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7 Ways to Make the Jump from Frump to Casual Chic

It’s dress down week at my job and I know what that means–drabby, uninspired, frumpy get ups for the next five days.  I don’t really talk about my blog at my job (politics and perception…), so I don’t expect any of of the people who could really use this advice to read it.  However, for those of you who landed on this post via google or bing or other women who read my blog because they can identify with the journey of my evolving style, then this one is for you.  Before I get into how you can make the jump from frump I guess I should tell you why my firm is going casual.  It’s for a good cause to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer awareness.

Ok, so here are 7 ways to make the jump from frump to casual chic.

1) Get your hair done.  It sounds like really simple advice, but I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. There are some people who don’t realize that messy hair, like black shoes (my mother’s fashion advice) can really kill an outfit.

2) Consider it a privilege if you are allowed to wear denim to work because even in the midst of this evolution of office wear, some companies still wont get with the times.  If you are allowed to wear denim, go for the dark wash and black (yes, they do exist) denim in lieu of the lighter colored stone or acid wash.  Darker denim looks more office appropriate and formal to me (if there is such a thing as formal denim). Also make sure the cut of the pants is modern (leave those frumpy Mommy jeans where they belong, in the past) and is appropriate for your body type.

3) Switch out the sneakers for flats or heels.  Yes, I know they have those really cute wedge sneakers on the market now and maybe perhaps those would look more appropriate than the ugly gym/workout sneakers. But heels (not the granny ones) is a great way to take your frumpy getup to casual chic.

4) In lieu of the expected t-shirt, pick a dressier top.  If you must wear a t-shirt  go for a more fitted one that is flattering to your body type.  For example, I know that a v-neck fitted t-shirt works better on my body (three letters… 36D) than a scoop neck.

5) Add a statement necklace, especially if you have long hair.   It’s an unexpected piece that brings drama to any outfit.

6) Add print or texture. Most of my outfits have a tried and proven formula (print + color + neutral = fab) and I have found that this also works for casual outfits.

7) In the words of Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear, always add a completer piece to help pull the outfit together.  This can be a blazer, vest, belt or scarf.  My favorite completer piece are blazers.  For my fellow budget shoppers, you all know that blazers are not on the low side of “affordable”.  Most of my blazers are honestly left over from years ago when 2-piece suits was required work attire, I inherited a few (I knew someone that worked at a major retailer and inherited a lot when they closed), and I have thrifted a few (there is nothing that  good dry cleaner can’t fix).

Here are five examples of how I made the jump from frump all featuring one base piece, my Old Navy indigo blue jeans.  These are all outfits that were posted at various times on my blog between September 2011 and March of 2012.

I am wearing my indigo blue Old Navy jeans paired with emerald green silk blouse, leopard printed lace-up oxford shoes and accessorized with statement necklace and bangles.


This is the same exact outfit from the picture above, except I added this textured blazer to the outfit and switched the shoes for these cream Jessica Simpson pumps.


For this outfit, I decided to wear this chevron printed top with a cream suit jacket and accessorized with white and gold statement guess watch and cream Jessica Simpson pumps.


For this outfit I paired the same Old Navy denim with a cream suit filler blouse under a green thrifted jacket. I accessorized with this Sorrelli necklace and mint platform pumps from JustFab.


In this outfit I wore the the Old Navy denim with a white scoop neck t-shirt and a black double breasted blazer. I went for this very bold necklace and matching bracelet and earrings. This is the only time that you will EVER see me in eye-shadow, btw.

Please feel free to share your own advice on how women can make the jump from frump in the comments below.

 XoXo, Natasha

About Natasha Samuels

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  1. Thank you for the advice! Your casual looks certainly don’t look frumpy! They are super stylish and you look fantastic! I was going to say the look that paired the green tee with the printed white and green blazer was my favorite, but then I saw the look that followed that… You get the idea. : ) This is definitely a post I’ll be “Pinning.”

    I’m in college, so although my situation is not quite the same, I certainly understand the difficulties in taking casual looks from boring to chic and distinctive. If I’m wearing jeans, I’m almost guaranteed to look, hopefuly not sloppy but definitely casual (and certainly boring, at least, I hope, in the style department)–a dark wash jean, some T-shirt, flats, maybe the Regent’s Park College sweatshirt I got during my year there at Oxford. Blah. That’s why I really like your looks here. I imagine they would help you stand out in an office environment that’s going temporarily casual, because in addition to being awesome, they say (at least to me) “even though I’m involved in this casual-for-breast-cancer event, I still care about how I look and I care about my work here.”

    • Thanks Mere for your wonderful comments. When I was in college, sweatshirts and jeans (aka the sloppy look) was my uniform. Thank goodness my academics was what counted when I asked for recommendations from my professors, but hey you never know what else (i.e. how you present yourself) can make you stand out. If you don’t have one already, even if you get it from your Mom’s closet or a thrift store, I would definitely add one blazer to your wardrobe. It really changes your entire outfit. Also as long as you do flats and not sneakers or flip flops you should be ok. (-:

      • You’re welcome, and thank you. : ) I should say, when I went to weekly tutorials at Oxford, I dressed up, because I felt like it was a good way to demonstrate respect to the professors. One day I’ll have to get over my aversion to blazers. 😛

  2. I love love love the first pic. Great tips!
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  3. Fab tips! You’re so right, by adding a texture or print to a simple outfit you really are able to make the look interesting and much more chic! <3

  4. Really great tips. I need to work on the hair part.

  5. Great advice and you look wonderful as usual!!! I look forward to reading your blog and seeing what you’re wearing. BTW, LOVE the animal print shoes!!!!!!!!!

  6. Great tips, we are only allowed to dress down on Fridays. I usually end up wearing jeans and a blazer with heels. However I have been known to wear a maxi dress, sneakers aka Jordans or colored denim. I try not to step out of the norm too much on casual Friday but I do like to showcase my other sides aka my non-business side.
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  7. This is some great advice and spectacular photos and looks Natasha!