How to Take Basic Outfits from Simple to Stunning Part 1: Tops

How to Take Basic Outfits from Simple to Stunning Part 1 - Tops

You Can Wear Elegant Tops And Still Be Comfortable

For most of us, life has changed over the last couple of years. After spending so much time at home, more jobs have the option to work remotely, more families are homeschooling, and life has become more centered around the home again. Groceries and food from just about every restaurant can be delivered. Curbside pick-up means you never have to get out of your car. Movies are being released through streaming almost simultaneously with the theaters. With fewer places to go and fewer people to see, cozy and comfortable became a way of life and it’s changed how we dress.

This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us Wednesdays at 1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.

The Times They Are a-Changin'

How many memes, videos and embarrassing stories have you heard about inappropriate appearances during Zoom meetings? Or what about the mullet of outfits? A nice blouse, makeup, and hair done with sweatpants and slippers. Business up top, naptime on the bottom. Others didn’t even bother with the business up top and stayed in their pajamas fulltime for months and months. Everyone coped in different ways.

Mindy Kaling wearing an outfit mullet.

Another shift is happening and some people are more than ready to start wearing their nice clothes everyday. Many workplaces have downgraded their dress code to be more casual, and almost anything goes. Other people have adapted to the cozy craze and have no intention of going back to anything with a button, zipper, or waistband ever again.

Corporate casual dress code.

And then there is the group who love to look nice but can’t forget how great the comfort of months of pajamas felt. Or being at home more means their daily lives are messier. Some had career changes and their new circumstances don’t match their old wardrobes.

I was a stay-at-home mom of six kids for 11 years, I’ve been a work-from-home mom for four years, and I’ve always gotten up and gotten dressed unless I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed. The first six months after the triplets were born, we had to quarantine because they were so premature and RSV can kill preemies, and when I had 5 babies in three years, I…didn’t get out much. The logistics were challenging. I’m also very much a homebody, and there are still many days I don’t go anywhere.

After giving birth to 6 kids in 6 years, my days have been messy for 15 years now, but it has always been important to me to get up and get dressed every day. Even with lots of spit up, diaper explosions, sticky hands, and messy faces, and even though most days I don’t go anywhere, I like to be dressed and look nice, but still appropriate for my activities. 

I’m in a different stage of life now that my youngest is 8, but daily life as a mom is still messy with cooking, cleaning, hidden puddles of syrup on the counter, special surprises from our dog, and the occasional glitter explosion. 

So the question that I want to talk about today is can you dress simple and still look stunning?

How can you look and feel great in what you’re wearing no matter what your day has in store for you? There are so many reasons we would want simple and stunning outfits, so we are starting a series on how to take basic outfits from simple to stunning.

I want to show you that you can wear basic outfits that are ready for or suitable for messier times and days, dressier times and days, and everything in between and still look AND FEEL fantastic. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort or function to look nice. Throughout this series I’m going to show you some examples of things that you can wear to meet your needs.


So let’s talk about tops first. I’m going to show you some types of items that you can wear, and there will be different levels of dressiness and appropriateness for what your day has in store.


I recently saw a YouTube video that said t-shirts are not elegant, and I have to say I completely disagree. Of course there are the appropriate times and places to wear them, and there are also the appropriate types of t-shirts. This does not include t-shirts that are from your college days that you got from the school bookstore and that you’ve had for 20 years and it’s stretched out. And we’re definitely not talking about your husband’s t-shirts. Here are some examples of t-shirts that you can wear dressed down or dressed up in an elegant way. 

This is a t-shirt that I LOVE. Because of the style and the pattern, it’s more of a dressed down t-shirt. Camouflage is casual, let’s just be honest. But, it’s still a nice t-shirt and I look very put together in this outfit as opposed to an oversized stretched out faded one that is so nice to sleep in. 

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.

This is also a t-shirt, but it’s solid, it’s in a beautiful color that I look fantastic in, the style of it is very elegant, and it has a sheen to it. This is a nicer t-shirt. It can be more dressed up or more dressed down. It’s a very elegant look. Whoever said t-shirts can’t be elegant didn’t consider this one.

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.

Sometimes it has everything to do with how you pair it. This t-shirt is actually a little more on the casual side than the last one and it has fine ribbing to it. Because I paired it with nice ankle pants and wedge sandals, it looks dressier than the last example. This is a very nice looking outfit and there are a lot of places I would go in this outfit and feel very comfortable. 

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.

All in all, choosing a t-shirt has everything to with where you’re going, what you’re doing, and what the purpose is. There are t-shirts, and then there are t-shirts. You can choose nice t-shirts and still look really elegant, put together and stunning.

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I know not everyone likes button-ups. The benefit of t-shirts is that they’re super comfortable. Comfort reigns supreme. Button-ups are a different story but I happen to adore them. There are button-ups that are stretchy, but most of them are more structured. They can be casual or dressy. 

This top is a flannel button up, and I love it. The pattern and the fabric make it a more casual look, but you can still wear it in a very nice-looking way. This is one of my favorite shirts. It’s a step up from pajamas for sure.

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.

And then of course there are nice button-ups that you could wear to court, or to a wedding. This top is a nicer material, it’s sort of crepe-y. It’s the same cut and style as the flannel but the fabric is different. It doesn’t have to be solid for it to be dressier, but it doesn’t hurt. 

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.

This is basically the exact same button-up except it has a striped pattern. I have a very casual lifestyle, but I dressed this outfit down by wearing jeans. It was perfect for a date night outfit with my husband. This is a very put together look, but it’s also very comfortable. This is not a super tight or fitted button-up, I can still move around in it.

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.


Sweaters are a personal favorite of mine. There are “sweaters” and by that I mean the ones that have pills, holes, or are oversized (and not in the fashionable way). And then there are sweaters which are nice but casual.

This is one of my favorites. It’s a more casual sweater, it has a chunky texture to it. It’s very appropriate for casual occasions and it’s just as comfortable as your pajama top. It’s just as easy and cozy, but you look so nice and put together. 

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.

This is also a navy sweater, and it’s a silk and wool blend. It has a looser cut through the body, but because it’s a finer material it still follows the lines of my arms. This is a dressier sweater, and I love it so much that I have it in three colors. This whole outfit is so stretchy and comfortable, I could be in Cirque du Soleil. Every bit of this outfit is as comfortable as pajamas, I could sleep in it. You could wear it to much dressier places, but you’re not sacrificing any comfort whatsoever. 

April from Stunning Style wearing a comfortable and casual top.

Those are three categories of tops you can wear. With little ones, we’ve discussed the comfort factor, so if you have a messier at-home lifestyle now then you would want to be more thoughtful about the things you come in contact with. Is it machine washable? Are you around a lot of velcro? Velcro will always get caught on a sweater, but not on a t-shirt. Even with a messy lifestyle, just make sure it’s washable and you’re golden. I hope this helped you see that you can wear more elevated tops, t-shirts, button-ups and sweaters and be just as comfortable and ready to face those messy days while still feeling good about how you look. The most important part is that you feel great about how you look.

Next week we’ll talk about bottoms, and I have a lot to say about that too so I hope you’ll join me as we continue this series on how to take basic outfits from simple to stunning in very easy and comfortable ways. 

4 thoughts on “How to Take Basic Outfits from Simple to Stunning Part 1: Tops”

  1. Love the article! Exactly where I am right now – stay @ home mum for 3.5 years. Have also always ‘got dressed’ every day, even if ‘home day’ (which most of them were / are). Also getting used to dressing ‘casually’ every day, after many years in office/corporate environment; I have gradually been thinning out my wardrobe. These tops are right up my street; I am a completely different colourway to April (a very definite red-headed Autumn), but recognise the styles/patterns that would suit me. The article was a great reminder to check my wardrobe again for what really works now, especially the ‘easy care’….Looking forward to reading the following article(s) on other items to take simple to stunning :o)

  2. Lynette Lawrence-Kirk

    Love this article!! I am just working on adding “dressier” tops for FL this winter for going out. Great reminder that just dressing up my t’s will get me through! Love the bottom v sweater!! Was that is one of our past guides?? Thank you for all you do for us!!❤️

  3. Thanks for this post. I am retired, but have five — FIVE Zoom meetings — every week. People are pretty casual on these calls, so trying to find the balance between casual (graphic T?) and not overly dressed (Twin-sweater set?) can be a challenge. I appreciate your ideas and suggestions!

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