You might’ve been asked to follow a smart casual dress code for an event that you’re attending. The line can sometimes become blurred between looking too formal and too casual, so what should you and your partner be wearing? CT Shirts, retailers of men’s blue suits, gave us some advice.
Opting for business casual
For some events, you might not be provided with any guidance on what to wear. 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 ballgown or three-piece suit and tie.
On the other hand, an invite might specifically say ‘smart casual’. At a dinner party for example, a men’s shirt and tuxedo or ball gown is not expected but slack jeans and a T-shirt would be looked down upon. Or, for a first interview — it may specify casual in the email, but first impressions count and your outfit should still be carefully considered.
Go for a smart casual look to be safe. It avoids the error of looking like you don’t take pride in your appearance and prevents you feeling out of place by dressing too formally.
It doesn’t have to be expensive
It’s unlikely you’ll need to buy an entirely new wardrobe if you need to dress smart casual. Just a few garments will do the trick.
A blazer can be one way to look good. 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. For men, an unstructured blazer is perfect for those who prefer a relaxed look and 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. For women, a structured blazer 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.
Get some nice footwear. 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.
Choose some trousers that you’re comfortable in. For men, a light pair of chinos is 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.
Putting it all together
To dress smart casual as a woman, you can put on a smart midi dress or pair a shirt with tapered trousers and a cropped hem. What about men? How do they rock the look?
Layer with a smart jumper
Purchase a smart jumper for the colder seasons. 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.
A casual shirt
For a male, a loose-fitting shirt is one way to look smart casual. 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, or jeans and pair with brogues to complete the look.
Dressing smart casual isn’t so difficult after all! Of course, keeping your outfit neat and tidy is important too, so don’t let smaller details drop you into the ‘casual’ bracket.