The “Everything” Outfit

This post was originally featured on the Califabrics blog. Full disclosure: Califabrics gave me some materials in exchange for this post. But I promise you, I would have spent my own money on this fabric in a hot second.

I’m coming at you today to share my absolute ride-or-die, “I don’t know what to wear” outfit formula. I’ve attended a great many events with my wonderful significant other, who is absolutely terrible at discerning an expected dress code, and stressed out about what to wear for hours/days/weeks before hand.

So in the interest of my sanity and relationship, I’ve figured out an Everything Outfit that, with a few accessories, can be appropriate for almost any event south of black tie. More importantly, many of those accessories fit in my purse, so I can dress it up or down in the bathroom after arriving and realizing “umm… there are far too many adults wearing basketball shorts for this to be a cocktail party…” (Has that ever happened to any of you? Just me?)

The root of this outfit formula is a striped body con t-shirt dress. My favorite length is a few inches below the knee. I think that length is just a hair dressier and balances out the more casual stripes nicely. I made mine in this black and white striped Ponte, which is nice and thick (read: no underwear lines or lumpy bits). My machines LOVED this fabric, and I’m almost disappointed my cover stitching is barely visible, because it’s pretty fantastic. I used my TNT Agnes top pattern by Tilly and the Buttons and lengthened it by XXX inches and shortened the elbow length sleeves by about 4 inches.

Next thing I add is a chambray button down. I made mine years ago (also using a chambray from Cali fabrics. I think it’s sold out, but this one would be a great choice). For the shirt, I used another TNT, the Sewaholic Granville shirt.

From here, we get to the accessories. This is really what dresses up or down an outfit. In general, I make a little list in my head about what dresses something up or dresses it down. And then I figure out about where the event probably sits on the casual-to-formal spectrum and add accordingly. When I’m getting ready, I start with the outfit that matches my best guess, and toss a couple accessories in my purse/the car (like a different necklace, shoe or lip color), if I’m really unsure. 

Outfit #1: Backyard BBQ/running errands/pool party

Components: Striped dress, chambray buttoned up, neutral necklace, flat sandals, natural make-up

This outfit is perfect for those dog days of summer afternoons, whether they’re by the pool, sitting at your kid’s  soccer match, or at a barbecue.

A more casual version of this outfit would also be cute with white sneakers, a baseball cap and the button down tied around the waist. But I (somehow) have not jumped on the cute sneakers bandwagon, and I have wavy/super thick hair that does not play nice with baseball caps. But please, wear this and tag me so I can live vicariously through you. 

Outfit #2: Garden Party/Date night/I-want-to-look-cute-but-not-like-I-put-much-effort-into-being-cute

Components: Striped dress, chambray tied at the waist, neutral necklace, chunk heels, neutral or bright lipstick

This is absolutely my most worn version of this outfit. I usually start here, and have found that despite always worrying that I’ll be overdressed, I pretty much never am. The shoes are Toms heels, and are seriously so comfortable, and also go with absolutely everything. EVERYTHING.

Outfit #3: Cocktail Party/Outdoor Summer Wedding

Components: Striped dress, bib/statement necklace, heels and bright lipstick

I love that I have something so comfortable to wear to fancier occasions. The thickness of this fabric also means I don’t have to wear any shape wear (hallelujah!). With this silhouette, I’m never worried about the wind, or accidentally flashing anyone if I’m dancing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely worn short dresses and thought “man, if I drop my keys, there’s no quick or easy way to pick them up…”

So there you have it! My die-hard, wardrobe-workhorse outfit. I can’t tell you how much stress having a fail-safe outfit has saved me. 5 out of 5 stars, would recommend.

What about you? Do you have a go-to outfit? Or a significant other who is blissfully oblivious to attire expectations? Have I convinced you to find your own Everything Outfit?

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