Style and Styling

3 Style Tips: Relax a Dress

Happy day, reader dear!

Spring has spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, and with it warmer weather and more dresses. Why now? Or should I say: Why especially now? With better air circulation than trousers, a dress is lovely for warmer weather. A dress is also easier to fit than trousers, especially if you’ve been doing more baking and less moving… (I might just know something about this!) Yes, there’s more, but I won’t go into all the reasons I love a dress here, because that would be a whole ‘nother post. Oh wait, it already was!

A dress doesn’t have to be denim to be relaxed. To get the most versatility from a dress and be able to “dress it up or down,” you want to grab one of a mid-range Level of Refinement. You’re not likely to “dress down” a lace cocktail dress or formal gown, unless that’s your personality style type. Let’s relax a “regular” dress with three quick checks… Use any one or combine all three. And get dressed but not dressy!

NOTE: The dresses featured in this post are all mine, and all old. I don’t feature and style new merchandise; I live my life on a real budget with real constraints, and don’t borrow (Read: Buy and Return) new merch to write posts. That feels disingenuous.


Many of us default to heels to wear with a dress, but one of the simplest ways to take your look to casual is flats and bare legs. Everywhere you look, you see the trainers/sneakers paired with dresses trend. I love this look on others, but every time I try, I feel not me. Sneakers paired with a tee shirt dress? A definite maybe. If sneakers don’t feel right to you, try a more tailored flat, or oxfords! HINT: Flats look best with dresses that end at the knee or just above. Avoid them with a midi, unless you are one long tall drink of water! (Maxis, where you don’t see your shoes at all, are perfect with flats! Please make sure your hem isn’t dragging…)

Read 5 Ways to Wear a Shirt Dress! (Spring/Summer Version)

If your weather is too cool for flats and bare legs, then try low/flat boots and opaque tights! (Here’s some fall/winter ideas for styling a shirt dress.)


Same dress. March 2019.

Another way to un-dress your dress is to choose more relaxed accessories. Again, choose pieces with a lower level of refinement. Replace pearls and fine jewels with wooden or stone beads. Think more rustic and less sparkle. Grab a pendant on leather or cord. If a scarf is your thing, opt for cotton or rayon rather than a silk square. Tassels and fringe rather than smooth hemmed edges. A cotton bandanna adds and especially relaxed vibe! Branch out and try another color besides red or navy!


Less is more! Keep it natural. No makeup makeup.

I really did need a sheer hint of red gloss on the lip here!
This is just a bit too no-makeup for such a “loud” dress…
Same dress. April 2018

Makeup is such an easy switch, but often neglected! A red lip can dress up a outfit, and conversely, a natural face looks fresh and casual. For me that means a little concealer, brows, brown mascara, and some tinted lip balm. (Sometimes I’ll smudge it on my cheeks and browbones, too.) YES, there is sunscreen to start!

BONUS: If you are a denim jacket loving girl, then grab yours and throw that on over your dress. I wore one (Long, long, ago…) to an Air Force Ball over a black and white lace cocktail dress. It was scandalous back in the mid 80’s. I was a bit of a rebel. I may still be.

How about you? Do you save dresses for dress-y? Or wear them just because? What’s your thinking? Or have you thought about it at all? Any rebel in you? Do let me know in the comments below! XO

Same dress. November 2017.

Stay safe and sound, sane and stylish!

And many thanks to Nancy, at Nancy’s Fashion Style for hosting her Fancy Friday Link-Up! It’s always a good place to find a new blog or two… 😉


  • Michele

    Just love your all your information . Was wondering if you have any posts on styling a Jean jacket . I love them , but struggle with what to wear them over .

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for visiting, and for the question, Michele! I know I’ve written about jean jackets before and included them in other styling posts, but they’ve never had their own post… Guess I had better fix that! Thank you for the post idea. I do have a post about wearing Double Denim stylishly, so maybe that will get you started? Keep watching this space for your post; give me a week or two!

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