Wardrobe Essentials – The Casual Jacket


How to Style a Jacket 4 Ways

One of the garments I think that is really essential in a wardrobe is a casual jacket that you can wear with everything from jeans to floral skirts – dress it up or down.  It’s a versatile addition to your wardrobe (if you don’t have one) and something that can provide a much-needed layer over spring and autumn outfits (or summer evenings).

A denim jacket is a great option, but it doesn’t really work with denim jeans (the denim suit is not my favourite look).  Denim jackets are great with skirts, dresses and trousers that aren’t made from denim.

How to create stylish casual outfits

But a denim style jacket in a different fabric can work in its place.

Styling a denim jacket
Denim jacket in another non-denim colour – like this white one – is a versatile element in a wardrobe


Picking a light neutral like a stone or grey or beige (or even white) can make it work with so many other outfits and colours and neutrals provide a great foil for different colours.

Here is an example of how 1 jacket could work with 4 very different outfits.

A slightly casual jacket (rather than suit blazer style) is something that can dress down a more dressy dress, and then dress up a more casual pair of jeans.

How to create multiple outfits with the same jacket

  1. Outfit 1 – dress pants and blouse with the neutral jacket
  2. Outfit 2 – floral skirt and knit top – made more casual with the denim jacket
  3. Outfit 4 – denim jeans and knit top – make more dressy with the addition of a jacket
  4. Outfit 4 – dressy frock dressed down with the casual jacket

What is your wardrobe essential?

White denim jacket with an indigo denim skirt


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  • Very interesting post. I have been thinking for a while that I need a jacket like you’re describing. I agree that “double denim” is not a good look. I have been thinking black though, but can see how a different colour would also work.

    What kind of fabric would you recommend other than denim? That’s where I kind of get stuck.

  • yublocka – I would consider a denim like fabric, or another sort of cotton. But I also own a jacket in dark brown that fulfills this function and it’s made of a combination of a boiled wool and some sort of smooth fabric with a very low sheen.

    It depends how casual you want to go.

  • I have a jacket question. I, as you know, am a mostly black wearer. I would like to pop my all black with jackets of colour. But sometimes it looks too harsh a contrast. I have hot pink, orange, lime green, and red jackets and I never know what to do to make them look right with my all black.

  • I’ve been wanting color in my outerwear this year; I just figured I’d mix some neutrals underneath. It’s hard to figure out if you should focus neutrals on overpieces or the underpinnings like tees. I do it both ways so I have more versatility.

  • Hi………
    Absolutely fantastic post! I like your style..

    Wishing you in advance “A Merry X’Mas and A Happy New Year”

  • Femin Susan – thanks so much for visiting my blog – I’m glad you are enjoying it.

    Happy Festive Season to you too! and too all my other lovely readers too.

  • I love the jacket, but I can’t do the jacket as I have broad shoulders and cannot get one to fit. Hmm, if its an essential, perhaps I should get a custom made one…

  • Cybill – you could try buying a larger size and having it taken in by a tailor, or have something made – it’s often not as expensive as you may think.

  • Looking for essentials… looking for style… 40 something ARTIST… youth… FUN… chic!
    Essential BIG cocktail rings!
    Chunky necklaces!
    FUN bracelets!
    BLACK CLOTHING with colour accents!
    LOVE the literary styles for La Belette Rouge!
    Time to help Fifi of http://fififlowersdecor.blogspot.com

  • I routinely wear a jacket or 3d piece. I read that the shoulder line should extend beyond the upper arm width. My shoulders and hips are equal but I have large and muscular upper arms. If I extended the line with shoulder pads, I would look like Dynasty. I’d love to hear what you think.

  • Vildy, thanks for stopping by. Absolutely no reason to go past the shoulder line with a jacket. A dropped shoulder can minimise the width of shoulders, but that’s not done with shoulder pads!

  • thanks, Imogen, and I read your blog every day. I think it’s the best styling blog out there by far. You’re amazingly gifted at thinking these things out.

  • I agree, a basic multipurpose jacket is essential. I have been looking everywhere (I live in FL) and online for a basic wool blazer with more than 2 buttons. Impossible to find this year.

  • Hi Imogen

    I read your book for petites a couple of days ago, and have been trying to work out how to implement it.

    I am particularly interested in your advice in this post on wearing a lighter jacket over a darker top to help hide one’s tummy, as I was seriously considering purchasing a beige jacket earlier this evening that seemed to follow both the rules for petites and for ‘H’s (I think). The thing is, I have a cool skin-tone with black hair (seasonally I’m a deep Winter) and almost my entire wardrobe is made up of jewel colours (mostly royal blue/cobalt and fuchsia), with black as my neutral along with a little white. My shoes are virtually all black.

    My question is, do you think with my complexion I could wear a beige jacket? And, if so, how could I fit it in with my existing clothing colours? Is it even possible? I thought about a white jacket, but the contrast just seems to be too stark.

    Here are a couple of photos of the jacket I’m considering:

    (It’s a model wearing it, not me unfortunately, lol!)

    What do you think? Would you consider this a “cool” beige? I’d really appreciate your advice. I know this post is quite old, so I don’t know whether or not your advice on the lighter jacket would even still stand with current fashions.

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