Quarantine has done a number on most people’s dressing motivation. At the same time, the sweats fatigue is real. By now, your “real” clothes are no doubt calling, but even when inspiration strikes, putting together an outfit might trip you up. Going months without flexing your styling muscles will do that to a person, even the most sartorially dexterous. Easy-to-throw-on, polished-looking ensembles are the solution, and having reliable formulas at the ready is key. But if you lack such combos or are craving a kick of creativity, effortless-looking outfit formulas that stylists always rely on are guaranteed to get you on track.
Stylist Thomas Carter Phillips — whose clients include Millie Bobby Brown, Danai Gurira, and Zosia Mamet — says the easiest first step away from an athleisure rotation is to introduce one “dressed” element to an outfit. These could be comfortable pants to replace sweats, a blouse instead of a hoodie, or a dress in place of pajamas. “I’ve found it helpful to put on one consistent item that brings excitement to my day,” he says. “I personally choose a shoe that I look down at throughout the monotony of working from home, and it gives me a little fashion jolt. For me, it is oddly reminiscent of putting a full look on.”
In addition to shoe switch-ups, Carter Phillips suggests swapping out jewelry throughout the week or experimenting with a pop of color, which can be as small as a bold lip. “Something that throughout the day brings a little life,” he says.
According to stylist Courtney Madison, making distinctions between day and evening attire is essential for shifting back into a getting-dressed routine. “I’ve recently made a point only to wear tracksuits as ‘evening’ wear and put forth the effort to put a ‘real’ outfit on every morning. Which, I have to say, has made a big difference in my confidence and productivity,” she tells TZR. Her favorite formulas are rooted in well-made, comfortable garments, often vintage, with strong color stories. “I totally get the impulse to buy that cute matching set off Instagram, but most of it is just not as exciting when you touch it in person,” she says.
Of course, if you’re an extremist, the option to go all-in with a head-to-toe look every day remains. “All the power to you,” Carter Phillips exclaims. Those in this camp might appreciate fresh monochromatic outfit ideas, a statement collar, boldly patterned pants, or feel tempted by spring’s romantic trend.
Whether you’re ready to wear head-to-toe looks every day, or ease in with a sprinkling of half-dressed outfits throughout the week, ahead, nine stylist-recommended outfits for effortlessly chic style. Plus, an edit to shop for any something-new desires.
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Knit Dress + Easy Shoes + Jewelry
Though stylist Rachael Wang has embraced and loved sweatpants and half-up Zoom dressing like she would never have anticipated, she’s in favor of spring’s knitted dress trend for easy, polished style. “I’m obsessed with knit dresses that feel like sweatpants but certainly don’t look like them,” she tells TZR. “Add some statement jewelry and either a mule or rugged boot, and you’re ready for anything.”
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Shirt Jacket + A Crop Top + High-Waisted Pants
For a relaxed but structured look, Madison says, “I’ve been into the combination of an oversized shirt jacket, crop top, and high-waisted matching pants.” The stylist suggests a broken-in boyfriend jean as an alternative to trousers for those eager to wear denim. To finish, she says, “Pair with a simple neutral sandal for your daily walk.”
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Button-Down + Denim + Flats
“For day, I’m always a sucker for a crisp button-down and clean denim with an inspiring flat,” Carter Phillips tells TZR. “It’s classic, simple, and versatile — you can go to a fancy lunch or unpack garment bags at a photoshoot. High functionality.”
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Sweater + Oversize Leather Trousers
“I recently made a switch from sweatpants and sweatshirts to oversize leather trousers and cozy sweater,” stylist Sarah Slutsky tells TZR. “Same concept, but truly makes me feel like I’m dipping my toes back into my ‘real wardrobe.” As for accessories, she adds, “If you feel inspired to put on a chunky necklace or some hoop earrings, these simple steps make me feel ready to conquer anything!”
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Hoodie + Tailored Shorts
With a desire to break away from dry-clean-only clothes, LA-based stylist Neelo Noory mixes in machine-washable options that are comfy and colorful to break out of a quarantine rut. “Wearing color puts me in a better mood, gives me energy,” she shares. “I’m hoping to take those guidelines into my life after quarantine. It’s budget-friendly and has opened my eyes to the rest of my closet by pushing me outside of my go-to’s.”
Her favorite California-inspired ensemble? Tailored shorts with a graphic hoodie and sneakers on chilly days. “If it’s really cold, I’ll layer a blazer or jacket over the hoodie.” By the afternoon, once it’s heated up, Noory peels back the layers and defaults to an oversized graphic T-shirt, sometimes tucked, other times not, with crew socks and sporty sandals to finish.
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: Head-to-Toe Basics
Most days, stylist Elise Sandvik physically goes to a set (even in a pandemic), but she dresses the same way she would heading out when working from home. “Dressing in the morning is part of getting mentally ready for the day, so to me, it doesn’t matter where I’ll be,” the stylist tells TZR. “My wardrobe is very minimal. Over the years, while working internationally, I needed all my pieces to work together to travel light,” she explains, highlighting simple turtlenecks, men’s T-shirts, simple knits, and high-rise straight fit jeans as her go-to’s.
“I typically stick to black, navy, white, and different tones of beige and grey. Depending on what my day looks like, I either wear sneakers or black leather boots,” she adds. “Combining timeless cuts and neutral colors makes it a lot easier to get dressed since you can pair everything together.” Sandvik adds small jewelry pieces like hoop earrings or a skinny chain bracelet or necklace to her looks for a personal touch.
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Blazer + Sporty Knit + Jeans
For smart, athletic-inspired style, Wang says, “To me, the most effortless but chic outfit is a tailored blazer, sporty knit, and well-loved jeans. Personal jewelry and statement shoes make it uniquely you.”
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Button-Down Shirt + Boxer Shorts + Jewelry
For a comfy-cool ensemble that works well for on-screen meetings or relaxed, at-home days, Noory often opts for an oversize button-down shirt paired with boxer shorts. “I like it when it’s either completely matching or at least has hints of the same colors,” she explains. “Since this outfit is so simple, I put a little extra effort with the accessories and shoes,” she adds, such as layered necklaces and cute socks with slip-on loafers. “Still comfortable and WFH-practical,” Noory notes.
The Stylist-Recommended Outfit: A Slip Dress + A Cardigan + Sandals
For more of a dressed-up moment, Carter Phillips suggests a simple black slip dress with a black cardigan and sandals. “It’s refined, effortless, and has inherent sex appeal without any undertones of desperation.”