing the more refined piece with an item or accessory that has a more laidback vibe. For example, a linen shorts set with strappy heels and a designer bag. Or, try pairing a chunky gold necklace with a standard cami to dress up dark denim jeans. Another brunch-ready look: a satin slip dress with flat sandals and colourful bangles. If you need more guidance, scroll on for our curated picks.