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How To Smarten Up A Natural Style Personality

I received an email from a reader the other day asking for advice. She's a Natural (find your style personality here) and had just one question:

"How can I stay true to my natural style 
without looking scruffy?"

What a great question. People often assume that Naturals are the slobby ones. And this couldn't be further from the truth. Ok there will always be the odd scruff but by and large women in this category do care about their appearance. They merely have a more relaxed approach to dressing. So J (and your mum), this post is for you. 

What Is A Natural Style Personality?

Well, a Natural is someone who craves comfort and practicality. She hates things that dig and pinch preferring loose, casual clothes. She'll invariably choose flats over heels and her wardrobe will be full of easy wear pieces that allow freedom of movement. Scarves are for warmth, not decoration. Simple lines and an uncluttered look.

It's funny because this woman is often drawn to soft shades and muted patterns (regardless of her own colour palette). Say hello to Fat Face and Sea Salt. Clothes will be easy care, she doesn't do dry cleaning and prefers not to hand wash.

Finally her hair and make up will be simple with a minimum amount of fuss.

If this is describing you then you're a Natural Style Personality.

Quite often though, our lifestyle dictates our style personality for example when we leave work to have children. And because it's enforced, it can be hard to adapt. This is when things become a little confusing and your wardrobe can end up a bit of a mish mash. Head telling you one thing (Natural), heart telling you another (your true style personality). Does this sound familiar?

Well, whether you are a true Natural or a lifestyle-enforced one, the relaxed elements that make up the majority of your wardrobe, can lead to a less than groomed appearance hence people's perception that you don't care. So let's have a look how you can stay within your style personality but smarten up a little.

A Few Tips To Help You Polish Up

1. Make sure your clothes fit properly. Pay attention to the shoulder line particularly. Sloppy fitting clothes make for a sloppy appearance. 

2. If you want to do the over-sized look, keep it to ONE PIECE only. The rest of your outfit should be neat and fitted. So for example avoid baggy boyfriend jeans with an oversized sweater. Swap for a fitted pair instead.

3. Faded patterns and colours are often associated with scruffiness. I'm not saying don't avoid these but wear them in a dressed up way. Add a smarter jacket or shoes.

4. Similarly, distressed and lighter washed denim can also look less groomed. So wear a more formal, fitted top to counteract this. Black and indigo jeans will always look smarter.

5. Ponte fabric is your best friend. It's gloriously stretchy and makes for total comfort which means that you will feel comfortable. This opens up endless possibilities for clothes that you may have avoided in the past: blazers, fabric biker jackets, trousers, skirts and even dresses.

6. An easy hack to look more polished is to use colour. If you're wearing say 3 shades, it's important that you repeat one of these colours twice to give a bit of unity to your outfit. So for example it could be jeans, a camel top and black bag. In order to pull this all together, you could repeat the camel in your selection of footwear. This will give you an outfit that looks well thought out and polished.

7. Because of your relaxed way of dressing, distressed footwear, I'm think particularly trainers here, can work against you. My personal feeling is that the trend for the Golden Goose battered trainer only really works when paired with a smarter outfit. I'm sure none of my readers want to go back to their slobby Uni days when an Iron Maiden top and battered plimsoles were the order of the day (or do you?????). Speaking of plimsoles, Converse! Do you own a pair or two? Quite possibly. And have you spent ages trying to filth them up. Don't. Or at least don't over do it for the same reason. I'd stick to fashion trainers in plain black or white leather. And keep them clean!!!

8. It's cold out there right now but that doesn't mean your fashion sense should leave the room. Invest in a decent boyfriend cardigan that has good lines (as opposed to a sloppy one). The Kettlewell Colour cardigans are ideal. Comfortable to wear but still look smart.

Making A Look Your Own

Don't instantly dismiss a look because it looks overly dressy. Often it can be adapted to suit your own requirements and comfort. Have a look at each individual component and think 'how can I make this my own?'.

So for example, a recent picture from my Instagram account:

Navy/Black Mix Jacket - old (similar)
Black Top - Me&Em 
Black coated pull up leggings - Next
Shark Pippa Grab Bag - Modalu
Black Boots - Boden
(and the lovely cross necklace was my Mum's)
I'm sure you will agree that this outfit looks fairly polished and quite structured yes? 

The top that you can just about see is a black relaxed top (almost a t-shirt) from Me&Em. Totally comfortable, a very easy wear.

The skinnies are the pull up coated leggings from Next. They are the comfiest bottoms I own, far, far better than any jeans. 

The jacket is old, it's a kind of boucle fabric with lots of stretch. It's both warm and soft to wear.

The ankle boots have a mid-height block heel. They give me a bit of a lift which I think always makes an outfit look smart.

And the Modalu bag is quite structured.

So what would you change to make it work for you?

- The top is perfect for Naturals, it's loose but still smart (follows the body lines) and keeps it's shape.
- If you're still unsure about the pull up (no buttons, zips or digging in) leggings then you could swap them for black jeans.
- The jacket is akin to wearing a cardigan honestly so I'd say, stick with it.
- If you prefer not to do a heel, you could wear totally flat black ankle boots.
- The bag is rather formal and maybe a tad impractical if you prefer an easy wear cross-body one. Swap it for something that you'll be comfortable with.

See! By breaking down what an outfit is make up of and then building it back up again with what you like, you can still achieve a smart polished outfit.

Let me tell you a little secret..I look very much like a Natural before I add on the final pieces. It takes only a jacket or wow bag or shoes to elevate an outfit.

**Tip** You may or may not enjoy shopping but by trawling websites and finding a look that you love, you will be able to buy it all from the one retailer such as the ones at the foot of this post. 

Naturals At Their Best

Putting all of the emotive stuff above in to practice then.

Every Day Wear

Jeans - Find the best fit for your shape. You're going to want a bit of lycra for comfort. I'm going to put it out there again, these Lift & Shape jeans from M&Co are a very affordable, comfortable option (available in black and navy).

Lift & Shape Jeans - M&Co

Trousers - There are so many styles for you to choose from. Cigarette styles are comfy and practical (particularly if you do office wear). You could also try a jogger but look for a more tailored style rather than a cheesy Sports Direct number. Try these as a smart alternative. Blown away by how comfy and versatile they are.

I'm wearing them with trainers here but have also tried them with ankle boots and heels. Extremely versatile.

Charcoal Twill Textured Trousers - Next

Tops - You're going to favour long and short sleeve easy wear t-shirts and basic jumpers. Look for quality pieces that keep their shape. The White Company have some lovely pieces in neutral colours that would be perfect additions to your wardrobe.

Essential Long Sleeve T-Shirt - The White Company

A more relaxed shape by way of a peplum. Ideal if you want to hide the muffin.

Long Sleeve Peplum Top - The White Company

And of course, a good quality breton is super useful. This is my favourite

Breton Top - Boden
Me&Em Breton tops are in the sale. These are worth picking up now because you just know that the quality is exceptional. Good enough for Princess Catherine....good enough for the court jester.

Breton Top - Me&Em

And a shirt is always useful. It doesn't have to be a stiff, starched affair either. Something softer, slightly relaxed will suit you down to the ground. A bit pricier than the norm but the Baukjen shirts are amazing. I have a couple and love them.

Coco Shirt - Baukjen

Skirts - Lucky you. There are lots of style to try. The pleated skirt plays right in to your needs for comfort (providing you can do this style). It's long and doesn't cling. Or the A-line which allows lots of movement while still remaining quite structured.

As skirts come, this has got to be the comfiest style EVER. You may find a longer length a bit faffy so I've chosen this one. And don't worry, there's not a hint of a shine anywhere!!

Pleated Midi Skirt - Boohoo via Next

Dresses - Try a denim shirt dress or indeed any kind of shirt dress. Shift and swings are also good options.

Look for denim with stretch such as this one. Easily worn with trainers or boots for a laid back look.

Laura Denim Shirt Dress - Boden
Absolutely adore this next one which looks smart without even trying. Don't worry, you needn't wear heels. In fact, I think it would look better with flats. Trainers or long boots maybe.

Shirt Dress - Very

Jackets - You may have a denim jacket in your wardrobe already and maybe a khaki military style. And of course an anorak to keep warm!! Nothing wrong with any of these but it's good to have other options too. Coatigans and boucle jackets are stylish. I mentioned Ponte and this is where it comes into it's own. A Ponte blazer can be as comfortable as wearing a cardigan with the added benefit of upping your game.

This first one would be a brilliant addition to a Natural's wardrobe. It's so easy to lift an outfit with a simple addition of a navy jacket.

Wool Blended Boucle Pee Coat - Esprit (currently in the sale)
I have a similar pee coat that I wear often.

Love love love this whole outfit. No one could argue that this doesn't look comfortable (and so easy to replicate). It's also worth noting that even though the trousers are relaxed, the whole outfit looks polished because everything else is neat and fitted.

Flecked blazer - Mango
Relaxed long trousers - Mango
Yoga contrast trim sweatshirt - Mango
Velvet loafer - Mango

If you feel like venturing into the blazer world, I highly recommend this one which I have. It's Ponte and is so very comfortable.

Emilia Ponte Blazer - Boden 
And finally, a grown up biker jacket. That means, lose the excess zips and distressed look. Instead find one that's minimalist, it will serve you well.

Biker Jacket - Mango

Knitwear - Remeber what I said at the beginning, if you're doing an oversized jumper, keep everything else fitted.

Margot Jumper - Boden

For a more polished look, you could swap the light denim for a darker pair.

Stripe Jumper - ASOS
A shirt layered under a jumper gives you a fabulous preppy look.

Sonia Jumper - Boden

And I mentioned the boyfriend cardigan from Kettlewell Colours. It's very neat in an unstructured-structured way.

Long Merino Cardi - Kettlewell Colours

Evening Wear

Heck, this isn't your forte at all is it? Stay true to yourself and choose items that you're going to feel comfortable in. Jeans and easy wear tops with killer shoes. No I don't mean sky scraping stilettos, I mean little flap pumps with a twist, metallic loafers. You get the picture.

Ok, ignore the heels but this outfit is dead easy to wear and very comfortable. The top will appeal to your relaxed ideals and the jeans, well they're just jeans but smarter.

Lift & Shape Slim Leg Jeans - M&Co
Bag - Next (old)
Cold Shoulder Shimmer Jumper - M&Co
Shoes - Next (similar)
And this is as simple as it gets.

Whole Outfit - Next

You know I said killer shoes can make an outfit. Well killer shoes....

Whole outfit - Next

And for more formal occasions, invest in an amazing tuxedo suit, a feminine one that oozes luxe or look for dresses in clean cuts and neutral colours. You're going to prefer single layers as well - so much less fussy. You're not one for buying a new dress every time you go out either so build up a few trusty timeless pieces that you can reach for over and over again.

I hope this has given you a few ideas. Remember, I'm not here to be prescriptive. My mantra is that every woman knows her own body, her own limits, her own style. But sometimes it's good to get a bit of inspiration isn't it?

Pheweee I'm outta here. But just before you go, please do leave a comment to let me know if you find these type of posts helpful.

Catch you next time.

12 comments on "How To Smarten Up A Natural Style Personality "
  1. Yes a really useful post! Thank you Donna. As usual! Being an Enforced Natural really struck a chord with me and I definitely need a wardrobe for those "not doing much" days, for cooking, chores etc. But there's another me who enjoys wearing dressier outfits, given half an excuse! So not a true Natural I suppose. I like all the guidelines and item suggestions for Naturals and especially repeating a colour to tie an outfit together. And thank goodness for a nice jacket and bag to throw on if you have to nip out at short notice! xx

    1. There's a lot of cross over between a City Chic and a Natural I believe Elaine. It's the final 'layer' that is transformational so a heeled boot or a wowza jacket. A City Chic loves comfortable, easy wear pieces as much as a Natural but she takes it one step further to get that elegant look. And yes you're right a nice jacket and bag is all that's needed x

  2. Great post! Really informative and helpful. I can never pin myself down between City Chic and Natural, I seem to be a bit of both but often veer towards the more effortless Natural approach! Particularly as I work from home and have a 7-year-old son. Natural just fits better... X

    1. Hi Rozanne, see my reply above to Elaine. This probably explains your dilemma. There's a lot of cross over x

  3. Love love your blog. Having purchased and loved items you recommended, I know your blog is written with integrity. Thanks to you, I am learning the tools to becoming more stylish and chic. Thank you Donna for your wonderful blog .

    more stylish and chic

    1. Thanks so much, I'm really glad that you find the blog useful. Before I post anything, I always ask the question...if I were that shape and that colour palette would I wear it? Hope you will keep reading as I've got some great posts coming up x

  4. Hi, just wanted to say I've read and enjoyed many of your posts but this is by far the most helpful one. Ideas about how to THINK about individual styles are so useful. Thanks so much for this.

    1. Hi Lauren thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. It's a useful little trick that I use lots because sometimes I see an outfit that I love but know that it won't work for me but a tweek here and there and you can make it your own x

  5. Hi Donna, thank you for this great post! Completely sums me up. I don't have much reason to dress smartly these days but I do still want to look good...naturally!x

    1. Exactly Tammy, just because you don't do heels and pencil skirts doesn't mean that you don't want to look good. There is a common misconception out there about Naturals x

  6. I'm just going to go ahead and out myself as J ;) Thank you Donna for SUCH a comprehensive post. Have to say my favourite bit are the pictures, showcasing some alternative natural outfits since I tend to revert back to "leggings and big jumper". I've been on a shopping spree today, in fact and added a few more interesting yet comfortable pieces to my repertoire.
    I'm bookmarking this to refer to every now and then and now it's getting shared to all my friends on Facebook - because I think you're spot on when you say many moms are naturals not by choice but by circumstance.

    1. So glad you've got some inspiration from it Julie. And thanks for asking the question in the first place!! Writing the post has made me realise how much I enjoy wearing comfy pieces. Two years ago I would wear heels every day, these days I'm happy to team a smart blazer with a pair of leather trainers. Don't you just love a good shopping spree x