How to Choose Versatile Casual Tops – What to Look For When Shopping

How to Choose Versatile Long Sleeve Tops

We’ve been talking about building a wardrobe purposefully, and I know you want a wardrobe full of casual pieces that are versatile so that you can do more with less, so let’s talk about how to choose versatile casual long sleeve tops. I told you a bit ago that I focused on adding a few casual long sleeve tops for colder weather. I have t-shirts I can wear in warmer weather, and I have a lot of sweatshirts for super casual style in colder weather, but I realized that I was missing some long sleeve casual tees. So, I’ll take you through my process when shopping and share what I looked for.

Typically, I want ANY piece I add to go with several other items in my wardrobe. For tops, I want them to go with at least two bottoms. Often, my tops work with more than two other bottoms, which is great, but I usually aim for two at minimum.

(BTW if you seldom ever have 2-3 things that work with with a new piece, it’s likely that you don’t have a good set of wardrobe staples. They are the glue that pulls together everything else, and any new piece I’m considering adding to my wardrobe almost always works easily and instantly with some of my wardrobe staples. Learn how to turn your wardrobe into an easy-to-use, mixing and matching machine and grab my Wardrobe Staples Styler.)

When I’m considering buying a top, here’s a simple outline of what I do:

1. Quickly think through my list of go-to super casual bottoms. I always start by thinking about which bottoms the top could pair with, and for casual style, here’s my list:

  • jeans
  • black jeans
  • standard black leggings
  • black or grey joggers

2. Imagine how many of those bottoms I could pair the top with to see if it goes with at least a couple of them. This takes just 1-2 minutes in my head while I’m shopping. I don’t overthink it. As I’m browsing online (or on the rare occasion I’m shopping in a store), I just imagine if the top would roughly work with each of those items.

3. Once I’ve purchased, I quickly try the combos in real life. Of course you’ve gotta make sure what’s in your head works out in real life!

This thermal top is really versatile and goes with all of the pants I mentioned! I’ve talked about it before, but it really has become one of my favorite pieces to wear. It is fairly thick (thicker than other thermal tops I’ve tried which were super thin and didn’t keep me warm at all) and drapes and hangs well. And to be very practical, I just like it so much because it works perfectly for my lifestyle, it feels effortless to wear, and it can be worn in a lot of different scenarios. Check it out:

SIZING: I’m 5’6” and usually S/M or 6 in clothes and 8.5 to 9 in shoes.


How to Choose Casual Long Sleeve Tops Casual Athleisure Outfit: blue thermal long sleeve top + grey joggers + tan moccasin slippers + white spotted earrings

a. Loungewear Joggers
You can wear it with loungewear joggers or even wear it to sleep. So comfy!

These joggers are very soft and comfy! They are one of my favorite purchases from 2021! Find them HERE. I’m wearing size S. Another pair of really soft loungewear joggers is THIS pair, though sizes are really limited at the moment. I also wear this pair in size S.

Shop the Outfit:
Top: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size S)
Joggers: Gap (exact—wearing size S)
Slippers: Target (similar, similar)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (similar, similar—I wear size M)


How to Choose Casual Long Sleeve Tops Casual Outfit: blue thermal long sleeve top + medium blue skinny jeans + tan suede ankle boots + gold pendant necklace + cognac tote How to Choose Casual Long Sleeve Tops Casual Outfit: blue thermal long sleeve top + medium blue skinny jeans + tan suede ankle boots + gold pendant necklace + cognac tote side view

b. Jeans
You can also wear this top with jeans. Don’t you just love a top that works for loungewear AND jeans? So many of you have said you just wish you could wear pajamas out of the house. Well, this top kinda lets you do that! 😄 Just make sure to do a loose, front tuck and add jewelry of some sort to add a harder texture to “ground” the outfit.

And yes, even the jeans are super, super comfy, of course! These are verrry SOFT, STRETCHY, and comfy, complete with a stretchy elastic waistband(!!), so they truly are comfortable! The pair I’m wearing is HERE but is somewhat limited in sizing. There’s another pair in a slightly darker wash HERE. I wear size 4 as they tend to run large.

Top off the look with sneakers or booties. I’m wearing booties here (which are waterproof!), and they have a pretty casual vibe. I really appreciate the low heel for the practicality of everyday activities! And they’re ON SALE for 40% off!!! They are available in 3 colors, which you can see HERE. I wear size 9.

For an even more casual footwear option, you could go for a sneaker bootie, like THESE. They’re also waterproof and have a cozy, faux fur lining. These are also ON SALE for up to 50% off! I typically wear these or something similar as a warm option for my super casual outfits in the winter. I wear those in size 9 as well.

This is an easy outfit to work from home in and do school drop offs and pickups. It’s nice and low key, and it’s comfy but not exactly loungewear or pajamas.

Shop the Outfit:
Top: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size S)
Jeans: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size 4; similar)
Shoes: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size 9)
Bag: Nordstrom (exact; similar)
Necklace: Nordstrom (exact)


How to Choose Casual Long Sleeve Tops Casual Athleisure Outfit: blue thermal long sleeve top + dark grey pocket leggings + black Nike lace up sneakers + white leather earrings + grey small crossbody bag How to Choose Casual Long Sleeve Tops Casual Athleisure Outfit: blue thermal long sleeve top + dark grey space dye black pocket leggings + black Nike lace-up sneakers + white leather cutout earrings + grey small crossbody handbag

c. Leggings
Here is the top now paired with leggings. The top has a slightly curved hem, and it’s fairly long (at least for me at 5’6”), so I can wear it with leggings. Usually I just see if I can at least pair a top with black leggings, but this top works with black leggings and this dark heather grey pair that I’m wearing here.

These leggings are VERY SOFT and feel buttery! Not like typical leggings! They also have ribbed cuffs, a ribbed waistband, and large pockets which all give them a sportier vibe. The material doesn’t ever sag out, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of compression, either. They come in 6 colors; check them out HERE. I wear size S. They also come in plus sizing HERE.

I’ve worn this out for family walks, and when it’s cold you can easily throw on a black puffer jacket or black puffer vest, shown below. You could add a jacket like this or the black puffer vest that I showed recently from Gap, which works really well with this outfit. The vest is long, so it’s great with leggings! It’s also ON SALE, HERE!

Shop the Outfit:
Top: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size S)
Leggings: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size S)
Shoes: (exact—wearing size 9)
Bag: Nordstrom (similar, similar)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (similar—I wear size M)


How to Choose Casual Long Sleeve Tops Casual Athleisure Outfit: blue thermal long sleeve top + dark grey pocket leggings Zella + black Nike lace up Tanjun sneakers + white leather Nickel & Suede earrings + black short puffer jacket

4. Quickly check if the top works with several completer pieces. For the last step, I simply make sure it works with one of my puffer jackets or a cardigan, at the very, very least. And usually, if it goes with a puffer jacket, it almost certainly goes with a puffer vest.

This top works well with all of the above AND more. It works with tons of outerwear layers, but a puffer jacket and cardigan are my baseline so that I know I have at least *one* warmer layer to throw on top of any of the combos shown here.

Shop the Outfit:
Top: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size S)
Jacket: Nordstrom (similar, similar, similar)
Leggings: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size S)
Shoes: (exact—wearing size 9)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (similar—I wear size M)


There you have it! If you’re looking for casual tops and want to make sure they will be versatile, quickly think through a few of your casual bottoms and check if the tops will work with at least two of them. If it helps, once again, my quick list is casual bottoms is jeans, black jeans, leggings, and joggers. Hopefully that helps you make better purchases to build a wardrobe that allows you to do more with less!

Remember, if you almost always have a hard time finding 2-3 things to go with a piece, then you would really, REALLY benefit from learning how to utilize wardrobe staples! When I was first trying to build a more versatile, cohesive wardrobe, it was sooo hard for me to find 2-3 things to go with something new. I felt stuck every time! I actually felt like it was nearly impossible(!) and wondered what was this wizardry that allowed someone to do that and why I couldn’t? (It sounds a little dramatic to say that now, since mixing and matching has become so easy! 😆 But that is seriously what went through my head each time I tried.)

Then I filled my closet with wardrobe staples. And over time I learned how to utilize them with simple outfit formulas, learning how to dress them up and down and make multiple outfits with one piece. If you want to learn all that too, I consolidated it all into a nifty guide called the Wardrobe Staples Styler. It guides you through how to maximize what’s already in your wardrobe by adding just a few wardrobe staples and then gives you the outfit formulas and outfit vault of examples to help you make the most of your wardrobe, doing more with less, so you’ll always have something to wear. Check it all out HERE!


More Casual Long Sleeve Options

If you want more casual long sleeve options, I’ve rounded up a bunch below! Scroll through the widget to shop.

Wardrobe Staples Styler to Create Outfits With Wardrobe Staples

Make your wardrobe easy to use and do MORE with LESS! Learn to maximize what’s already in your wardrobe with wardrobe staples and plug-and-play outfit formulas so you’ll always have something to wear! Check out the Wardrobe Staples Styler, HERE.

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