At this time of year, my rotation of jeans remains my trusty transitional solution to my daily outfit confusions, at least until bare legs become a feasible 24/7 eventuality. I’ve always found it hard to style casual looks without overdoing it on the casual. My laidback personal style means that I tend to gravitate towards T-shirts, and at this point, I honestly think I own more than is reasonable for one human being. These days, one of my sartorial goals is to create a wardrobe made up of easy, wearable pieces that I can chuck on with a pair of jeans at a moment’s notice, but also give me something more interesting than my usual boring T-shirt, jeans and trainers ensemble.
So I started to ponder: how can I develop my wardrobe to the point that I can pull out my favourite jeans, still look casual, but also stylish and appropriate for any dinner or drinks occasion that may pop up? Then 2020 happened. I used to be a funky skirt/shorts/trousers and plain tee kinda gal, but then video calls became my only source of social interaction and I quickly realised that the bottom half of my outfit had become totally redundant. Naturally, for the majority of us, tops started to become the centrepiece of our wardrobes, which is when I realised I was really lacking. As a result of recent times, designers too have become more and more focused on necklines, sleeves and detailing in the tops department, and so we’ve seen a real renaissance in the ‘jeans and a nice top’ category – something I think we can all be grateful for.
I’ve harped on about these a couple of times already, but they’re just so seasonally transcendent, and come in so many colours, prints and price points – what’s not to love? Whether you opt for something eccentric and printed or plain and unassuming, you’ll find that they make great layering tools as well as statement pieces.
Button-down shirts are both classic and essential to any wardrobe, but it’s true that they do go through surges of popularity and become more noticeably on-trend than at other times. Although a simple item, you will find that a well-chosen shirt is the kind of thing you’ll pull out time and time again without fail, making it a worthy investment not to be underestimated. This season, easy-breezy linen shirts are absolutely in, and they make for an awesome alternative to an otherwise plain tee. They somehow manage to straddle the tricky smart-casual divide I struggle with on a day-to-day basis.
Sometimes the difference between a boring old T-shirt and an elevated classy look is a switch-up in neckline. There’s been a recent explosion of sweetheart necklines along with bustiers featuring in our favourite high street shops as of late. These styles make for a much more interesting addition to a pair of jeans than your average top. The most popular versions right now are in knit form, making them both comfortable and weather-appropriate. We’ve also seen a rise in asymmetric necklines. This is the kind of statement that literally requires no effort whatsoever, but takes any denim pairing to the next level.
Yep, you read correctly, bradigans. Bra/cardigan sets are being churned out en masse by every brand at every price point. I’m a huge knitwear person, so these are absolutely perfect transitional pieces, keeping me very much in my knitted comfort zone bubble, while also looking super cute, feminine and casual all at the same time.
Billowing sleeves, big or small, have been all the rage for quite a few seasons now, and will never fail to take any simple pair of jeans to new heights. On the topic of XL additions, huge statement collars are also absolutely everywhere these days; from giant 70s styles to lacey ruffles, the many iterations on offer on the high street are far from shy and make for awesome combos with your favourite pair of jeans.
Whether they’re worn on their own or layered over a shirt or tee, there is nothing more (somewhat ironically) effortlessly cool than a knitted vest. While I tend to steer clear of micro-trends, and often prioritise longevity in favour of a fleeting purchase, I also don’t want to demonise the concept of trends (especially great ones). Ultimately, innovation and creativity are what make fashion so exciting. In my opinion, the key is to just focus on pieces that remain true to your personal style; so if this one isn’t your bag, then just give it a miss – there are definitely more than enough to choose from.