Comfortable style: refined casual - une femme d'un certain âge

Style on the other side

A refined casual look with gold earrings, sweater, jeans, snake print loafers, Tory Burch Lee Radziwill shoulder bag and sweater coat. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

When we finally emerge from these months of “hibernation,” what will we want to wear? That’s a question I’ve spent no small amount of time noodling since last Spring.

earrings | bag | loafers | sweater | jeans | bandana | sweater coat

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There’s no question that (small-f) fashion and style have been moving in a more casual, relaxed direction over the last several years. Will months of working from home, limits on social activities and travel, and other lifestyle adjustments due to Covid bolster or even accelerate that trend? Or will we have a wave of nostalgia for “dressing up” and look for excuses to do so?

I suspect the answer will be “both” and lots of ground in-between. The only predictions I’m making are that a) physical comfort will remain paramount, and b) sneakers will continue to dominate the footwear market.

Adding refinement to a stay-at-home outfit

Personally, I like getting dressed and feeling put-together, even at home. It’s a way of pushing back against entropy, and helps me to feel “present and accounted for.” Even if it’s just jeans, a sweater, a piece or two of my favorite jewelry, and some fragrance.

Top image: you can easily add some polish and refinement to an at-home outfit without giving up comfort. Just add structured a bag, and collared sweater blazer. Keep the sneakers, or swap out for a comfortable pair of loafers or oxfords.

Wear now, wear later favorites

athleta brooklyn pants | ag prima jeans | cashmere crewneck | slip-on sneakers

How about you? Have you made changes to your wardrobe that will carry through once normal life resumes?

Stay in touch.

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  1. Candy
    February 3, 2021 / 5:26 am

    I agree with you Susan about wearing more of an outfit, with a little jewelry (and maybe even some lipstick!) — it makes me feel more ready for the day and focused. I also want to recommend a new, at least to me, place to buy nice quality, reasonably priced cashmere sweaters. Here’s the link:
    They’ve marked down classic styles like crewneck and v-neck to around $50. They also have nice sweats, for those not quite ready to give up those comfy pants entirely. I got a beautiful, soft Quince v-neck black cashmere that is in regular rotation. I launder it and my other cashmere using The Laundress’ wool and cashmere shampoo, which I think I read about on your site. It is great for keeping sweaters in good condition and smelling good.

    • Lee Rosenthall
      February 3, 2021 / 9:51 am

      Thanks for the link. Definitely going to give them a closer look. Their leather goods look great too.

  2. Kelly
    February 3, 2021 / 5:34 am

    I’m not really a leggings or sweatpants kind of girl either. I’ve been in jeans and a nice sweater with Vans all winter. Before Covid I’d say my style was business casual. Now I feel overdressed in that look when I’m out. I do hope we can go back to “the old normal” in the future but if people continue to work from home after the pandemic I think it will be a slow change.

  3. Linda Simpson
    February 3, 2021 / 6:14 am

    Like you, I prefer a sweater, jeans, loafers, and either a scarf or necklace to finish my look. As the weather has gotten colder here in Missouri, I add a cardigan to the look around the house. I only put on sweats or workout clothes for cleaning the house. Then I get cleaned up and put on the aforementioned uniform. I have never been a too casual dresser, even when I was younger.

  4. Cee
    February 3, 2021 / 6:30 am

    I have the cardigan and couldn’t resist the shoes. At 40% off the sale price today, they were a bargain. Thanks for finding them for me!

    • Téa
      February 3, 2021 / 7:58 am

      YES! I’m culling the clothing that does not FEEL good! If I FEEL good, I can weather most anything! ALSO, I’ve instituted “house shoes” – not slippers, but ergonomically supportive shoes that allow me to run up and down the stairs all day long, as that’s a big part of my daily “steps” now that the streets are covered in snow…I swap them out when I have to go out. Same with my coziest, comfiest, fluffiest cardigan…I’ve turned into Mr. Rogers, and I’m o.k. with that!

  5. Eileen
    February 3, 2021 / 6:59 am

    I am not much of a lounge wear person, I am a personal trainer and wear a lot of exercise clothes, so I want more “ real clothes” on my time off. I don’t work at home either, I’m out exercising in all manners of weather right now, so warm and waterproof are my needs in the winter. I’m outside 2-3 hours every day, 30-50 degrees, I’ve bought and worn more winter clothes than ever this past year, down puffers are saving the day!

  6. Debra
    February 3, 2021 / 7:04 am

    I have all of these work clothes in my closet and I wear them, but nothing is too fancy as I teach. So, on weekdays, I might wear a pair of wool pants and a sweater like I used to; that has not changed. However, I have not worn leather shoes in a long time and now have quite a nice collection of sneakers. I think I will continue to wear these once I go back to campus! Thus no more hard shoes – my 60-year-old feet will thank me for that.

  7. Eve
    February 3, 2021 / 7:34 am

    Ive started wearing looser but not sloppy clothes and don’t think I’ll go back to fitted. I live a casual life with no “events” anymore so it fits my lifestyle to go casual anyway. I haven’t worn many sneakers although I have some, I’ve rediscovered moccasins and loafers. I also have found a new love for scarves. Since I Columbia dress a lot, a scarf is casual but still kicks an outfit up a notch. I just can’t wear jewelry around the house. I’m always getting it tangled up since I only really love long statement necklaces. No bracelets or earrings.

  8. Linda
    February 3, 2021 / 8:27 am

    I think at least for a while I would like to dress up some to go ANYWHERE, just for fun!

  9. Vive
    February 3, 2021 / 8:54 am

    Susan, I’m wondering if you have that J Crew crewneck sweater, and if so, in what size. I’m just a wee bit bigger than you, so I generally go for your size or a size up when you list the sizes. Thanks!

    • Susan Blakey
      February 3, 2021 / 9:33 am

      Hi Vive, yes I do. I wear a Small, which is neither a snug nor oversized fit on me.

      • Vive
        February 3, 2021 / 10:07 am

        Thank you. I ordered one in Small hoping to layer it and one in Medium that might have a bit more drape.

  10. Lee Rosenthall
    February 3, 2021 / 9:11 am

    Love, love, LOVE the proposed outfit – both the color combination and the individual items. Well done!

  11. Wendelah
    February 3, 2021 / 9:48 am

    I’ve been dressing casually at home since forever. Because I wore scrubs and running shoes at work, I didn’t need to buy a new wardrobe for retirement. I’d wear a dress and nice, flat shoes or boots if we were heading for a concert or the opera. I miss that.

    I’ve never worn much makeup at home or work but even lipstick seems problematic. I’ve switched to lip balm and moisturizer to avoid staining my masks.

    Because of the new, more contagious strains, I’ve been preoccupied with finding masks that actually fit. My face is oddly shaped plus I wear glasses. The bendable nose piece is supposed to help but it doesn’t. I just got a cotton mask with ties, as opposed to ear loops, from Etsy. We’ll see how that works out.

  12. Kathie
    February 3, 2021 / 10:29 am

    Love the term”refined casual” to describe a style. It fits me. I only wear my leggings for yoga. Otherwise its jeans or maybe cords in the winter with a sweater or a light layer and a cardi or soft jacket. Its cold here so boots are in order. I put on makeup and jewelry, maybe add a scarf. I feel better when I am put together and my husband appreciates it. Color factors big, especially in the winter. I have purged my closet of colors that are not in my palette and feel happier to be wearing color that give me a boost.

  13. Wren
    February 3, 2021 / 10:48 am

    Today was a big event for me- shopping at Trader Joe’s during (ahem) senior hour. Having just read Susan’s post, I was inspired to get out some loafers I have saved from decades ago. These were Cole Haan and I also have Gucci and Tods which I could never part with. I felt very preppy in cashmere turtleneck, dark jeans and jacket. That’s getting dressed up for me since I’ll admit to wearing workout clothes most of the time at home. I have found some cute pieces by Joy Lab at Target, especially their leggings. I want comfort but not sloppy. Always lipstick and fragrance!

  14. Ainsivalavie
    February 3, 2021 / 1:25 pm

    Cashmere or fleece tunics that cover my bum and very thick black Spanx leggings, sometimes the pleather version. I hate jeans and trousers never found them very comfortable but I do wear ankle pants ( avoid capris like the plague) in the summer or longer dresses. I am on the floor a lot with my grandsons so fussy jewelry scarves etc. aren’t working. I don’t even wear my beautiful wedding ring because the hand sanitizer gets underneath and I had some dermatitis develop. I am always moving, climbing and running (extraordinarily unladylike for a 65+ woman) and jeans/cords don’t give me the flexibility the leggings do. Besides when the windchill is -29C jeans are awfully cold. Fleece lined leggings tuck into boots and aren’t flapping in the wind. In our climate fashion comes second to function/warmth. If I am not with the grandsons I have my trusty LLBean double zip fleece house coat…( I own two:)which has been thrown over a thin cashmere sweater and leggings for warmth or I pull out my leopard cashmere ruana if I want to kick it up a notch and yogurt isn’t being cast about the breakfast room by the one year old.
    ps my 24yr old has developed an aversion to scent so I rarely wear it. After a few years of working in retail his comment was “I can close my eyes and tell how old a woman is from the perfume and quantity of it she is wearing!” Apparently neroli is a dead give away! Oh no, I had a bottle of Jo Malone that was some sort of neroli mash up ( I hated it too) into the trash….

  15. Dana
    February 3, 2021 / 2:32 pm

    I love the combination of forest green and sky blue. Haven’t seen that combination lately, but it is so restful and attractive.

  16. Kay
    February 3, 2021 / 5:03 pm

    I expect things to swing all the way to the other side: causal will give way to dressy because we are all so sick of this lockdown.

  17. Eileen
    February 3, 2021 / 6:25 pm

    P.S. my feelings are that color and dressing up will return, it may “look “ different, but after being on lockdown for almost a year, I’m eyeing color. I planted the most flowers ever in my garden this past year, I wanted happy colors around me. I think that’s a sign.

  18. Wren
    February 3, 2021 / 7:37 pm

    Maybe another thing to consider is that during Prohibition, there was the Flapper era when many people were defiant against it. Women bobbed their hair and wore decadently short dresses, showing LEG! They also discarded corsets, so smart. People were ready for a good time and broke loose. Maybe something similar will happen after Covid when we are ready for big changes.

  19. RoseAG
    February 4, 2021 / 10:06 am

    These CVOID months have been a preview of retirement for me.
    Although I don’t plan on retiring for several more years, it is on my horizon and all this stay at home has helped me to understand what a post-work wardrobe is likely to be.
    So, fewer dressy uncomfortable shoes, more nice pants and loungewear, lots more outdoorsy/walk the dog outfits.
    Staying at home has reminded me that I am not a jewelry girl.
    I’ve also found that with a less hurried life i am more appreciated of nice things, and have more energy to care for them.
    Nice soft sweaters in my future.

    I’ve also finished up my go natural hair transition and have moved my colors to support a cooler head of hair.
    BTW – I just love that bandana. If anyone here doesn’t own that yet they should order it immediately!

  20. February 4, 2021 / 11:06 pm

    After spending almost a year in Pj’s and loungewear I’m now looking forward to dress up if it just to step outside for a simple chore. The green sweater coat looks amazing!

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