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How to Look Relatable But Still Classy

September 26, 2023

I’d probably describe my personal style aesthetic as polished but relaxed, classic but modern. At least those are the words I’d use today. That could well change tomorrow. Ha! But sometimes I forget the importance of also looking relatable, approachable. As a Christian who wants to be salt and light in the world, those characteristics are important to me. I don’t want to look “too good for other people” or especially fancy. So I thought we would talk briefly about how to look relatable but still classy.

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How to Look Relatable

A funny thing happened at church Sunday. Let me set the stage a little. We have a very small house church, so we’re pretty close and very familiar with each other. Everyone in our little house church knows what I do for a living and they’re used to seeing me dress up a little more than them on Sunday mornings, even though we’re a very casual bunch meeting in a home over breakfast amidst playful children.

Sunday morning after our worship service, just as James and I were about to walk out the front door, a young man in our church family (he’s probably in his mid-30s???) stopped me intentionally and said, “I really like your outfit. You look great today.” Huh. That had never happened before. I thanked him genuinely and was about to go on when he asked, “Where did you get it? I really like it.” Gee. I was shocked by his sincere interest.

How to Look Relatable But Classy
Garcon cotton poplin button-up shirt (slightly oversized; in an 8) (more economical option)// mid-rise straight leg jeans in dk formation (TTS; in a Misses 10) (available in Plus Sizes, too) // loafers (sized up .5) (more economical option) // belt (more economical option) // bucket bag (more economical option)// earrings // bracelet // necklace // similar sunglasses

I was wearing the outfit I’m sharing here. James and I were going to take photos for the blog after church, so I had worn the jeans for the outfits, but I planned to change into sweaters for the photos. I’d simply thrown on this striped button-up poplin shirt as a temperature appropriate placeholder of sorts.

Mid-Rise Straight Leg Jeans from J.C.Penney
mid-rise straight leg jeans in dk formation (TTS; in a Misses 10) (available in Plus Sizes, too) // loafers (sized up .5) (more economical option) // belt (more economical option)

I’ll share more about these jeans, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that these St. John’s Bay mid-rise straight leg jeans from J.C.Penney are a really great buy. A YouTube viewer had recommended them, so I decided to give them a try. I don’t recommend anything I haven’t tried myself or that I’m not at least very familiar with the brand, so I needed to give them a whirl. These jeans – available in misses, petites, petite short, misses short, misses long and plus sizes cost less than $50 and I don’t mind highly recommending them.

How to Look Relatable But Classy
Garcon cotton poplin button-up shirt (slightly oversized; in an 8) (more economical option)

But let’s get back to our story. I don’t think my 30-something male friend would mind me telling you that he’s generally a jeans kind of guy. He’s a nice-looking family man, a professional and an all-around good guy. Very kind and obviously thoughtful enough to tell an old lady she looks nice in her outfit. But what do you suppose caused him to stop me on my way out the door Sunday to comment positively on my outfit…on this particular day? (By the way, there was nothing creepy about this. He spoke freely and sincerely in front of his wife and everyone else around.)

How to Look Relatable But Classy
Coach bucket bag – more economical option

I can only suppose that I looked a little more approachable, more relatable that day than I do most Sundays. You know what I wear on Sundays to our little house church. You can always see those outfits in my weekly Friday How I Really Dressed for My Day posts. I don’t dress up as much as I used to for church, but, true to my personal style, I do dress up a little. So I don’t think it was so much about whether I was dressed up or not. I think what opened the door for his genuine compliments was something else.

How to Look Relatable But Polished
Garcon cotton poplin button-up shirt (slightly oversized; in an 8) (more economical option)// mid-rise straight leg jeans in dk formation (TTS; in a Misses 10) (available in Plus Sizes, too) // loafers (sized up .5) (more economical option) // belt (more economical option) // bucket bag (more economical option)// earrings // bracelet // necklace // similar sunglasses

I think on this day I just looked a little more relatable. I looked relaxed, but still pulled together. Casual, but still polished. My clothes were comfortable, and it showed. Remember, right now one of our most prevailing fashion trends is simply “wearability.” We want clothes that look great, but also feel good enough to wear them all day long. This simple outfit checks all the boxes.

What’s the take-away? For me, I was reminded not to overthink my outfits. Often the simplest combinations can make the best outfits. And simple but polished can look relatable but still classy.

By no means am I encouraging you to dress down for church. That’s not what this is about at all. This incident could have happened just as easily at a Saturday night get-together. But I do think it’s worth putting a little thought into how we can look relatable but still classy. And I’d love to read your thoughts on the topic, too.

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Thanks so much for dropping in. Be sure to join the conversation, and don’t forget to see what I am sharing about forgiveness in today’s Blessed for My Day below.

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Blessed for My Day

In yesterday’s Blessed for My Day I mentioned that we’d be looking at the topic of forgiveness this week. We’re looking at Genesis 33 to see what Joseph saw as his father Jacob (the conniver) met up with his uncle Esau, whom Jacob had swindled out of his birthright and blessing many years prior. Talk about the need for forgiveness. Jacob came prepared for Esau’s ire by preparing a grand parade, complete with bowing servants and family members, as well as gifts. 

But talk about an unexpected twist! Immediately we learn that Esau had already forgiven his conniving sibling well before this momentous day – before Jacob apologized or paid for what he had done. Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him, then fell upon his brother’s neck and kissed him. The only explanation? Before Esau could walk out forgiveness with his brother, he must have done the hard work of forgiveness with God. If we need to forgive someone who has hurt us, we must begin by allowing God to do a mighty work in our hearts. Most importantly, as we recall the forgiveness God has shown us, we can ask Him to help us give that same grace to other people.

Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. He raised his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the slave women came forward with their children, and they bowed down. And Leah likewise came forward with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came forward with Rachel, and they bowed down. ~ Genesis 33:4-7


xoxo, Kay
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40 thoughts on “How to Look Relatable But Still Classy

  1. I think you are smart on about being relatable . I have been the receiver of someone being too well dressed for an event causing the rest of us to feel dowdy. I do like to dress up, wear my limited “ real “ jewelry.But I try to be sure my motive is right.

  2. I have shopped at JCPENNEY for 38 years and I find the best clothes that fit my style (even through my own preference changes) and for my body (even with those changes!). I can buy practically anything by St. John’s Bay or Worthington without trying it on. It’s like JCP was made just for me. Thank you for giving the store a try!!

  3. You are a lovely woman. You are far from being an old lady. What a nice young man to notice!

    As far as your foot and it being arthritis I know that ice feels really good but heat is actually the way to go.
    Heat opens up the blood vessels and allows for better blood flow. My doctor told me this.
    If it’s an injury then you use ice.

  4. You refer to your home church family. Could you offer a bit of detail, becus I only know church mtgs in large stone edifices. How large a group, whose home, brunch included, music? Thankx

    1. Hi Nancy. A church is a group of people who have committed to be discipled together and to serving or ministering together. My husband is the pastor of our small church. He has pastored much larger churches in the past, but “retired” from that kind of ministry – after 30 years of ministry – to work with me and pastor a small congregation a couple of years ago now. We are just four families right now, but hope to grow as the Lord provides. We meet in one of the family’s home and we do have brunch each week followed by a worship time with music and then a Bible teaching.

        1. I have heard of people in wheelchairs going to health clinics like Hippocrates in Florida-they have a 21 day program-people go in in wheelchairs and come out walking! Sometimes allergies can trigger it-I think citrus is a high risk for it. I recommend the book “How Not to Die”. It is written by a doctor whose grandmother reversed her heart disease. He has an app called Daily Dozen with a list of foods he has researched and recommends. There is a lot out there and I just like getting the word out. He is a doctor and reads every study on nutrition from Pub Med. I really hope you can get better! Love your posts! God bless you and I will pray for your healing.

  5. The St. Johns Bay jeans you are showing are my favorites. I haven’t found ANY jeans that fit better, no matter the price point. I did find that St. Johns Bay has another cut in their jeans. Its called “girlfriend”. They have the slightly looser/wider leg that seems to be the trend. I just got them, so I can’t give testimony to the long term comfort or washability yet. I can say that I have several pair of the St. Johns Bay “girlfriend” chino pants. They are absolutely wonderful-lots of great colors. Check them out. Besides, we have to help JC Penny keep their doors open!

  6. I think you’re outfit looks nice too. I don’t think it’s so much the jeans and striped shirt that you’re wearing. It’s how you’re wearing it. With a cognac purse, belt and shoes all matching and how you carry yourself. I could also see this with navy slacks instead of jeans and a blazer. I think you would still be approachable. But I understand what you’re saying. Sorry about your arthritis in your foot, But you’re certainly not an old lady. You always look so nice and put together.

  7. I so appreciate you trying JCPenney jeans to give a personal review. I shop there as well as lots of other places too. My body does not fit St. John’s pants, but Ana brand is a great one for me. And I love their workout selection, specifically xersion brand.
    I too am now pondering approachability as part of my desire for appearance. My mom always said it was a smile, which makes a huge difference yet I see that clothes can also be a part of it too. I am wanting to define my style if only to help me out with shopping. Case in point…..I was just at Talbots yesterday and tried on several things that caught my eye, even though I was there for a cream sweater. While there I asked myself if the other things fit into my wardrobe and the answer was no. So sad, as the pencil skirt was sooooo darling. I saved money, and realized I wouldn’t have worn it as I don’t dress up for my life. I appreciate your blog and felt you helped me shop yesterday! Thanks.

  8. I so appreciate you showing affordable items from JCPenney. Honestly, I was about to unsubscribe as I was seeing only out of reach prices on clothing, that I can never spend for myself.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post Beth. I have another moderately priced outfit to share Thursday. But I do share things in a full range of prices.

  9. Kay, this really hit home for me. I hope you visit this topic again every once in a while because I have often felt a tiny tiny bit “off” when with a group of people and my outfit is just a bit too “something”. I could never put my finger on it but your story hits the nail on the head. I’m going to really have to think about this some more, because on the one hand I love to create an outfit that excites my need to be creative, but I also want to blend in – in a good way – but also remain true to myself. It’s a real conundrum!

    For your arthritis, go to the health food store and get some arnica cream and/or arnica pellets in a Boiron tube. Arnica is an amazing all natural soft tissue homeopathic to reduce swelling and give some pain relief. Plastic surgeons use it now too! I recommended it to my friend after her knee replacement surgery and she now swears by it.

    1. I have arthritis in my neck and hands. I suggest using the roll on gel that has arnica in it called Penetrex. I bought it on amazon. Sometimes my hands are so painful that the roll on is the only way I can apply an ointment.
      I’m also taking the approachable suggestion to heart. I’m going to substitute black jeans for my slacks and a sweater jacket instead of a blazer for an outdoor dinner party this week. Just toning it down a notch makes me feel more relaxed and approachable.

    2. I agree about Arnica. I use it on my fingers. Panaway essential oil from Young Living also helps my knees when arthritis flares.

  10. I think this outfit is great looking! And I think it would look great on a woman of any age. I am sorry your foot continues to bother you and suggest that you might get some relief from wearing some more cushioned shoes when you are walking for exercise. I hope it will feel better soon.

  11. Hi Kay and may I say how lovely you look in blue it’s definitely one of your best colors. I have learned so much and love your blog and videos!
    I have arthritis in my back, hip bursitis and ankle tendinitis and heat and physical therapy has helped me resume some activity. There are also topicals such as Voltaren. I’ve had to rethink shoes too. I’m so grateful I have these tools…and you!
    Enjoy your day!

    1. Thanks Marcia. Yes, I’m switching to heat. I guess I was still thinking injury even though I now know it is arthritis. And my mom had recommended Voltaren. Thank you.

  12. Your outfit, today, is something I would definitely wear! I love stripes and the look of a button-down shirt. I am wondering how the JC Penney jeans held up throughout the day. Did they stretch out and get baggy in the knees and seat?

    1. They did not stretch out or get baggy. Trust me, I wouldn’t recommend them if they did. But I’m pleased to say they did great. I’ve not washed them yet, but reviews on the website are good.

  13. What a Lovely young man to comment on your outfit and you , you are much too lovely to be classed as an ‘old lady’ by the way . I loved your outfit ( sadly JC Penney doesn’t ship to the UK) . And Im happy you are showing us some slightly more casual outfits and showing us how to be more relatable . Ive said before I retired in January this year and because my full time job I wore a uniform , so on my days off I always felt the need to dress up , perhaps sometimes it may have seemed a bit much to some people , but this summer I’ve been taking your advice and have gone more casual than I have ever in my life , but like you say with some elevation to it , and Ive loved it and the compliments Ive had and it has made me feel more free so I have actually stopped worrying about my outfit and just enjoyed myself , plus its the first time Ive ever worn flat shoes , apart from my work shoes 😀. Linda is right ice is for injuries so go with heat , Bless you arthritis i. Your foot I hope it doesnt trouble you too much ❤️

  14. What an interesting subject! Very good point – we want to look put together but also approachable. I’m going to give that some thought. I live a very casual lifestyle and sometimes I feel “not put together”. I think I would do better to give more thought to accessories. Your jeans and button up blouse are timeless classics but it’s the matching purse, loafers and belt that give it polish.

  15. I have to be conscious at work of how i dress. I work at a high school with special ed students. I want to look professional, but still need to be “functional”. In our classroom I work with much younger ladies who are not in the same stage of life as i am. My husband has been in the professional world and i have needed to “dress the part” as his wife.

    I have found that I use many of your tips for looking put together. I will buy some pieces that are more expensive but most of the time I will buy mid range clothing that looks more expensive. I love a good sale at better stores and I’m not afraid to tell the younger ladies when i get an amazing deal! I do try to inspire them to look more professional.

  16. Kay,
    The young man could wear this outfit himself since he is a young professional. The shirt, jeans, and loafers (maybe a darker shade of leather) would look good on casual Fridays many companies have. Sans the handbag and jewelry of course!
    I think it’s a more comfortable occasion overall when people are wearing similar clothes for social functions. A feeling of common ground.

    Penneys is a great place to shop and the jeans are well-priced. I would buy them if they made my size. The sales are great too. I found some jewelry recently at a good price too.

    Arthritis is so painful. Hope you find relief soon and agree that heat works better for easing discomfort.

    I don’t comment much due to my schedule but never miss reading your posts. Thank you!

  17. Did you all know that on their website, JCP offers a lot of adaptive clothing for people who have any special needs regarding their clothes? I’m not sure everyone knows that.

  18. Kay that outfit looks fantastic. Approachable, relatable & very much Dressed for your Day. I think we all forget the importance of the KISS principal = Keep It Simple Stupid & overthink things whether that’s an outfit or life in general

  19. Thank you for including some JCP items in your post! JCP is my favorite place to buy jeans, because they have a great variety, including petite sizes. The prices are great, and the quality is usually good. At one time I owned the jeans you referenced. However, they were too low for me as a mid-rise because I have a very high waist. My 20-something daughter has a pair, though! Most of my other jeans are from JCP. Thanks again for featuring JCP, as well as sharing your thoughts are being relatable but classy. I am a pastor’s wife in a rural area, and I strive for the same thing with my appearance!

  20. Yes like me I usually dress up more than the normal woman these days at church. I guess I’m still “old school” and didn’t wear pants much to church while growing up or all the way up into my 60’s now. So maybe he. noticed you more since you had wore jeans and liked that you dressed down a little? Just surmising but I think when we dress a different way than people normally see us……we get noticed!


  21. Perfect post today! I always want to look approachable and kind. I want people to not think I’m overdone or overdressed. Even dressing up, you can still look good with complete simplicity which will not put anyone off or intimidate them. Appropriateness for the occasion is key! Another brand of jeans I highly recommend and my go tos are Lands End and Gloria Vanderbilts. Reasonably priced and great fit for high waisted jeans!

  22. How I love the topic of this post! I too want to look my best and dress in becoming, comfortable clothes. But I very much want to look relatable, as you put it. It’s important to dress appropriately for the occasion, which includes not overdressing.

  23. I also liked the outfit you had on! I have had people compliment me on my outfits and it does make you feel good, obviously but in my opinion if you are feeling good in your choice for the day people respond to the vibe you giving off.

  24. I love those jeans and especially with the stripped button down shirt. I’m going to look for the jeans the next time I need a new pair. Our Penny’s closed and I miss them. I used to buy a lot of nice clothes there. I enjoyed the story too – it seems the young guy saw you as relatable, maybe more than other Sundays ?? This is a good lesson for everyone to learn – dressing up doesn’t always mean to the 9s, lol!

  25. Thanks for sharing this story, Kay. It reminds me that being approachable and relatable does not have to mean we don’t thoughtfully put together our outfits. Perhaps it is that we are comfortable and feeling relaxed about ourselves in certain outfits.
    I love your hairstyle, Kay! When you first introduced it this summer, I wasn’t sure about it (I tend toward a smooth and polished look myself), but each time I see you it seems that you have a happy, springy, comfortable-in-my-own-skin look about you. It’s very flattering!

  26. I love this outfit, too! I’m always telling myself, as I’m standing in my closet deciding what to wear, to “keep it simple, silly!” Have a lovely day!