5 Ways for Girls To Look Dressy but Casual

Having a versatile wardrobe is important for women and girls of all ages. Having staple pieces in your and your daughter’s wardrobes that can be dressed up or down is so helpful when you need something more flexible. 

Maybe you’re traveling and your daughter is only taking a carry-on, so she needs outfits that she can dress up or down. Maybe she’s doing a presentation at school and she needs to look dressy in the morning, but comfy and casual in the afternoon without taking too many clothing items with her. No matter the reason, being able to look dressy but casual is a superpower that can be used in so many situations. Here are five easy ways for girls to look dressy but casual.

1. Sport a casual dress

Young girl wearing purple twirl dress

One of the easiest and best ways to be dressed up but casual is by wearing a dress. While many dresses are on the fancier side, if you choose a sundress or a twirl dress, it’ll give a more casual look for you or your daughter. This is mainly because of the fabric. For example, a tulle dress is more fancy because of the tulle and frill associated with that style of dress. Sun and twirl dresses tend to be a single layer of fabric, and they are usually lighter fabrics such as cotton and linen. 

So, if your daughter is in a situation where she wants to be dressed up, a dress is much more formal than pants, a skirt or leggings. Suggest that she wear a dress that is comfortable, a color she likes and something she can move in. Then help her style the dress up or down as needed to fit the circumstances.

2. Change the shoes

Shoes play a huge role when it comes to outfits. If she’s wearing a casual pair of flip-flops or sandals, her outfit will automatically look more casual. So, if her outfit is looking too formal, simply putting her in flip-flops or a less polished-looking pair of sandals will help her dress it down a bit. For a dressy casual look, stay away from running shoes, but a pair of sneakers or closed-toe flats can help take a “too dressy” outfit down a few notches. This will give the outfit a more relaxed feel.

If you want to dress up her outfit because it’s looking a little too casual (i.e., a simple dress, jeans or even shorts), consider combining her outfit with a pair of wedges, heels or thickly heeled sandals. All of these shoe choices can take casual to a dressier level.

3. Flutter sleeve shirts

Little girl wearing leopard print ruffle long sleeve

Another great way to be dressy but casual is to have a few shirts or blouses that are a little more elaborate than a basic tee. While there’s nothing wrong with a good basic tee, and they can be dressed up and down, there are other shirt styles that give a dressier vibe. 

For example, getting your daughter flutter sleeve shirts in several colors can be a great option. The shirts are not too over the top. They are simple, classy and can help you dress up jeans, shorts, leggings, pants and even skirts. They’re ideal for family pictures, special events and days when she just wants to dress up more. They can be paired with almost anything for a dressier outfit.

4. Wear black

Black has long been a color associated with classy ladies (note, every lady needs a little black dress, right?) Wearing all black or darker colors can help you look more dressy while still being comfy and casual. For example, some women and girls will sport black joggers with dressier shirts to look even more polished. You can even get away with black or gray jeans in more formal settings. Darker colors seem to signal a more dressy vibe when it comes to numerous pieces in her wardrobe.

5. Add accessories

Dressing up a casual outfit can be as simple as adding accessories. For example, if you’re wearing a basic tee and a pair of jeans, dress it up by adding a scarf, earrings, bracelets or even a necklace. If you really want to dress up a casual outfit, jewelry with pearls can do the trick.

If you don’t like jewelry or need more ideas, you can also add hair accessories such as headbands or fancy clips. In addition, you can have your daughter add a dressier belt and a fancy handbag to her outfit to make it dressier.

Putting it all together

As we’ve talked about, you can dress most outfits up and down with a few simple changes. What’s most important is feeling comfortable and loving the outfit you’re wearing. As long as your daughter loves what she’s wearing, that’s a great first step. All of the elements above can be mixed, matched and incorporated together. For example, if your daughter wears a twirl dress and wants it to look more casual, she can wear strappy sandals, a simple headband and simple jewelry.  

As another example, if she wants to look dressier in her flutter sleeve shirt, she can always opt for a darker color, pair it with black jeans or joggers, wear nicer shoes and load up on classy accessories. This will give her a polished yet casual look. Putting all of the tips together and mixing and matching them as needed will help immensely!

Times when this can be useful

Situations where it can be very useful to have outfits you can dress up and down are often when you’re quickly transitioning from one activity to another. Not having time to change can be a big factor. Another could be space.

As mentioned above, when you travel and have to pack light, having dresses, pants and tops that are used for dressy and casual occasions can really help with your space when packing. It can also be helpful if you prefer a more minimalist wardrobe. Having a few staple pieces that can be mixed, matched and changed around is critical for this wardrobe type.

So, the next time you and your daughter need to dress an outfit up or down, consider the color, accessories, shoes and types of clothing you’re wearing!