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Take the sloppy out of your casual wear

Kristin Van Ogtrop, editor-in-chief of Real Simple magazine, gives tips on how to dress down without dressing dowdy.
/ Source: TODAY

Your lazy-day jeans and laid-back sweatshirts may be comfortable, but they don’t quite cut it beyond the backyard. Real Simple managing editor, Kristin van Ogtrop, presents easy pieces that go everywhere and — most important — take the sloppy out of casual.

Flats and loafersWhether in a classic chocolate brown or a current orange or blue, flats and loafers instantly upgrade a dressed-down look without sacrificing comfort. A delicate ballet shoe raises the chic factor of casual pants like capris or khakis, while loafers are timeless, sturdy and smart.

  • Coach “Lia” Shoe, $166, 866-262-2440
  • Delman “Whiz-WS” Flats, $175, 800-233-6462
  • Talbots Leather Loafers, $78, 800-825-2687
  • Marc Jacobs Mouse Flats, $295, 212-924-6126

Navy pants
Dark blue pants in a crisp cotton or supple corduroy offer the same wear-with-anything quality as jeans do, but they’re more fit for public consumption and much less ubiquitous.

  • Navy Cotton-Blend Cropped Pants by Dockers, $34,
  • 7 for all Mankind “Bardot” Stretch-Corduroy Pants, $140, Bloomingdales, 800-232-1854

A tunicA tunic is designed to be worn untucked, so it not only drapes nicely over the body but also naturally helps hide imperfections. And unlike button-downs, whose styling is borrowed from the boys, tunics have feminine detailing, like ribbon accents and floral prints.

  • Indigo Palms Medallion Cotton Tunic, $140,
  • CJ Laing Cotton-Voile “Turk Top”, $135, 212-288-7115

A sporty sweaterA sweater made of a cozy fabric like cashmere or super-soft cotton has all the benefits of a sweatshirt—warmth, comfort, ease—with the added bonus of a flattering fit. Add stylish detailing, like a button collar, elbow patches, or front pockets, and you’ll have the perfect fashionable and functional staple to top off any informal ensemble.

  • Banana Republic Cashmere Zip Jacket, $198,
  • Gap Striped Cotton Sweater, $38,

For more information, pick up a copy of Real Simple's March issue, on newsstands now, or check out