Smart Casual Dress Code Explained By Celebrity Stylist
The term ‘smart casual’ is notoriously ambiguous; the concern of appearing under or overdressed at a function can cause any man to sweat. Luckily, there are a few guidelines for this dress code that will avoid a fashion faux pas if followed.
What Is Smart Casual?
When invited to a smart casual event, as the name suggests you should aim for something between ‘smart’ and ‘casual.’ You want to look relaxed but still respectable. When in doubt, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, so lean towards the ‘smart’ side of ‘smart casual.’ But a smart casual dress code doesn’t mean you have to look stuffy or compromise your style; there are plenty of ways to incorporate your unique taste into this dress code.
Smart Casual Clothing Pieces
Smart Casual Jackets and Coats
An unstructured fit is preferable for men’s smart casual attire. Select a jacket with soft, natural shoulders that frame the physique. Jackets made from lighter fabrics like linen are perfect for the summer months. A wool or wool-silk blend will keep you both warm and provide a classic look for cooler seasons. Fabrics with a unique texture or subtle pattern provide points of interest that timelessly display your style. Leather and bomber jackets are acceptable for that classic James Dean look but ensure the other pieces are neat. A gentleman’s jacket should let you move from day to evening effortlessly and should be easily paired with various pant types.
Smart Casual Shirts and T-Shirts
When it comes to shirts, avoid thin cotton t-shirts with bold prints.A button-down is a safe betwhen it comes to men’s smart-casual attire. Stay away from over-starched white button-downs: these are too formal. A linen or cotton button-down would go perfectly with some chinos or slim-fit trousers in summer. In winter, opt for a long-sleeve button-down layered with a merino wool jumper, herringbone jacket, and scarf. A subtle pattern like stripes or a fine hounds tooth would fit a smart casual dress code. If you’d prefer a louder pattern, balance it out with classic, neutral pieces.
Smart Casual Pants and Jeans
Smart casual pants come in cotton, cotton stretch blends, wool, and denim. For a neat look, avoid ripped jeans and stick to a pant style that comfortably fits the length of your leg without creating a dramatic break; this offers a modern, streamlined look that isn’t too formal. Your pants should be fitted but not overly tight. Chinos or dark-wash denim jeans will cover most bases. In winter, wool, denim, or corduroy pants go well with leather boots, a blazer or jumper, and an overshirt. In warmer months, opt for light-coloured linen blend pants. The right smart casual pants will complement your shirt and flatter your figure whilst maintaining a suitably professional feel.
Smart Casual Shorts
For those concerned about how to dress smart casual in summer, shorts are a viable option if a few guidelines are followed. Firstly, to stay cool and occasion-appropriate in hotter months, make sure the shorts rest above the knee and are tailored. This shows that effort was put in and separates them from informal recreation-style shorts.
A linen or cotton-linen blend would be appropriate and comfortable. If the rest of your outfit is understated, a tasteful pattern could show your creative flair. Wear your shorts with some clean white trainers or boat shoes and complete the outfit with a leather belt and button-up shirt in a complimentary colour.
Smart Casual Shoes
When deciding on shoes, account for the setting and the weather. If the event is a farm wedding, leave the clean white trainers and go with some soft leather boots instead. If it’s an alfresco dinner, loafers would go perfectly with a linen-heavy outfit. Concerning smart casual shoes, boots, boat shoes, sneakers, and derbies are standard choices. For winter months, derbies and boots can be elegantly paired with dark-wash jeans or woolen pants. In summer, boat shoes or clean, high-end sneakers will complement linen pants or tailored shorts.
Smart Casual Accessories
Accessories will tie an outfit together and elevate it from average to memorable. A watch, leather bracelet, signet ring, or buttery leather belt will give your outfit that final touch. Also, consider selecting socks that tie together the various tones in the look and show the individuals creative touch. As for ties, most smart casual attire omits them, but they can add a professional touch with an understated look. Look for knitted or cotton/linen ties for a more smart casual flavour.
Your smart casual work attire should be more conservative than what you’d wear to a dinner party. Try some grey denim trousers with a checked shirt and navy blazer. Pair it with some suede boots in winter or clean canvas shoes in summer. Accessorise with a watch so you can stay on time for your meetings.
To combat the heat in summer, your smart casual clothes should be comprised of linen or linen-cotton blends and favour lighter colours. Tuck a striped cotton button-up into some white canvas pants. Complete the look with some loafers and accessorise with sunglasses and classy wristwatch.
Smart Casual FAQ
Are Jeans Smart Casual?
Jeans are smart casual, but make sure you choose a cut that fits well with no rips or fraying hems. A dark wash is best, but lighter washes can work too.
Is A T-shirt Smart Casual?
A t-shirt can be smart casual. Choose a crew-neck style in a high-quality material. Avoid prints and style untucked with the hem just on the beltline. Tuck the t-shirt in if wearing pleated tailored trousers.
Are Chinos Smart Casual?
Chinos are the quintessential smart casual pant. Light colours are best for summer and darker ones for autumn and winter. Make sure they fit well and are not baggy around the ankle or hips.
Are Polo Shirts Smart Casual?
Because polo shirts are on the casual side, wear them with dressier pants like chinos. Neutral colours are also better than bright colours when it comes to smart casual attire.
Does Smart Casual Include Shorts?
Shorts can be appropriate for summer smart casual attire, but make sure they sit above the knee, are tailored, and are made of a suitable material like a linen-cotton blend.
Complete your outfit with the right attitude: respect and confidence are accessories a man should never be without. Round out your smart casual attire with generous speech and a confident walk. With the right materials and colours, you can create a memorable smart casual outfit for any occasion. If you’d like help deciding on the style and fit of your smart casual outfit, book a session with Godwin Charli and make your fashion aspirations a reality.
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