A Woman's Useful Casual Wardrobe

Looking for a basic casual wardrobe? Here are the essential pieces that are versatile enough to provide a number of combination outfits.

Most of us have collected our wardrobes over several years' time. With some pieces handed down from family members or friends, others bought at garage sales, and still more purchased at department store sales, we have an eclectic mix of clothing items in closets and drawers.

If you want to be sure that you have the basic pieces for a contemporary trendy wardrobe, here are some of the items that you probably should not be without.

1. Start with quality jeans. Since we typically wear jeans just about everywhere outside of our jobs, from grocery store shopping to kids' soccer games and everywhere in between, jeans should fit well and reflect a flattering image. Few of us look good in baggy or skin-tight jeans. Those that drag on the ground or hang down over our hips, perhaps showing more of our backside than other people want to see, should be avoided. The classy woman chooses a pair that fit her figure. They should not pucker or be too short. Nor should they balloon over her shoes. A neat, trim look makes most women look attractive. If you can afford it, get a couple of pairs in different colors or shades, and perhaps in slightly different styles.

2. Add a casual long-sleeved shirt. Made of cotton or twill, or perhaps a synthetic fabric, a brand-name or brand-look-alike shirt goes very well with basic jeans. Wear a neat (not gaudy or lacy) camisole underneath without showing much cleavage, and you can unbutton your shirt for a casual image at the basketball game or neighbors' cookout. Or button it up, tuck it in (unless the shirt tail is meant to be left out) and you have a more traditional look for a doctor's visit or hair stylist appointment.

3. Consider an ankle-length cotton dress. Denim is a nice choice for this item, but florals or solids also look well. A lightweight cotton fabric works well for summer, perhaps with a light-weight, short-sleeved sweater or jacket. With a side slit to the knee, or a tie-behind belt, you'll have a great, comfortable look that can be semi-dressy for day wear but also suitable for evening lounging.

4. Don't forget a jacket. Denim, twill, cotton, corduroy, or another versatile fabric can be found in multiple jackets styles for all seasons. If you have a heavy winter coat and a light summer sweater, opt for a medium-weight long-sleeved jacket that buttons down the front for more choices in enhancing your look as well as keeping out the cold. Over a turtleneck, your jacket can assume a blazer look, adding a bit of dressiness to your style. Or wear it simply as a jacket, half-buttoned, with jeans and boots to finish a country image.

5. Shop for fun accessories. Coordinate matching necklaces and earrings with bracelets if you wear them. Belts go well with jeans or long dresses, if they fit the particular style of that item. Footwear adds an important dimension, such as the above-mentioned boots for winter (ankle-height works well), sandals for summer, and loafers or slip-ons for in-between times. A casual purse, or bag, can complete your ensemble to help you resemble a magazine model wearing the latest fashions.

Naturally, you will want to add more items of clothes to your wardrobe. But these make a useful starting place that, when combined in various ways, will keep you looking great for many different occasions. So head out the door and go shopping now to start collecting your new great look!

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