Jun 042014

As I finish up this week’s wardrobe design project- lifestyle analysis, it occurs to me that my pie chart will make alot more sense in light of this “classic” post; therefore, I am re-running it first.

(The colored text that follows is a link to another site. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Thank you so much!)
Introducing the Fresh & Now by PUMA. Shop curated looks today.

According to Sherry Maysonave, in her book Casual Power, six distinct levels of clothing are currently considered casual. No wonder we’re confused!

Her categories:

  1. Active Casual,
  2. Rugged Casual (also called “outdoorsy”),
  3. Sporty Casual (sportswear which is not athletic, but street wear),
  4. Smart Casual (or “snappy”),
  5. Dressy Casual,
  6. and Business Casual

How does this correspond with my lifestyle segments? The first three are what I consider leisure, the second set of three fall into the casual category.

Leisure = The least formal. Includes all athletic-wear and shorts. Jeans are usually leisure, and always when worn with athletic shoes, message t-shirts, and sweatshirts (including polar fleece).

Casual = Nicer, but still fairly relaxed. Due to geographical variations, I prefer to not define this category too precisely. Lunch with your boss, your pastor, or your grandma requires casual clothing. Business casual fits here.

If my career depended on it, which it would if I aspired to a career, I would define casual more … definitively. But on the other hand, why would I need to? We could all just read the book.

In the meantime, let’s discuss:

  • which category of casual might be under-represented in your wardrobe?
  • which category do you wish people would get straight?
  • does this inspire any style goals or improvements?

Living in the Great Northwest, I envision a snappy rugged casual (outdoor leisure) look to replace wearing grubbies for gardening and/ or active casual (athletic wear) for dog-walking.

  13 Responses to “Six Levels of Casual”

  1. I suppose I could get out my own copy of the book but I’m more interested in what *you* would put in the category of smart casual winter top. What about the fabrications of shirts. I had read somewhere that cotton shirts are not sufficiently dressy for business wear for women and I found that puzzling since men wear cotton shirts for business. Does someone expect executive or managerial women to wear silk shirts? I am craving a woman’s version (that I can afford, so it’s a total fantasy) of the beefy oxford shirts that I carelessly abandoned some years ago. Try and find them now without considering bespoke. And a pique shirt. How nice that would be. Might have to seriously take up sewing again. What category of casual would those be. They’re not at all snappy and they’re not dressy.

    I have bought 2 long jackets/short coats recently – a bit longer than fingertip – that I think of as smart casual. Reversible to a polyester or microfibre that looks like it could be waterproof but of course isn’t – would have to be very expensive techno fabric for me to want to wear waterproof on the inside – flat faux fur, a little like seal, hooded (you know I love me some hoods), zip front, very plain and straight, cuffs. The lining side has a smidge of fur showing at the hem, plus the cuffs. One black, one dark brown. I love the idea of the black one as a devil may care evening topper, supposing I ever did go out in the evening. 🙂 I got the idea from Italian Chic, one of my favorite style inspiration books. The parka over evening wear. Hey, I feel snappy in them. 🙂

  2. I think I could live all winter long in longsleeve cashmere t-shirts. But that would be boring, wouldn’t it? 😉

    IMO that business about cotton shirts not being dressy enough is nonsense. OTOH I don’t wear cotton much in the winter, silk is warmer. But for days I don’t need as many layers because I’m going shopping or to someone’s house with a fireplace I need to remember my cotton shirts.

    I think a pique shirt that buttons all the way would be lovely – unfortunately, I have yet to do a buttonhole.

    In the end, so much depends on the personal style idiom. Like your “evening parka”. 🙂

  3. The casual dilemma with pants. An interesting question and response from Reader wants to know what to wear for casual
    pants that are not jeans even though, yes, everyone else will be wearing jeans. The post is
    Tuesday, January 8th. This blog is the only “what I wore” blog that interests me and that I read.
    She sure couldn’t come up with anything beyond khakis, cords and trouser jeans. The dilemma struck me because it is very much a “space between my peers” issue when you just don’t feel comfortable in what everyone else present will be wearing and yet don’t want to advertize your differences. Hate when the choice is to be uncomfortable or make others uncomfortable. Maybe the woman needs a jeans *cut* in another fabric. Think I’ll go suggest that. 🙂

  4. I went over and made a couple of suggestions too. If it were me, I’d wear my wool trousers, light brown plaid. I was recently pleased to discover that they are not too long to wear with my flat boots.

    Here’s my post about jean substitutes:

  5. Vildy, I have returned in the past five years to oxford shirts, after many years of shunning them! I wear them untucked over jeans with the bottom button open, tucked in snugly with trousers, or even tied at the waist. I never button the little buttons that hold down the collar. Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and Thomas Pink all make wonderful ones for women–I buy mine on ebay in EUC or LN condition, usually for about $20 a pop, including shipping.

    I think fitted cotton blouses are perfectly appropriate for business, although I would choose silk for the very dressiest moments (job interviews, important meetings or appearances). Most of my oxfords are probably a bit too roomy and relaxed to wear under a suit, though. I have been self-employed since 2004, and only rarely meet with clients–so I wear my oxfords with impunity!

  6. EXCELLENT suggestion you left in the comments there about the casual shoe signaling your intent!

    And Sherri, thanks. Those are great suggestions. I so hate a shirt that is so thin that you could make out your hand through it if you hold it up – changes the shade of it, too, when you wear it, unless with an underpiece.

  7. Ditto the hating a thin shirt – especially a thin white one! It just looks cheap and I feel the need to wear a t-shirt under. Believe it or not, the Lady Hathaway brand sold by Costco is a decent shirt, unlike the men’s Kirkland which I am not giving back to my husband until summer, if then.

    Go Sheri – that is having personal style! 🙂

  8. I also need better ideas for smart casual winter tops. I have a semi-wrap merino wool sweater which I like, but it seems to have shrunk in length. 🙁 I like to be warm, so I look for non-bulky wool sweaters. But my first layer under sweaters usually is just a tee, so that’s kind of boring.

  9. Christie – I was just thinking that I could get a couple of slim turtlenecks and just use them for the boring t-shirt part, topped by a snappy jacket in velvet or suede or wool. I have also been using drapy silk blouses under my v-neck sweaters and liking that.

    I’m going to try to go shopping later today. We have had almost record amounts of snow and more is coming!

  10. What about sloppy casual, which is the way most of my family dresses when they come for a visit? 😉

  11. She calls that “grunge” and says it’s less than zero. But we sure see alot of it, don’t we? 😉

  12. […] question concerning smart casual winter tops, which came in response to my post on the six levels of casual: I also need better ideas for smart casual winter tops. I have a semi-wrap merino wool sweater […]

  13. […] is the end result of the mass confusion between “casual” and “leisure“.  Casual, as a dress code, has never meant “what one would wear fishing”, HOWEVER, we can all tell horror stories […]

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>