You might’ve been invited to a wedding, birthday party or interview with the dress code ‘smart casual’. But the line can sometimes become blurred between too formal and too casual, so what should you be wearing?
When to follow this dress code
If you haven’t been told what to wear, it can be hard to decide if you should go smart or casual. Some offices and workplaces have ‘dress down Fridays’ or a casual dress code every day. However, it’s still nice to make an effort and look reasonably smart — even if this doesn’t involve a three-piece suit and tie.
Smart casual often means to avoid a tuxedo as this can be too formal, but also staying clear of jeans and a T-shirt. Or, for a first interview — it may specify casual in the email, but first impressions count and your outfit should still be carefully considered.
Invest in staple pieces
You don’t need to purchase a whole new outfit to dress smart casual — purchase a few staple pieces instead.
A blazer is a good garment to own. It depends on your fashion preferences as to what sort of blazer you opt for — just choose one that you feel confident in and it will show. An unstructured blazer is perfect for men who prefer a relaxed look and who want to avoid a rigid and overly tailored shape. Some believe that these are more comfortable too, as they are without inner folds and allow you to move more freely. A structured blazer, on the other hand, emphasises the shape of the body. It gives more of a snug fit to the wearer and is generally more expensive, as it takes great skill to create an impressive jacket of this style. Navy is a good choice for a blazer as it is very versatile and not as formal as the traditional black jacket.
Consider purchasing some smart footwear if you don’t own any. Depending on your preferences, choose a pair of brogues or loafers to complete a smart casual look. Brogues are uber stylish and recognisable by their detailed leather uppers and thin laces. Loafers, on the other hand, are lower shoes so the ankle is exposed, they do not have laces and often have a low heel. They can be seen as less formal than the brogue because more of the foot is on show. In terms of colour, brown is a good colour to go for as it can be paired with denim or smart trousers, whereas black may be too dark to complement some colours.
A pair of smart, yet stylish trousers are a good investment to make too. A light pair of chinos are a good option for warmer weather, as they can brighten up your outfit whilst keeping you looking smart. If you feel more comfortable in jeans, try to choose a darker denim as this gives off a more formal vibe — just avoid distressed or ripped denim at all costs.
What to wear on top?
Every aspect of your outfit is important, so what should you be wearing on top? Retailers of men’s shirts, CT Shirts, tell us more:
A roll-neck jumper
The classic roll-neck can look fashionable and uber smart. For the colder months especially, a roll-neck jumper is perfect for layering and looking smart. Pair a black wool roll-neck with a grey slim fit jacket and coloured pocket square to become the master of business casual. Match your socks with your pocket square for co-ordination and wear your favourite pair of swanky trousers.
Loosen your collar
One way to make your smart shirt more casual, is to loosen a few buttons. An open collar shirt paired with a double-breasted jacket can create an ideal look for the fashion-conscious gentleman. Choose complementing colours for the shirt and blazer, such as different hues of blue or grey, to really make your outfit come together. Slip into tailored trousers, chinos or jeans and pair with brogues to complete the look.
Now you know how to dress for smart casual, you’ll never be stuck for what to wear again. Of course, keeping your outfit neat and tidy is important too, so don’t let smaller details drop you into the ‘casual’ bracket. Have a lint roller on hand before leaving the house and make sure you always look your best.