Too Formal? 9 Tips for Dressing Down an Outfit

Too Formal? 9 Tips for Dressing Down an Outfit

Posted by Dylan Bartlett on October 18, 2019
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Dylan Bartlett
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You walk into work your first day on the job in full business formal, only to feel lost among a sea of jeans and polo shirts. That’s… awkward. How can you dress down your new wardrobe to fit in with your colleagues?

Or maybe it’s date night, and you don’t know if your black dress with stilettos is over the top. How can you rock that kind of classy outfit without looking like you tried too hard? Give the following tips a try.

1. Choose Some Casual Shoes

People take notice of footwear. The right pair of shoes can change your outfit’s entire mood. Think of how celebrities like Dua Lipa rock tennis shoes with dresses in magazines.

If you want to wear a black cocktail dress, for example, add a pair of basic ballerina flats or some simple Keds. Depending on your work environment, you should also avoid overly high heels in the office. Yes, you may have the best calves in your workplace, but trying to cross a freshly waxed floor in stilettos can leave you sliding around the room like a baby deer.

2. Go With Simple, Classic Accessories

You can dress up an everyday outfit with striking accessories, and you can downgrade formal garb by selecting simple jewelry with classic style.

Select a pair of subtle pearl studs for a subtly elegant work ensemble. If you’re going directly from the office to a cocktail party, swap them out for sparkly diamond drop earrings. Don’t overdo it on jewelry — earrings and a watch or a single pendant work well.

3. Tone Down Your Makeup

Maybe you can draw a perfect, dramatic cat’s eye. When you’re heading to the club, you’re probably in high demand when it comes to doing makeup. However, such a look seems extreme in the workplace.

Stick with warm neutral tones. Sweep eyelids with a simple tan or cocoa shade. Add a touch of mascara and lip gloss. If you prefer an intense lip shade, make that your focal point. Save anything shimmery or sparkly for the evening.

4. Pair a White Dress Shirt With Leggings

An increasing number of people believe that yes, leggings are pants. And they can dress down a white business shirt in a comfortable way. For work, select an oversized button-down. Add a belt to define your waist and pair the ensemble with ballet flats.

If you’re out running errands, slip a button-down shirt over your workout gear. You’ll feel less bare and look effortlessly put together.

5. Add a Denim Accessory

A formal long-sleeved dress instantly looks more youthful and fun when you top it with a denim jacket. Is it casual Friday? Pair your favorite dress top with a pair of neatly pressed jeans.

Are you meeting your friends for lunch? Tuck a button-down shirt into a pair of cutoffs. If you have the time, you can sew on a cute hem for a country chic touch.

6. Roll Up Your Blazer Sleeves

What do you do when you’re overdressed at work but don’t have the time to run home to change? You can make a suit look less formal by rolling up the cuffs on your sleeves and pant legs.

Of course, you can always remove the jacket and toss it casually over one shoulder. If your office is super casual, you can untuck your blouse and tie a small knot in the front bottom.

7. Layer a Plain Tee Under a Fancy Shirt

If you’re headed out to a party where you don’t know the dress code, think layers. Wear a plain T-shirt underneath a fancier blouse. That way, if you arrive and feel overdone, you can remove the top layer.

Layering is a quick way to adjust to both weather changes and different settings without having to redo your entire outfit.

8. Swap Your Belt for a Fun Sash

You can make a pair of dressy trousers look less severe by removing the belt and adding a fun sash. This also allows you to add a bright dash of color to an otherwise drab outfit.

For a pulled-together look, add a scarf of similar fabric up top, too.

9. Carry a Backpack Instead of a Purse

Finally, small backpacks make any outfit look more youthful than a formal handbag, and you don’t have to worry about coordinating your purse with your ensemble. Plus, you avoid shoulder strain because backpacks distribute the weight evenly between your shoulder blades.

Most packs have individual compartments for tablets and phones. It’s much simpler than digging through mounds of tissues to find your keys.

Look Comfortably Casual for Any Occasion

Even if you turn up overdressed, you can take measures to look more relaxed. Better yet, plan in advance to look appropriate for any situation.


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Too Formal? 9 Tips for Dressing Down an Outfit

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