Smart casual is one of the most popular dress codes for men, and it can be a tricky one to get right. It’s not quite formal, but it’s not entirely casual either.
Because of this, men often mess it up and who could blame us? It’s often not clear what ‘smart casual’ actually means.
Fear not, however, if you’re unsure of what to wear for a smart casual occasion, here are eight tips to help you get it right.
01 Invest In Good-Quality Versatile Classics
Smart casual is all about mixing more formal items with less formal ones but for a basic to go well with a more formal piece, they need to be of good quality.
Investing in good quality classic items is key to building a versatile wardrobe that can be adapted to any smart casual occasion. A well-fitting dress shirt, for example, is a wardrobe staple that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. A white dress shirt is a classic choice that can be worn with a suit for a more formal look or paired with jeans for a casual yet put-together outfit.
Chinos and dark jeans are also essential basic pieces that can be worn in a variety of ways. Chinos can be paired with a blazer for a smart casual look or worn with a sweater or polo shirt for a more relaxed but still smart outfit. Dark jeans, on the other hand, can be dressed up with a blazer or dressed down with a sweater or casual button-down.
A blazer or sport coat is another basic piece that can elevate any outfit. A navy blazer is a versatile option that can be worn with chinos, dress pants, or jeans, and can be paired with a dress shirt or a more casual shirt depending on the occasion. A sport coat, which is typically less structured than a blazer, can be worn with jeans or dress pants for a smart casual look.
Overall, investing in good quality basics is a smart move when it comes to smart casual dressing. These pieces will form the foundation of your wardrobe and can be mixed and matched with other items to create a variety of outfits for any occasion.
02 Remember, fit is key
Finding the right fit is essential when it comes to dressing smart casual. Ill-fitting clothes can make even the most expensive outfit look sloppy and unkempt.
When shopping for clothes, don’t be afraid to try on different sizes and styles until you find the perfect fit for your body type. Keep in mind that different brands may have different sizing, so it’s always a good idea to try things on before making a purchase.
Visiting a tailor is also a great way to ensure that your clothes fit perfectly. A tailor can take precise measurements of your body and make alterations to your clothes so that they fit you like a glove. This is especially important if you have an unusual body shape.
Pay attention to details like the length of your pants, the sleeves of your shirt, and the width of your blazer. These small adjustments can make a big difference in how your outfit looks and feels. Remember, a well-fitted outfit will not only make you look more stylish but also feel more confident and comfortable.
03 Keep it simple
One of the benefits of keeping it simple when it comes to smart casual dressing is that it allows you to create a versatile wardrobe that can be worn for a variety of occasions.
Neutral colors and classic styles are easy to mix and match, which means you can create multiple outfits with just a few key pieces. This is not only convenient, but it can also save you money in the long run.
Additionally, simple and classic pieces tend to age well and can be worn for years to come, making them a worthwhile investment for your wardrobe.
04 Consider the occasion
Smart casual can mean different things for different occasions, so it’s important to consider where you’ll be wearing your outfit.
A smart casual outfit for a business meeting will be different than a smart casual outfit for a night out with friends. For a business meeting, you may want to opt for a more traditional look with a blazer, dress pants, and a collared shirt. For a night out, you could choose a stylish t-shirt or sweater, a pair of well-fitting jeans or chinos, and a sport jacket.
Additionally, consider the location of the event. If you’ll be in a more formal setting like a fancy restaurant, opt for a dressier outfit. For an evening event, darker colors and dressier fabrics like wool or tweed might be more suitable.
If the event is outdoors or more casual, you can choose a more relaxed outfit. Always check the dress code and research the location beforehand to ensure you choose the right outfit for the occasion. If you’re going to a daytime event, like a wedding or a brunch, lighter colors and fabrics can be appropriate.
05 Err on the side of ‘smart’
Dressing too casually can give off the impression that you don’t care about the occasion or the people involved. It can also make you appear unprofessional, which can be detrimental in certain settings such as job interviews or business meetings.
By erring on the side of smart, you show that you take the event seriously and have put effort into your appearance. It can also help you feel more confident and comfortable in your outfit, which can translate to a better overall experience.
Additionally, dressing smart can help you stand out in a positive way, especially in a sea of people who may be underdressed. It’s important to remember that dressing well is not just about impressing others, but also about feeling good about yourself and presenting yourself in the best possible way.
06 Don’t forget the shoes
Your shoes can make or break your outfit, so it’s important to choose them wisely.
In general, I’d say it’s best to stick to classic styles like loafers, oxfords, or Chelsea boots, and avoid anything too casual like sneakers or sandals. When it comes to color, brown and black are the most versatile options and can be worn with a variety of outfits. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished to complete your look.
In addition to the style and color, it’s also important to consider the formality of the shoes. For example, a pair of suede loafers might be appropriate for a more casual smart casual outfit, while a pair of leather oxfords would be better suited for a more formal event.
Finally, make sure your shoes are comfortable, especially if you’ll be standing or walking for extended periods of time.
07 Accessorize wisely
Accessorizing is a great way to add personality to your outfit, but it’s important not to overdo it. A simple watch, tie, or pocket square can add a touch of elegance, but too many accessories can make you look like you’re trying too hard. Choose one or two accessories that complement your outfit and add to your overall look.
08 Layers are your friend
Layering is a great way to add depth and texture to your outfit. A simple sweater or cardigan can be worn over a dress shirt, or a vest can be worn under a blazer for added warmth and style. When layering, make sure the pieces complement each other and fit well. Layering is a skill that can take some practice, so experiment with different combinations to find what works best for you.
To sum up, dressing smart casual requires investing in good quality versatile classics, paying attention to fit, keeping it simple, considering the occasion, erring on the side of smart, and not forgetting the shoes.
By following these guidelines, you can create a wardrobe that is both stylish and functional and can be adapted to any smart casual occasion. Remember that dressing well is not just about impressing others, but also about feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin.
So, take the time to find pieces that suit your style and body type, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations until you find what works best for you.
As always, we hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you have any other tips or tricks for dressing smart casual, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. If you would like a more specific guide on some smart casual items, check out our guide to dressing Ivy League Style which can help you to create a very versatile smart casual wardrobe.