Casual to Formal: Step 1 Choose the Right Casual Wear

So Many Occasions, So Little Time & Money

Whether you are just going out with friends, going to some semi-formal event, or attending a wedding, different occasions call for different styles of clothing to wear. But buying clothes for every single occasion can be a huge blow to your wallet and to your closet space. I’m one like many people who want to save money and don’t have a lot of closet space. So to circumvent this, I’ve discovered some ways to expand one outfit and make it work in different formal settings.

What I’m about to detail below is nothing new and there are plenty of blogs that talk about this that you can find (Also some might find this common sense). But this is my personal take on having a dynamic wardrobe and it all starts with choosing the right casual clothing.

The idea here is to add different things to your casual clothes so that it makes them presentable whether you go to a semi-formal event or a formal setting. The other idea is being smart in buying clothes so that when you buy something its not for some one off event, but can be worn with different other items of clothes and different occasions. That’s what I call being practical with your style. 

Looking For Versatility in Everyday Clothes:

Below is an outfit that I want to start with as a casual outfit that I might wear that I want to eventually want to use as a foundation to wear it to semi-formal events or a summer wedding. I want to focus on three parts of this outfit (Shirt, Pants, Shoes) and explain why these items can be versatile for other more formal events. In later posts I’ll add a new item to expand on it.

First Up, The Shirt


This shirt is a shirt I bought from H&M for about $25 or so. The main points about this shirt other then the fact that it fits well are:

1) Choose Simple Colors: The colors here are a simple 2 tone color (purple and light blue/green ish). Keeping your shirt color to 2 or 3 colors makes it easier for you to pair it with other colors in your outfit. I chose these colors because it has a nice summer/spring feel to it and its really simple.

2) For plaid shirts, choose simple patterns: I can write a whole different post about my opinions on good and bad plaid but in general I think good plaid shirts have a design that is simple and the design on the shirt has consistent proportions all around. You can certainly wear a plaid shirt like the one below but in my opinion too many things are going on (too many colors), the squares on the plaid are inconsistent and disorganized, and overall this “loud” shirt may not look appropriate at other more formal occasions.


I like how my H&M shirt has very small detailed squares and the design is consistent and balanced all around.

3) Choose a shirt with Collar Buttons: This isn’t a must but the reality is if you are a guy and you are going to wear something formal then a tie or a bow tie is inevitable. These collar buttons are a great thing to have if you are thinking of making a shirt into a formal outfit. I love these shirts with these collar buttons because they keep your collar in place so it won’t flop around and when you wear a tie it won’t rise up when you tighten the tie around your neck.


The Right Pants:

I think the only rule (other then the obvious fit of the pants) is branching out to something other than jeans. I don’t think you can take jeans any farther then say a semi-formal event. Certainly not at a wedding (unless the bride and groom don’t care or mandate it).

Either way I chose to wear these FUSAI pants that I got from Jackthreads because i love the color. This tan brownish color is something I guess you can say is in right now and the light simple color definitely helps to highlight a simple more colorful shirt like the one that I am wearing.

Hiking the legs up also makes it a little more casual then maybe having it down. 

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Lastly Shoes:

I think shoes can be used interchangeably based on what you are wearing so you don’t have to use the same shoes that you wear on casual occasions as you do when you are out with friends. Admittedly these shoes I’m wearing are probably a little too formal for most people for casual wear but it still works. In general wearing a black or brown shoe with the type of material that dress shoes comes in is key. If you want to make it a little casual then wearing them with low socks is great.


By choosing these types of clothes I can wear this right now as a casual outfit with maybe friends. But it has the potential (after adding more items of clothes) to being something that I’m confident I can wear in semi-formal or formal events (more on that in an upcoming post)

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I’m not done! Check Part 2 where I’ll add another item of clothing that’ll add a more semi-formal feel to this outfit. Stay tuned!

Also a note:I am aware that what I wear for casual may not be what you would wear. Everyone has a different style and you should embrace that and not have a blog define that for you. But hopefully some of these personal observations I have detailed above might add to your fashion knowledge or give some inspiration.

Also some of my opinions about plaids and what not are really just my opinion (so sorry for those people who might own that plaid shirt up there). If you like wearing that plaid shirt then you should!

All pictures were taken and edited by the beautiful Elisha Fong 😀 Please check her out at

5 thoughts on “Casual to Formal: Step 1 Choose the Right Casual Wear

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