Casual Chic Fashion: Diversity Meets Individual Expression

by Becky Kénaan The chic fashion terms of “Artsy Casual,” “Dressy Casual,” “Garden Chic,” “Cocktail Chic,” “Smart Casual” and “Sassy Chic” can be somewhat confusing. What do these terms literally […]

Claire McCardell in The Ladies Home Journal (1948)

by Becky Kénaan

The chic fashion terms of “Artsy Casual,” “Dressy Casual,” “Garden Chic,” “Cocktail Chic,” “Smart Casual” and “Sassy Chic” can be somewhat confusing. What do these terms literally mean? Even the labels contain seemingly contradictory terms. Words like “Casual” and “Chic” when combined together can be somewhat confusing and paradoxical.

To provide some clarity, I have enlisted help from three fashion experts here in SL: Mika Palmyra from Luxe Paris Fashion; Jezzixa Cazalet of Prism Design and Shine Messmer of Glitter Fashion. One cannot help but appreciate their inspirational creative energies here in Second Life. This creative energy is something that comes deep from within, motivated by that inner cry for uniqueness to find a personal voice of self-expression. As such, I applaud the efforts of these designers who endeavor to sate their imaginative hungers here in SL.

The chic look phenomena is a great example of unbridled self-expression and personal stylistic diversity. To understand today’s fashions, one must first look back in history to appreciate their evolutions and continuities.

I consider Claire McCardell to be the original creator of casual chic. McCardell was an American fashion designer during the 20th century (circa 1941-1955) who first conceived the American Sportswear movement. Her designs were simple and functional women’s ready-to-wear apparel, which is now considered casual chic. Some of her most notable pieces included mix-and-match separates, the tent dress and ballet slippers for street wear. Classic Hollywood stars Katherine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn opened the way to make the casual chic look popular by ditching frilly dresses in favor of trousers, capris and flat shoes.

“Artsy Casual” refers to outfits that are casual in appearance yet possess a unique and stunning look to set you apart from the crowd. The look incorporates fun colors and prints in a relaxed pallet. The key to mastering this look is focusing on a few select pieces that turn it into something smashing without being overly assertive. Fun accessories, such as chunky dangling earrings, necklaces, chokers or multiple bracelets – all contribute to its nonchalant look.

Prism Design’s Lauren Jacket & Skinny Jeans is a great example of this relaxed look. It consists of separates layered into an artfully casual silhouette. These layers add visual interest and provide options depending on the season.

Cazalet’s design embodies great attention to detail. When asked about the detailing that went into this outfit, she stated that “it was important to create a very fine knit piquet ribbing fabric for the jacket’s appearance to express the integrity and individuality of its style.”

“Dressy Casual” is one of the more confusing terms since not all experts agree on what type of clothing is appropriate. By its implied combination, it is an informal type of apparel approach which allows freedom of movement with a dressy yet casual free-flowing appearance.

Cazalet selected her Ivy Sweater & Maxi Skirt Outfit which is undeniably easy on the eyes with its comfortable sweater crop top, low button-down back and boho print maxi-skirt silhouette. Paired with red ballet flats, dangling earrings and necklace, it is both stylish and suitable to wear at casual socials or weddings.

“Garden Chic” is dressy but not formal, effortless but not casual. It incorporates colors and themes that work well in a garden setting and something to consider wearing to an outdoor spring event.

Messmer’s Glitter Woman Green Grass Dress makes for a perfect Garden Chic look with its gorgeous fractal green and white floral patterning, paired with a summer hat and layered with a white bolero cardigan.

“Cocktail Chic” may include such fashion-forward garments as palazzo pants, a jumpsuit, or vintage outfits. Couture-minded, bold fashion and eye-catching statements are the name of the game.

With its fur coat matched with a sparkling zebra bra, the Luxe Paris AUDACIOUS outfit has this little extravagance that is perfect for a cocktail as the palazzo pant adds the chic silhouette we are looking for.

Palmyra said, “Accessorizing should all be done tastefully. I chose to complement this look with a silver Mandala Diamond Earring and Necklace Jewelry Set.

The “Smart Casual” look can be somewhat confusing since the word “casual” implies wearing whatever you’d like. This is a big misconception, as smart casual has certain rules to follow. Simply stated, “Smart Casual” translates to choosing your casual garments intelligently.

When asked about her Tusla Jeans, Top & Suede High Boots outfit, Messmer replied, “Its silhouette was designed to be at once spontaneous yet sexy to enhance your shape, while giving you the flexibility to layer to fit your personal casual smart tastes.”

This outfit can be supplemented with inventory from your SL closet. All that it takes is a keen eye for mixing something elegant with something completely informal – such as pairing this chic baii maii Spot Plush Jacket with these casual Glitter Tusla Jeans and Pulled Up Top.

The striped scarf, high thigh boots and a demure peek-a-bang doo makes for a stunningly swank look – adding to your fun here in Second Life.

“Sassy Chic” can be defined as “distinctively smart and stylish” as well as “self-assured and energetic.” Yet, the term still doesn’t clue you in on what to wear. Is it casual or cocktail?

Sassy Chic attire is of course very, very chic. (Think of satin, silk and velvet – not gabardine or denim.) That said, I chose to wear this gorgeous, beyond belief girly girl Luxe Paris Sassy Blue Halter Dress.

When asked about its chic look, Palmrya replied, “In my eyes, the SASSY Dress is sassy chic because it has the daring transparency of the lace paired with the elegance of a silky halter under-dress. Daring but with restraint, elegant but with a touch of spices!” I paired it with boots, matching pearl strand necklace and bracelets. This layered look is straightforward and brilliant without being overdone.

The chic look phenomena is a great example of self-expression – One that follows no strict aesthetic rules but rather promotes the expression of personal stylistic diversity. Learning how to capture the chic look is not difficult. Developing your own chic fashion sense of style to fit your unique personality is the key. Once learned, it gives you a magical ability to underscore your individuality.

Perhaps the best and easiest ways to learn how to dress fashionably is by following the fashion trends set by these talented designers here in SL. They can offer you a better view of what is in and how to combine different elements to create a spectacularly chic outfit to obtain a gorgeous look that says YOU!

Becky Kénaan
Writer & Photographer

Written and Photographed by Becky Kénaan