Style or comfort?
I’m so over choosing.
I’ll take both, please and thank you.
I’m a few years into this whole “figuring out my style” thing, and when I first started, it didn’t take too long to find the aesthetic I loved.
But it did take me a while to figure out how to execute my aesthetic in the most comfortable way possible.
In fact, I’m still figuring it out.
Last week, I released my free wardrobe planner and an example of how I filled out my own planner. If you checked out the example, you probably noticed that I made notes about things in my closet that aren’t working for me, even today — mostly because it turned out they weren’t as comfortable as I thought they’d be.
So, hitting that sweet spot of comfort + style is a process.
But even though I still make mistakes, this outfit is definitely a win for comfort + style.
Let’s break it down:
No. 1: Flat, comfortable shoes.
Flat shoes are the best.
Except for when they have zero support and give you blisters. :)
But here’s my big secret:
As soon as I get a new pair of shoes, I slip some comfy insoles in ’em and I put moleskin padding around the heel and any other uncomfortable spots. Quick tip: instead of following the instructions and putting the moleskin on my foot, I put it directly onto my shoe instead.
And just like that, they’re broken in.
Just say no to blisters.
No. 2: A structured leather tote, with plenty of compartments to keep me organized on the go.
I swing back and forth — sometimes I prefer a small bag, sometimes a big bag.
But right now, a roomy tote equals comfort.
Why? Because I can stash snacks in it. And a sweater if it gets chilly. Or a backup pair of flats if I’m wearing heels. Or my fav water bottle.
Basically, I can fit all the comforts of home in my tote.
No. 3: A pretty, easy-to-wear midi dress.
I’ve dubbed this dress the most comfortable, wearable dress I own. Here’s why:
- One word: Pockets.
- A camouflaging pattern that will come in handy when I inevitably spill something on myself.
- An adjustable drawstring that defines my waist (but it can also be loosened after a couple of tacos).
- A midi length that keeps things demure.
- And soft, throw-in-the-wash fabric.
Give me that overlap between style and comfort and I’ll take it every time.
What about you? Do you lean more towards style or comfort? Got any tips for upping your style game while staying comfortable?
Liked today’s outfit? You can shop it and support Unfancy at the same time by using these affiliate links:
01 / Dress gifted by Bridge + Burn (responsibly made) / Same dress, also pretty in light blue
02 / Bag gifted by ONA / similar tote for less (responsibly made)
03 / Shoes by Madewell (on sale) / similar sandals (responsibly made)
04 / Bracelet by Moulton (responsibly made)
05 / Necklace (old) / similar in gold
ClarE dowling says
Like you I’m somewhere along the road to having my style and my comfort completely in sync. At the moment, I’m trying to replacing things (only when they need to be replaced, which I never admit to until a favourite item is totally falling apart) with garments that are as expressive of my style but secretly express my need to be comfortable. Shoes are the hardest. I’m far too inclined to pick edgy options that leave my feet aching after a simple trip to the post office. Now I look for block heels and straps or laces that keep the foot in place and allow greater ankle support. And I’m all about smock dresses, which really suit my grungy-girlie-but-weirdly-smark-and-put-together look. Or desired look.
ClarE dowling says
Should say “smart”!
elisha-mae i wear this? says
love the simplicity of your approach to style! i wish i had the self-restraint to have a minimal wardrobe :-(
elisha-mae I wear this?
Hi I’m Alicia May!!
I adore Caroline’s style and am two season into creating my perfect wardrobe. Finally working out your style is just too much fun.
Bonnie Rae says
You have made me just adore Madewell. I never would have realized how wonderful and stylish their clothing is if you didn’t feature them so often! Comfort is always on my planner as well :)
Bonnie, their style is just so spot-on for me! Glad you like them too :) xo, Caroline
I love this outfit, especially the shoes and purse. For summer, I definitely have to wear comfy and practical outfits. It’s just too hot to be tugging at clothes that don’t feel right.
By the way, this week I used your new wardrobe planner to re-organize my summer wardrobe. It was lots of fun and I feel really confident about the outfits I’ll be wearing this summer. It has already saved me a lot of time in the mornings. I love your website and wardrobe inspiration!
That’s so exciting Aimee! Have a wonderfully stylish summer! :) xo, Caroline
I was all in for this… until I remembered what trips me up every time… the underwire strapless bra negates the comfort. And it’s the spaghetti straps that keep this dress looking so sweet! Love the look, though. Thank you for all the inspiration you provide!
Hi Julie! Totally understand! Have you tried looking for a comfy wireless option? I’m trying out this one: http://bit.ly/295zRJk I’ve also been known to take an exacto knife and cut the wires and boning out of bras, swimsuits, etc. It works great! xo, Caroline
Caroline, what a great idea to cut out the underwires, I love it!
I have the same frustration with bras and I’ll definitely try both your suggestions. Thank you!
Depending on how busty you are Julie maybe try something like this: http://www.naja.co/collections/bustier/products/talavera-valentina-bustier
I am a DDD and this is the only kind of strapless I can stand. Because there is the bustier part below the cups you get additional support without having to have the bra as tight. I have this exact bra and love it.
Caroline, you may like this company. They try to work with women who are heads of households or are single parents. They also print all their fabrics rather than dye them to cut on water waste.
Kate – I just checked out the Naja website. Amazing! I just love it. Thank you for the recommendation! :)
Sarah Alice Andrews says
Just a thought, but have you been professionally fitted in a bra? In my experience, the wiring of a bra shouldn’t be uncomfortable if the wire is cupping you correctly & the band is not too tight across the ribcage. But I do get that the silicon on a strapless bra is not always comfy in summer heat. ;).
I like that dress. Just the thing for hot summer days!
lisa ValinskY says
I am all about comfort (and clothes that hide stains, lol). I could live in my cotton shirts and skirts and a pair of Birkenstocks all summer and be totally happy.
I’m doing the stay at home mom thing right now and love that I can live in comfy clothes, but even when I was a teacher I always sought out comfortable outfits and shoes.
Lisa, it just doesn’t make any sense to be uncomfortable or wear “high-risk” clothes, right?! :) xo, Caroline
You’ve definitely got both covered here! Love the dress xx
Jackie (york avenue) says
I love this dress! It looks so great on you. Comfy and stylish – love the midi length.
Berta Errando Aguila says
Since I am a mum, comfort is a must! It’s impossible to run after a two year old in heels or a mini skirt. Sometimes is not easy to find both…. but I am learning to not to buy anything that doesn’t have both. Thanks again for your inspiring posts!!!
I love your outfit! And yes, comfort is absolutely as important as style in my book. I’ve become more picky than ever when I’m out shopping because of this. Nothing’s worse than fidgeting with a garment that’s too tight/itchy/slips down, or whatever, when I figure there’s got to be a better option out there I just haven’t found yet. I just got rid of a lot of clothes like that, and I’m not bringing more back in! :)
Taryn! Woo! It’s so nice when you have a closet full of clothes that you actually enjoy wearing! :) xo, Caroline
Your dress is so beautiful *-*
I love your description for “the dress”: soft, comfy, and drop into the washer are Musts on my tick list! However, I have yet to find cute wearable shoes like yours and hadn’t heard of moleskin padding, presumably for snug fit. Thanks for that!
Hanni, I’d say give the moleskin thing a try and hopefully it will help your shoe situation :) xo, Caroline
Alina @EclecticAlu says
That dress is beautiful, and so wearable!
hello! i know you’re researching and exploring ethical fashion. i’m curious if you have considered or will consider going vegan in your fashion journey? many consider it unethical for animals to be sacrificed for our personal pleasure and adornment.
no judgments, just curious. :) plus i would love to find a resource, like you, who has these values to assist in my own personal fashion journey as well.
light & love, ox
While I understand the concerns vegans have about leather (I assume you are referring to Caroline’s shoes and bag) I find the common vegan shoes/bags made of pleather – or “vegan leather” as it is marketed – to be as bad or worse. This is a fancy name for plastic (recycled or not), and the manufacturing and disposal of it takes it’s own toll on the environment, wildlife (especially marine life) and so on. It is possible to find products made of recycled leather, and to find products made of leather that is exclusively a by-product of the meat industry (thereby honoring the whole animal). Leather will biodegrade in the landfill or the compost pile, and typically lasts longer. I wholly admire the effort some people make to avoid synthetic materials and focus exclusively on natural plant fibers, like cloth bags and shoes – and perhaps that’s what you do, and that is great. But I can’t help but to dismiss the idea that vegan pleather is a more ethical choice over any and all leather, as is so often suggested by those who market such products. It is not so simple a matter, in my opinion.
Hey Melanie and Michaela, thank you for your thoughtful posts. I don’t think it’s possible to start on the ethical shopping journey without at least considering going vegan. I appreciate both points of view and will continue researching! Thanks :) xo, Caroline
I actually didn’t realize how important comfy clothes were for me until I started filling out the capsule planner and realized that most of my go tos were described as cute and comfy. Suddenly, I’m realizing why the skirts with the tighter waistbands that don’t allow for a good-sized lunch are staying in the drawer!
Lisa — truth! haha :) xo, Caroline
Atul@ Charu Fashions says
Gorgeous Outfit! Superb style!!
Marie @ The Business of Blooming says
I love the title of this post – it’s a great place to be :)
I recently discovered your blog and the capsule wardrobe has really helped me as I have been slowly transitioning from a “business” centered wardrobe to a more relaxed yet professional looking wardrobe. Your advice particularly helped me pair down and identify what makes me feel great. I smiled when I saw your description in your sample planner as “feminine tomboy,” the word I came up for mine is “Refined Tomboy”! I also wanted to share my newly discovered apple cider vinegar drinks after I saw your mention in another post. My morning favorite is a 1/2 cup of orange juice over ice with 1 T of apple cider vinegar and topped off with peach flavored sparkling water, it’s like having a morning cocktail! Later in the day I also found the vinegar tastes good added to Fresca! Thanks for sharing, your inspirations!
Kristin, that sounds delish! :) xo, Caroline
I like to think of my outfits as stylishly comfortable. In the summer I love reaching for things made out of cotton or linen. Sure, it’s a pain in the butt to reach for the iron every time I want to wear a shirt, but it keeps me cool in the summer heat.
Leah, absolutely. It’s worth the few minutes to iron/steam items to feel fresh all day :) xo, Caroline
I absolutely love your site! I’m currently in a revamp of my closet and honestly style. For so long I’ve just worn clothes but now I’m at a place where I wanna wear clothes that at me. I’m team comfort and practical all the way (save the few pieces that aren’t “practical” but oh so lovely) and learning how to make that stylish!
Danae! Woohoo! It’s so fun when you get to be YOU :) xo, Caroline
Lan | Morestomach blog says
ok, thank you so much for your tip. i have those same sandals (and another pair by madewell) and even after THREE months, i still am getting blisters. i don’t wear these often, and or trek far in them, due to that and what i’m going to mention next:
this might be TMI, but i have sweaty feet sometimes, which makes for a slew of issues, one of them being stinky shoes/feet, and wanting to only buy cheap shoes cus they smell so bad after awhile. also, wearing bandaids don’t work because i sweat so much that they will FALL OFF.
putting the moleskin directly on the shoe itself – i will have to try now. because i love these shoes, they’ve just be so painful to wear.
Lan, I understand and sympathize with feet issues! We do what we need to do to make sure our tootsies are taken care of. :) xo, Caroline
Karin Rambo says
Comfort is my number one! I do the moleskin trick as well and it has literally changed everything! It’s the little things…
Indeed Karin! Indeed :) xo, Caroline
Ok well if it has pockets, it’s pretty much an automatic favorite! I love how casual and comfortable your style always is, and your jewelry is just so versatile. I need to invest in some cute sandals for the summer, for sure!
Angelina Is | Bloglovin’
I am curious about what insoles you use and how to keep them from showing in a shoe such as the ones you are wearing here. Thanks!
Hi Jess, I use the Dr. Scholl’s DreamWalk line. They are a little smaller and easier to fit into sandals. :) xo, Caroline
I so agree with you, give me both comfort and style please. Why compromise?
Elizabeth – exactly! :) xo, Caroline
Tanya E says
Really great to see outfits for the heat, as I struggle to choose outfits for the hot weather! I’m sure that’s due to living in a mild climate (UK), so I don’t have much call for it. The dress is really sweet, in both colourways.
I have recently been replacing quite a few items and comfort and style is so important. I love the part of your planner which looks at this, if something is not quite right – why? It pays to be picky and always choose things we really love.
I love your blog! I have been so inspired and started my own capsule.
Would you consider showing us all your shoes at once (in a single blog post), maybe writing where/how you wear them and why you chose them? I know you have written about shoes before, but I think it is a major struggling point for many women because we convince ourselves we need a shoe for every occasion.
Hi Mary, I’ll certainly add it to my list of upcoming post ideas! Thanks :) xo, Caroline
Hi Caroline! I so agree with you on comfort. After discovering my style I abandoned most of it because it wasn’t comfortable and if it didn’t allow me to feel myself in my clothes it actually isn’t my style :)
I couldn’t help to notice you have a “dark” eye (is that the term in English?). Or is it makeup (if it is I’m a little embarresed sorry! If it is not hope it gets well soon :))! ).
Absolutely amazing post! I changed my shopping habits in the last few months and it feels so much better so buy less and only keep the favourites! Love this dress by the way ;)
Hi – just wanted to leave a note about Bridge & Burn. I stopped in their store last week (I live in Portland), and inquired about the factory, as that every article in clothing said “Made in China” on the tag. The sales girl told me the factory had once been in Canada, but they outsourced to China a few years back, where they contract a few hundred copies of their designs. The store owner checks in on the factory once a year (scheduled visit). That factory also makes other contracted goods for more stores. There is nothing ethical about Bridge and Burn. They hire cheap labor with lax human rights, low pay and miserable working conditions. For $118, I’d like to invest in something a little more positive. Just thought you should know!
Amen to that! My own ‘comfort hacks’:
– denim leggings, just thick enough to look like real pants but with an elasticated waistband – no more button digging into my tummy
– silk shirts: roomy, breezy, keep you warm or cool depending on what you need :)
– wedge or block heels, no stiletto’s for me, ever, thank you
– the printed midi dress, just like you say (but a little more structured and less beachy for my office job ;)), made of an easy wash jersey or knit fabric, for instant put-togetherness while being super comfortable, and yes, definitely with pockets
– the cotton blazer
Bonus if you’re wearing glasses: a fashionable, statement frame makes you instantly look professional and might just eliminate the need for other accessories!
love the dress! I am from China,so nice to meet you here!
Caroline! I’m so glad you’re back! You have no idea who I am, haha. I found your blog a while back when you were taking a break and I decided to swing back by on a whim just now to research the capsule idea (have been brainstorming my own) and saw that you were writing again. I have some shoes that are the same style as these you’re wearing. Sadly, I highly doubt they were responsibly made as they came from Express. Also sadly, I should’ve gone with the 6 instead of the 6 1/2 because they’ve already gotten stretched out and slip up and down on my heel. Though, I do have heel inserts to help with–just need to install! Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and that I love your dress and to ask if you still shop thrift/consignment. Have a lovely weekend!
Hi Wren! I actually stopped thrifting for a little while because I was buying so many things that were inexpensive vs. things I would actually wear. But with sustainability in mind, I’m hoping to pick it up again, and give some love to secondhand clothes. I’ll keep you all posted! :) xo, Caroline
Armi Mariee says
When I used to study in a fashion school, I always debate on whether I choose style over comfort. But because my school was very far from my place, I most of the time choose comfort over style. I think, at that time, I got blinded by the people around me, thinking that you look stylish if you wear trendy clothes or heels. Now, I am more aware of the fact that you can look stylish without sacrificing comfort. :)
I love the thoughtful tone of your blog. So much of what you say really resonates with me – but particularly the realization that a piece of clothing isn’t for you if you never reach for it.
I saw that I was still occasionally buying things that I thought I loved and suited my style but never wore them. When I thought about the reasons for that I could easily narrow it down to a handful of issues: I don’t want to wear a strapless bra (or no bra), the fabric is sheer and needs an extra layer underneath, it feels tight when I eat too much at dinner… and so on!
Now I am honest with myself when I’m shopping about whether I’m actually ever going to wear that beautiful backless dress or thin white top. It’s not enough to just be stylish – it has to be comfortable also!