How to make a relaxed outfit look polished

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These days, it’s all about comfort for many of us. We don’t want to wear anything that’s binding or constricting, but we still want to look put together. Here’s a relaxed fall outfit that rises to the level of “smart casual.”

I’m wearing size XXS in the jacket, size S in the sweater vest, Petite S in the pants. I’ve been a big fan of Eileen Fisher lantern pants for a few years now. This season they’re offered in several colors and fabrics. I also love this corduroy jacket. It’s offered in several colors, sizes XX-Small to 3X.

I don’t know if it’s true where you live, but I’ve noticed that people are dressing more casually everywhere these days. Even at the theater or nice restaurants, you don’t see the kind of “trussed up” looks that used to be more the norm. I think for many, the pandemic years have accelerated the shift in our style priorities in the direction of comfort above all.

While I don’t argue with comfort (it’s been a must for me since I’ve been writing this blog), I also prioritize looking and feeling neat and put-together. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years for looking polished without sacrificing comfort:

Stay (mostly) in the neutral zone

An outfit based on neutrals will almost always look more put-together and polished. Every seasonal palette has a few neutrals; once you know your best ones, stock up when they’re available. Neutrals within your palette can be mixed (think brown + camel / black + gray / navy + brown or black or gray). You can even mix two shades of the same neutral, just vary the texture between the pieces as I’ve done here. Then add color as an accent.

Add structure

Details like collars, set-in sleeves, seaming, leather (or faux leather) shoes, a more structured bag, can all add polish. Showing a little skin (by rolling up sleeves, for example) can also add structure to your outfit. Look for pants/skirts with a waistband rather than gathers or a drawstring.

Fit and fabrics

Lightweight knits are great, just be sure they drape and aren’t pilled or worn thin. Look for fabrics with a nice drape that don’t cling. I like to balance fitted and loose pieces within an outfit, but your personal style and proportions will determine the best mix for you. (Too much oversized can look sloppy, but a little ease looks more modern and current, IMO.)


You don’t have to go overboard, but a few well-chosen accessories can make an outfit look intentional and finished. I’ve accessorized this relaxed fall outfit with pearl huggie earrings (similar), a necklace with crystals and a filigree pendant, a classic watch (similar), and a stretch stone bracelet with a gold charm.

Do you have a formula for comfortable-but-polished outfits?

More outfit ideas & style tips at The Style Hub

Best of the sales…

Black UK – Cashmere Week, 20% off all cashmere

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Talbot’s – Friends & Family, 30% off purchase (full-price items)

J.Crew – mid-season sale, $100 off outerwear, extra 60% off sale styles, code SOGOOD

Anthropologieextra 40% off sale items

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Celebrating our best lives at fifty and beyond! 50ismorefun brings you motivational news and stories centered around life, fitness, fashion, money, travel and health for active folks enjoying the second half of lives.