Friday, April 13, 2018

10 Tips for a Jeans & T-shirt Upgrade

Striped t-shirt, black jeans, black brogues, black shawl cardigan and black sunglasses

Five years ago, I would ask someone what to wear for something and I'd nearly gag if jeans and a t-shirt was suggested... It just wasn't my style back then. Oh how things have changed because I'm now rarely seen in public wearing anything other than jeans or workout gear. It's not because I've let myself go or because I'm lazy. Jeans have gotten cuter, I've finally accepted the unpredictable weather in Britain, my lifestyle has changed, I'm a lot more active than I used to be and I work from home, so denim is pretty much my uniform when I'm not dressed in head-to-toe lycra for either dance or the gym. I've traded dresses and heels for a more casual look these days, but I try to do so without sacrificing an ounce of style.

Personally, I think jeans have come a long way over the years and you can find great pairs in so many colours at a wide variety of prices that accommodate every budget. Whether you're budget allows for high-end designer or budget high street, find the ones that fit you best in your desired price range and buy them in every colour possible. Keep in mind that various brands carry multiple styles, so while the boot-cut variation may be your jam, the skinny jeans by that brand might fit differently and be wrong for you, so try every style and don't be afraid to go up or down a size. The sizing varies between retailers and it's just a guide... There's no need to freak out if you need a bigger size - it's finding the right fit that matters and once you go home with that perfect pair of jeans, you'll feel a joy that no numbered tag can take away from you. They'll look great, feel great and provide the versatility to you wardrobe you've always wanted. 


Since I live in my jeans, I style them in a variety of ways from super casual to chic and presentable for work purposes. Every day is different for me and within any given day, I may be doing a number of different things from long walks to sit-down dinners and popping on my fave pair of skinnies really helps me to be as flexible as I need to be without having multiple outfit changes in the day. Learning to upgrade my regular jeans and t-shirt look has helped me avoid buying pieces I hardly ever wear, feel more comfortable in my daily look and to achieve the versatility in my wardrobe I need for my personal daily life. The lesson here is to never underestimate the style power of wardrobe basics like jeans and a t-shirt. You don't need lots of one-time-only frilly dresses or expensive pieces in your closet to look chic. Here are my 10 tips for upgrading your jeans and t-shirts looks...

1. Take your denim to the dark side.
I personally love a really washed out, faded pair of jeans and sometimes you can style them up for any occasion, but when you really want an upgrade, think darker denim. Whether you prefer a dark, almost navy shade of blue jeans or a jet black pair, they will instantly look more formal than your lighter blue jeans. 

2. When in doubt, all black is chic.
There's a reason why the Little Black Dress is such a standard staple in our closets and Karl Lagerfeld once said that "One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a little black dress." I say apply that same logic to your jeans and t-shirt when you want to make your basics look a little extra. You can even find black jeans so soft and stretchy that they nearly look like regular trousers. When paired with a simple black v-neck t-shirt and ballet flats, these styles are so chic.

3. Try a print or graphic t-shirt for an upgrade.
T-shirts are a dime a dozen and no matter how much you want to spend, you can find a wide selection in a range of colours, shapes, styles, sizes and prints. If you're feeling bored with your jeans & t-shirts, try adding a graphic or print to mix things up. Classically chic prints like stripes, polka dots and florals can add some zing or if you're feeling adventurous, try a slogan tee or even a rock & roll t-shirt, both of which you can now find pretty much anywhere from H&M to Harrods.

4. Throw on a jacket or cardigan for a more put-together look.
This is so simple and easy. Adding a jacket pretty much ups the volume on any look, but if you're like me and you don't really like jackets just try a cardigan instead. You can find cardigans in a range of different shapes and lengths, so either find the best one for your shape or grab a variety of styles for more options in your closet.

5. Shoes matter, but they don't have to be heels.
Jeans with a pair of high heels are so sexy and yet really impractical for most people. I feel like there's this misconception out there that unless you wear sky high stilettos, you can't wear jeans for a night out. I think that's wildly untrue. Of course your jeans will have an instant upgrade when you ditch your old running shoes and add something a bit cuter, but if comfort is key, forget the heels or at least try something a bit more manageable than a stiletto. Go for boots, ankle boots, slides or mules, brogues or sandals. If it's sneakers that you really prefer, that's cool too. Slip-on styles or something like Converse or Vans are my preference, but there are so many cute sneakers these days that you can find something that works and feels comfortable without looking like you've given up on style.


6. Accessorise!
So you look in your closet and feel bummed because all you have to wear is a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I say you've got the most wonderful blank canvas for creating the best outfit. Scarves, necklaces, cocktail rings, hats, statement earrings and belts can all play a part here in creating a fun look. Don't be afraid to zhush up your jeans and t-shirt with a bit of bling or colour.

7. It's in the bag.
No matter how casual your clothes, adding a chic bag is an instant upgrade. It doesn't have to be expensive, but look for structured styles and don't be afraid of colour or print. This is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to that bright yellow structured tote you've always wanted - it will look perfect with your jeans & t-shirt!

8. Experiment with colour.
I don't own a single pair of jeans in a bright colour, but I do switch up the hues occasionally. I love grey, different washes of blue and black on me, but there are so many fun colours of denim these days that you can choose colours you love while still staying comfy and casual. White is also a really chic option when it comes to jeans. I don't wear them because I know I'd spill wine on them on their first outing, but if you're handy with a stain stick and confident in your coordination, go for it!

9. Choose a sleeker style of jeans.
If you feel like your jeans are too frumpy or casual and you'd like to upgrade a bit, go for a sleeker style. I personally think skinny jeans are perfect for people who want to upgrade their jeans look, although I can appreciate they don't work for everyone. I also love straight cuts and bootcut styles for a more chic look, or if you're brave, you can even try flares. If jeans aren't really your style, but you'd like to try something denim, look for culottes styles or even try a denim skirt. There are seemingly endless options, so there's no need to deny yourself the joy and ease of a jeans & t-shirt look because there's something out there for everyone when it comes to denim.

10. Vary the lengths for a different look.
Roll up your jeans, try a longer t-shirt or a crop top, vary the lengths of your layers with a long line cardigan or grab that pair of denim pedal pushers you've been eyeing. Shorts, denim miniskirts or even t-shirt dresses layered over skinny jeans are also great options for playing with various lengths. Get creative and find styles that look great on you while upping the fab factor of your jeans and t-shirt look at the same time.

T-shirt: Gap / Jeans: Gap (similar here) / Cardigan: Gap / Shoes: Clarks (similar here)
Earrings: Accessorize / Sunglasses: Primark (similar here)

That's a wrap on my tips for upgrading jeans & t-shirts. Do you have any tips for styling this classic look that you swear by? If so, leave them in the comments below.
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