You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘smart casual’ a thousand times, particularly since leaving school and entering the professional world, but do you really know what it means? Are you confident in your choice of clothing, or do you find yourself stressing about wearing the wrong thing more often than not? Relax – it doesn’t have to be too complicated. Make sure you’re nailing smart casual whether you’re at the office or heading to a wedding with these style rules.
- Ditch the jeans. Denim is a tough one for smart casual dress codes. In some scenarios, a dark and well-fitted set of jeans can look just fine. However, it’s easy to get this one wrong and end up looking underdressed amongst a sea of business casual outfits. Play it safe with chino pants instead of denim, and go for a regular length instead of cropped to keep the smart in smart casual.
- Opt for smart shirts. A smart casual shirt usually includes a collar and a fairly neutral pattern or colour palette. Buy a few button-up shirts and unbutton the first few notches to keep it casual. You can probably skip the tie, as a button-up with a tie can end-up looking slightly overdressed at smart casual events. Make sure your collar is rigid enough to stand on its own without a tie – a floppy collar looks unprofessional and unkempt, so you’ll need to make sure your shirt is up to the task. Keep your shirts crisp and ironed to look business-ready at any moment.
- Be careful with t-shirts. A smart casual invitation doesn’t necessarily mean you absolutely cannot wear a t-shirt. T-shirts paired with a sharp blazer can certainly look smart, as long as you choose the shirt in question wisely. Stay away from logos, branding, and slogans of any kind, and stick with classic cuts and clean colours. Make sure the shirt is neat and nicely ironed before pairing it with your trousers and heading out.
- Invest in blazers. A good blazer or suit jacket is the essential staple of any smart casual wardrobe. It can elevate even the most basic outfit and make you look stylish and sophisticated. The jacket should be snug against your shoulders, back, and chest, with no gaping around the armpit or shoulder area. If you have an awkward body type and struggle to find jackets that fit appropriately, it’s definitely worth buying a style you love and taking it to be tailored by an expert. Cover your seasonal bases by investing in a heavier warm wool blazer for winter and some lighter cotton and linen options for spring and summer.
- Dress up your shoes. When it comes to smart casual, some men are tempted to whip out their favourite trainers and hope for the best. This is usually an error, albeit a common one. Stick to classic shoe styles like Oxfords, brogues, loafers, or laced leather dress shoes when the invitation asks for smart casual. Be careful with colour and stick with black or brown unless you’re feeling confident enough to get creative. Good quality leather shoes should last quite a while, especially if you take good care of them and give them regular polishing and cleaning sessions.