Casual Outfit Formula: Graphic Tee + Denim Jacket + Black Jeans

Good morning! Cyndi and I are back today with the 3rd of our 5 casual outfit formulas for moms! Today we’re each styling a graphic tee with a denim jacket, non-blue jeans, and ankle boots (or sneakers.)

When I set up this series, I tried to create 5 outfit formulas that incorporated a variety of wardrobe pieces — different types of footwear, different types and colors of pants, etc. We have an athleisure look coming with sneakers, so I planned this look for ankle boots.

However, when I went to put my outfit together, I decided it would look better with sneakers, so I ended up photographing it both ways! I guess it just goes to show you how versatile these formulas can be. You’ll have to let me know which you like better.

First, let’s discuss this t-shirt. I think it’s hilarious.

We women all know the hustle — whether we are entrepreneurs, an employee at a school or business, or the family CEO, we’re all hustling and trying to get it all done, am I right?

The fun thing about a graphic tee is it can be the foundation for a super casual look, but you can also dress it up. These days I see women wearing graphic tees with pencil skirts and blazers, so there are no rules anymore. It’s all in how you put the pieces together and make them work.

These ankle boots are from The Walking Company. I’ve had them for a few years, so they’re no longer available, but the Umberto Raffini brand is great for those of you who have finicky feet and need stylish footwear options. I linked to the Sam Edelman Petty Chelsea Bootie as a similar option.

When this outfit came together, I felt like the black jeans and black ankle boots looked a little more dressed-up than I had originally intended when I decided on the outfit formula, so I decided to go with it and glam it up a bit. I grabbed a red bag and added some bold earrings. I wish I’d thought to put on red lipstick and lightened up on the eye makeup, but I’d already done my makeup when I got around to getting dressed.

The red bag is fun because it pulls from the red in the t-shirt, and it also helps brighten up the look which is overall rather dark, despite the white tee peeking out.

In fact, it’s the white tee against the dark color palette that caused me to want to pull out my white Adidas Superstars.

Yep, I did it. I ordered the ones with the black stripes. The all-white ones would be fine with this outfit, but I often find myself putting on black jeans with casual tops and wanting the sneakers with the black stripes to put the finishing touch on the outfit, so I decided to bite the bullet and order them. This was a fashion blogger decision, not a personal one. For my lifestyle, one pair of Superstars and one pair of Converse is plenty for fashion sneakers, but for the blog, I know I will use these a lot.

It was actually hard to find my size. I had to try a few times, and finally Zappo’s got a few in stock and I snagged them. (You’ll probably want to size down at least a half size in these.) I know I shared in my January Favorites post that I was crushing on the copper ones, and I do love those, but I decided that they were too similar to my all white ones, and it’s the black ones I’m always wishing I had when I go to put outfits together.

You may also notice I changed jean jackets for this second outfit. I generally think black jeans look best with a lighter blue denim, so when I lightened up the look with the white sneakers, I switched to my lighter blue jean jacket.

This one is also cropped. I like the fit of the other one better and the color of this one so I keep holding onto both. I generally like this one better with shorter tops and cropped pants or skirts, but it works okay with this because the shirt is long enough to maintain the overall proportion of the outfit.

I also switched to a black satchel to tone down this second look and keep it more casual. I think it works better with the sneakers than the red clutch.

What do you think? Which look is your favorite?

Shop the Post


graphic tee // AG distressed black jeans (similar for less) // dark denim jacket // similar booties // similar red clutch // similar lighter denim jacket // Adidas Superstars // R Minkoff Mini Perry Satchel // Tala Chandeliers // bracelets c/o Alex and Ani

See all of my casual outfit formulas for moms!

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71 Responses

  1. So I know I’m old fashioned since I”m an older women—therefore I have to vote for the booties with this outfit. To me the sneakers reminds me of the stereotypical American tourist. I know those sneakers are very in style right now, but it’ll take me awhile before I get used to them, I bet!!

  2. Hey Jo-Lynne,
    Loving this series as a mum of two girls under four!
    I actually prefer the ankle boots. More stylish and grown up. I find the combo of graphic tee plus superstars just too teenage-like. You can carry it off no problem, but if I wore this, I’d go for the booties. And the red bag is darling!

  3. Cute outfits! I think I like the boots better…or possibly with your Converse. But, as always you look adorable!!!


  4. Love both of them! And I can recreate something similar with what I own, maybe using my converse or my black booties. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. I love both of these looks. For me it would depend on what I was doing. Lunch and shopping with friends = boots. Running errands and ball games = sneaks. I saw a cute graphic tee the other day that said “Save water, drink wine” that I might have to look for again. That would be cute with the boots for a casual GNO????????.

  6. As always, you look adorable in everything and both outfits work. My preference is for the booties with one change: I would like the look better without the distressed jeans. Why? Because to me the combo of graphic tee + black jeans + jean jacket is already a little edgy (at least for a woman 40+, haha). The distressed jeans just add a little too much edge and make the look a little unpolished (or over-polished?) to my eye. To be honest, I am not a big fan of distressed jeans in general. They look really cute in you and Cindi and add a touch of interest to a outfit when combined with less casual pieces, but where I live in suburban Chicago, I never see them worn by women my age. Of course, maybe that just means I need to get out more….:)

    1. I will have to look around more where I live, lol. I live in a pretty conservative suburb, so I don’t think many wear them here either. The ones who do probably don’t wear the ones with the knees busted out, but they wear some with more modest distressing.

      I have always loved an edgier look, and I used to be more self conscious about trying it, but I think the fashion blogs and instagrammers I follow have given me confidence to go for it. It’s a young look, for sure, but I also feel that I run the risk of looking fussy sometimes, with my v-neck sweaters and ballet flats, so I think the distressing adds a nice texture and a toughness my otherwise classic look.

      I keep seeing reports that the distressing is going to be getting toned down this year, and I think it would be nice to find a happy medium. I’m not a big fan of the ones that are ripped all the way up the leg, or the gaping holes that I still see on some fashion blogs.

  7. Thank you for the link to the Umberto Rafini boots/shoes. A brand I have not tried. I have bought hundreds of shoes (from the very expensive to reasonable) for my finicky (like that) feet. I have had them measured, fit professionally, wear for a day & can hardly walk the next day. And believe it or not, flats are the worst offenders. Boots are the best. And although some lines work better than others, it is often still a crap shoot. I probably only continue to wear about 1/2 of what I buy. Saving grace ~ both daughters wear the same size as I do & they seem to like my style. Either that or they like free shoes!!!

    Love both styles today. I like to study the “balance” you create. Nice job!

    1. Yes, flats ARE the worst when you have finicky feet. I learned that the hard way, lol. I love that I can wear them again, but I still try not to overdo it. The Walking Co has a lot of brands that have some cute options.

  8. Jo*Lynne:
    I do have a question about the jean jackets; are they supposed to cover the bust? When I try one on, they fit through the shoulders, sleeves, and length, but there’s NO WAY they will button over the bust. I feel, on me, this makes it look too small. I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this.

    Both looks suit you; the fashionista with boots, or the busy Mom wearing sneaks! Depends on what your day entails. =)

    1. Hey Bobbi, I hear ya. I think technically they SHOULD button, but not necessarily comfortably or in an attractive way. It shouldn’t be too small through the back or shoulders, but if it fits everywhere else and doesn’t QUITE button, I think it looks better than erring on the side of being too big. It’s hard to find the right fit, especially if you have a chest. I really like both of these, but the light blue is verrry old, from CAbi. I have the Kut from the Kloth one in white too. It has a nice shape to it and stays in place.

  9. Hi Jo-Lynne,

    I really loved both looks. I tend to love more the one that you put on addidas sneaks. As in all previous looks, your style is quite compelling to chic looks, attributed to your sneaker selection. I also liked the cropped black jeans and especially the fact that you avoided wearing socks. This gave a more sporty/trendy look to your outfit. Do you feel adidas sneaks comfy without socks?

    I love to see you in more outfits, maybe combining a wider variety of sneakers, such as nike roshe, and adidas gazelle.

    Keep it up.

  10. Omg….Love your booties.. …I know you said they are old, but do you happen to know the style name? I am also going to check out that other brand. Still on the hunt…..and it doesn’t help when you live in a town that doesn’t have any shopping and you have to travel.

  11. Definitely the boots for me! I am not a sneaker girl except for walking exercise. Oh Jo Lynne I may have to stop reading yours and Cyndi’s blogs! So many cute things I have to have. The Tshirt is on its way to me! But my favorite graphic tee says Old Is The New Black! So appropriate for this 57 year old! Thanks again for a fabulous blog!!

  12. I personally like the sneakers the best, although both looks are fab. I don’t know why I keep hesitating on these Adidas -as much as I wear my Converse, I can totally justify these! Especially since my shorelines are two years old and not looking their best these days.
    Love this graphic tee too! I’m so picky about graphic tees..it always seems that if I like the graphics and colors, I don’t like the saying and vice versa..I guess that’s why I don’t have many!

  13. Boots, non-distressed, first jacket, red clutch, yes!!! But mostly what I like best is the fact that you showed us both looks and talked your way through them . Invaluable as usual!!

  14. As a mom of 3 I would wear both just depending on what I was doing that day. If I was out and about at the park or running the kiddos around I would wear sneakers. If I was doing “grownup” errands I would wear the booties. Speaking of the booties I bought them when you featured them on the blog a year or so back. I pulled them out yesterday to wear and just remembered how comfortable they are, really love the brand (and I think they are still on trend)! I like that you showed us 2 options, I would enjoy more of that in future posts!! The sun is shining in VA today, I hope your day is sunny!!!!

  15. I really like the elevated look of the boots, but I would probably wear the sneakers if I could get away with it! 🙂 I agree with Bonnie, it would depend on what I am doing. Also, love the shirt that Bonnie saw. Woohoo for Wine! Haahaa!

  16. Both are adorable looks!! Depending on what i was doing that day, would be how i would choose my shoes/boots. I love it with the red handbag!!! Pop of color looks great. I LOVE that color lipstick also!!! Can you give us the specifics on that too??? Always adorable!!!!

  17. Either shoe is good, but I really like the longer jacket better.
    I never really think of this formula as an outfit, but with the makeup and jewelry it is. Guess I’ll have to up my game a bit!

  18. The booties look is my fave. Love the red bag with the gold chain and then the bold earings. On another note, I checked out your food section and made your pasta/sausage/spinach recipe last night – I added mozarella cheese for the kiddos and it was a huge hit! Your blog rocks!

  19. I love both looks! I’m 54 and wanted a graphic tee look that was appropriate for me and you nailed it! Running around with my grands I need to be comfortable, but want to look put-together as well. I’d wear this with my converse when I’m with them and put on the booties when I’m out and about on a casual day. Thanks for the inspiration! I clicked the link for the tee and bought the one that says, ‘choose happy’! 🙂

  20. I love this outfit, with boots or sneakers. And that is a great Etsy site. I really love the “I am not a morning person” T shirt there. It’s so cute, and true in my case. I think I am going to have to order it.
    Can you tell me what size you bought?

  21. Hi Jo-Lynne! I prefer the outfit with boots but I can see where the sneakers might be a better option for some people. Your hair looks amazing! Are you still using your Monat shampoo and conditioner? Honestly I think your hair looks thicker in these pictures. Yay!!!!

    1. Hi Emily, I am. I’m about to order more. I do think I might be seeing slightly less hair loss, and I like the texture of my hair and the scent of the products, so I’m going to keep using it and hope to see more improvement as time goes on.

  22. I like it with the booties and red purse! The style of the bag is classy which offsets the edgy of the distressed jeans (to me anyway, and what do I know?!) I only have one graphic t and think I need to add another to my wardrobe! This is a really cute look!

  23. Hi Jo-Lynne! I like both looks but I think the sneakers one is actually my fav!!!! You do such a great job of putting nice outfits together! Hope you have a great day and see some sunshine. Hugs!

  24. I bought the Stan Smith Adidas that look just like those a few months back. Haven’t worn them yet. Cute outfit idea!

  25. I had these adidas with silver/gray stripes years ago and I loved them. funny how things make their way back around. 🙂 I like both outfits,..very cute!

    1. It runs fairly TTS, maybe a tad small. I have the medium, and I couldn’t wear it any smaller. It does stretch, though, so I pulled on it a bit so it wasn’t so form-fitting.

  26. Hard call. I would wear both equally. Rainy weather (we got it good in California), I’d pull on the boots; with sunshine I’d go Adidas. I always get a boost of energy and confidence when I wear my Adidas! Hey Jo-Lynne, not sure if you have the time but I would enjoy seeing you take on a Walmart challenge. This would be way out of your comfort zone, I think? Pick your categories…Date Night, Work Outfit, Everyday Casual, Church Attire and/or Activewear. I shop all over the place but find myself pleasantly surprised 5-6 times a year with my purchases at Walmart. Certainly tough to beat the prices. It’s just a thought. I do enjoy all aspects of your blog, but the pops of trunk club, travel and family pieces are always extra fun to read.

  27. Well I’m no help…I like them both. I agree with another reader. I think it depends on what you are doing. Day to day errands or lunch with the girls…booties. Weekend wear…sneakers. I just ordered white Converse and can’t wait to start mixing them in. Have a great day Jo-Lynne!

  28. Love the tee! Just curious as to the sizing. You sometimes state the size you are wearing for reference.

    1. Yes, it is a medium. It’s pretty TTS, maybe a bit on the small side, but it does stretch out some if you want it to. It’s a nice, thick cotton – not see through at all.

  29. Hi Jo-Lynne! Just wanted to let you know how much I am loving these outfit formulas! I think a lot of women struggle with putting outfits together, even if they have a ton of stylish items in their closet! When you and Cyndi finish this series, y’all need to make a cute graphic of the formulas (with or without pics) to help us remember them. I would totally frame it and hang it in my closet! Also, I would love to see a post with lots of different sneakers, especially some that look a little dressier than converses. I’m also getting to the point where flats are not a good option for my feet. I’d love to see some cute alternatives!

  30. Hi
    I like both, like many comments before me. Weekend trip to the market or just running errands the sneakers. Lunch out or a dress down day at work the booties. I have the all white Adidas and the last time I wore them to work on a dress down day I surprised several coworkers with the relaxed look but also got a lot of compliments. I agree these run a bit big. Not a huge fan of distressed jeans, and I would definitely not wear them to work. Love the tee, so fun!
    Thanks for the inspiration

  31. I like this outfit formula a lot. I prefer the boots because a) I love boots and b) white sneakers with black jeans looks like you threw them on to avoid walking in your boots. I’m not a fan of the torn jeans, I’ve always fet like they look silly on anyone over 25.Like you have your daughter’s clothes on.

  32. The t-shirt and that red purse just made my day. I love it when you and Cyndi do any collaborations; I always look so forward to them.

  33. I’d wear the first outfit with the booties. I just don’t love the sporty sneakers for me. I did just order some Dr. Scholls slip-one for our trip to Ireland, though. They’re a little less ‘sporty’ but oh, so comfy. Now I’ll be spending my day down the Etsy rabbit hole looking for the perfect graphic tee!

  34. Love the casual outfits, but wondering if you have any plans to feature some cocktail attire soon? Every year, we attend a gala in March and I think March may be the worst month ever for cocktail dresses. It still feels like winter, but the stores are filled with either holiday clearance, resort wear, or Spring/Summer gowns. I never know what to wear. Would love some ideas for transitional cocktail attire. Thx!!

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