June 01, 2018 2 min read

Smart casual can be a frustrating oxymoron in the world of fashion, yet it is one of the most common dress codes that you will come across. It has been a popular rule of dressing for some time, giving you an extra option alongside business wear and casual ensembles. However, it can feel like a minefield trying to dress to a smart casual dress code.

This hybrid dress style suggests a transitional ensemble; somewhere in between dressing up and dressing down, while still allowing your personality to shine through. According to some, it can mean almost anything that’s smarter than a tracksuit, which doesn’t really help! So, if you’re hoping for some clarity, here is a guide for men’s smart casual wear.

Both formal and informal

Following a smart casual dress code gives you the choice to break it down further, into formal and informal wear. This can help you to make a decision on your style depending on the occasion; after all, we doubt you’d wear the same outfit to a garden BBQ as you would to lunch with the in-laws.

It can be very much up to interpretation. However, ‘formal’ smart casual and ‘informal’ smart casual can provide you with two very helpful dress codes depending on the event in hand, even if it does seem a little confusing at first.

Formal smart casual should include ensembles like a jacket or blazer, chinos, a smart shirt with a collar and smart shoes. On the other hand, the informal version can include polo shirts and dark coloured jeans.

Appearance and style

Probably one of the most useful things to remember about smart casual is the appearance of your clothes. Any ensemble can immediately look better if your clothes have been pressed and polished to perfection. For instance, an immaculate t-shirt with dark jeans and box-fresh trainers will probably look much better than a creased shirt and scuffed shoes!

It’s important to remember that just because a particular event isn’t fancy, it doesn’t mean you make minimal effort with your appearance.

With the right attitude, you can ensure even a more casual outfit looks very presentable.

Creating smart casual easily

If you’re still not sure, you can follow a practical approach by starting with a casual outfit and then chance one or two pieces for a smarter alternative. You can change your jacket, top, trousers or shoes to make an outfit appear a little more formal if needs be.

If you’re really not sure on the dress code or what to wear, err more on the side of formal. It’s always better to be over dressed, rather than under dressed, and you’ll always look like you’ve made the effort!