how to dress your outfits up and down

Wondering How To Dress Your Outfits up and Down? Here Are 10 Achievable Ways You Can Do Just That

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Are you tired of separating your dressy clothes and your casual outfits? News flash, you don’t need to have two different wardrobes! It’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to mix your dressy and casual clothes together. Not only is this a big win for your bank account, but it’s a great way of having more flexibility in your wardrobe. That little black dress you were saving for formal occasions? That can be used as casual attire. And the sneakers you normally wear for a casual look? They can be dressed up with dress pants. Keep on scrolling for more ideas on how to use what you have to dress your outfits up and down!

1. Wear Button-Downs With Your Casual Pieces

dress outfits up and down

shirt | sandals | shorts

Button-downs are usually thought of as something you wear to the office with a blazer and pencil skirt. And though they can be worn that way, they’re not just reserved for the office or a formal event. They can be dressed down too!

When the warm weather comes around and you want to achieve an updated look, grab that button-down shirt in your closet and style it with subtly distressed shorts. It also looks effortlessly cool when paired with jeans and classic sandals.

Or maybe you want to look polished? Then tuck that button-down shirt into a pair of straight-leg jeans and throw on a blazer. You can also use a button-down shirt as a light layer over a white tank top!

2. Use Your Formal Footwear To Dress Up Your Everyday Style

how to dress your outfits up and down

jeans | shoes | tank top | necklace

Usually, when you buy a pair of fancy shoes they get worn once and then thrown to the back of your closet, waiting for the next formal event. Instead of letting them collect dust, break them out and pair your dressy footwear with casual clothing items like boyfriend jeans or tank tops.

For instance, dress up your jeans with embellished ballet flats for an elegant finish. Or try pairing chic black pumps with a casual skirt. Pairing formal shoes with a casual outfit is not only a stylish look, but it’s one of the best ways to dress your outfits up and down.

3. Break Up Your Dressy Separates With Jeans or White Tees

how to dress your outfits up and down

blazer | t-shirt | jeans | shoes

Whether it was for a job interview or for a speaking event, chances are you may have a formal two-piece set in your dressy wardrobe. Separate those dressy separates to create different outfits!

Whether you have a blazer and skirt set or a blazer and pant set, you can create several new looks with them by mixing and matching. For a dressed-down look, swap your pants for a pair of denim. And if you wear a button-down shirt with your blazer and skirt set, exchange your white formal shirt with a basic tee.

4. Add a Pop of Color to a Professional Look

how to dress your outfits up and down

blazer | pants | sunglasses | shoes

While formal looks are usually all about neutrals, a formal look can get a dressed-down appeal with the help of bright colors. For example, red cat eye sunglasses can dress down a blazer and dress pants outfit as the color gives the ensemble a fun touch to what’s normally a serious look.

Neutral colors can also dress up a casual wardrobe. A camel blazer and a basic white tee are great options to pick to add sophistication to a pair of sneakers and jeans combo.

5. Use Classy Outerwear To Dress Up a Look

how to dress your outfits up and down

tee | coat | joggers | shoes

That long elegant coat you love to wear to work can also be layered with an everyday outfit. A trench coat or luxurious wool peacoat can look great over a graphic t-shirt, jeans, and even joggers!

Alternatively, dressy looks can also get a casual finish when paired with a leather jacket. The end result is an edgy yet casual look.

Related: I Learned These 7 Foundational French Fashion Tips After Interviewing Parisian Women

6. Use Classic Prints To Elevate an Outfit

how to dress your outfits up and down

shirt | pants | shoes

There is a good reason why Parisians love to add classic prints to their looks. It’s such an easy way to dress up an outfit!

For example, a Breton shirt paired with casual pull-on pants gives the bottoms an instant upgrade. Leopard print can also add the perfect finishing touches to a laid-back look too.

7. Utilize Casual Tops To Tone Down Your Formal Clothes

how to dress your outfits up and down

shirt | pants | heels

A graphic t-shirt is a versatile piece to seamlessly pair with dressy pieces. Take wide-leg pants and team them up with a graphic tee and voilà, now you have an edgy yet stylish aesthetic.

And if you have several crop tops in your wardrobe, use them to dress down your “interview” attire to create new outfits. Not saying you should wear crop tops to an interview, of course, but if you’re re-wearing your interview pants for a summer occasion, then a cropped top is a great way to add a casual flair.

8. Add Accessories To Dress Down or Dress Up a Look

how to dress your outfits up and down

skirt | shirt | purse | shoes

The power is all in the accessories! Sometimes all you need are small details to breathe new life into a look. If you have small gold hoop earrings sitting in your jewelry collection, use them to accessorize your casual outfit. An overly casual look can also get dressed up with an elegant tote bag or a brooch.

There are also different ways you can use accessories to elevate a relaxed look. A chic scarf can transform your look from laid-back to polished. You could either tie it around your neck, use it as a ponytail, or tie it around your bag.

Additionally, with the right accessories, you can dress down a formal outfit. Swap the work bag you use for your 9-5 with a cute and playful straw bag. It would be the perfect accent piece to pair with a floral dress or pencil skirt as it will make your outfit feel less dressy and more relaxed!

9. Try the 70/30 rule

how to dress your outfits up and down

tank top | shorts | sneakers | bag | earrings | jacket

When in doubt, follow the 70/30 rule when dressing up or dressing down your outfits. 70% of your outfit can be casual while 30% of the look can be dressy, or vice versa.

So what does this mean? For instance, if you throw on a basic tank top, biker shorts, sneakers, and a sporty jacket (all casual pieces), then the rest of your outfit can be teamed up with a chic tote bag, tennis bracelet, and gold hoop earrings. Don’t get too hung up on the percentages either- adapt them to whatever fits your lifestyle the best.

10. Focus on Hair and Makeup

Whether that be a t-shirt and linen short outfit combo or skinny jeans and a t-shirt, applying a simple red lip can transform your look. A red lip adds the best elegant touch to even your most casual Saturdays.

A formal outfit can also be dressed down with some tweaks to your hair and makeup. Be like Parisian women and go for hair that looks less made up and instead, has more of an undone and tousled flair.

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Some things are a lot easier to master: pairing sneakers with a dress or adding heels to joggers, but whenever you get tired of feeling like you need to buy new items or separate your casual and dressy clothes, use these tips to help you learn how to dress your outfits up and down even more.

For more mixing and matching style tips, learn how to maximize your wardrobe in this next post: How to Maximize Your Wardrobe + Get The Most Out of What You Have!

Parisian blazer and pants outfit
how to dress your outfits up and down


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.