Penelope Cruz (who happens to be 36) manages to look fresh, chic and casual all at once in this great ensemble.

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Casual Looks in Your 30s

When it comes to casual fashions, there are far fewer rules than with professional looks. In fact, some long-accepted fashion conventions have recently been debunked by leading fashion experts. It's now OK to wear white after Labor Day, mix prints, and combine silver and gold jewelry. But this doesn't mean that all of fashion's commandments have gone out the window -- Thou shall not wear stirrup pants unless you're riding a horse.

For 30-something gals, the one rule you should steadfastly follow is: Fit is everything. You can invest a fortune in designer duds, but they'll look cheap if they're ill fitting. Likewise, you can make an inexpensive garment look like a million bucks by having it altered to fit you perfectly. Besides making friends with a good tailor, follow these shopping tips to make the most of your body type:

  • Hide a tummy with a structured jacket and trousers with a wide waistband.
  • Minimize wide hips by wearing jeans and trousers with wider leg openings.
  • Create curves by pairing a ruffled shirt with a pencil skirt or skinny jeans.

Denim is the quintessential American fabric that looks great on women of all ages. But buying jeans for our 30-something bodies may take time and a bit of patience to find the right pair. Remember that the rise and cut of your jeans determine the overall shape. A lower rise is universally flattering, but be sure to fit the widest part of your body and then tailor down. Otherwise, you'll end up with a "muffin top." For more on finding the right jeans, check out these denim fit and find guides.

Going casual typically means you don't have to work very hard, which is great for women on the go. But why not take a moment for finishing touches before you head out the door. Pop on a pair of earrings, give your lips a swipe of gloss and grab a bright-colored bag. Whether you're headed to the park, the movies or the grocery store, you'll feel better knowing you look great.

Now let's get ready for a night on the town.