One of the most dreaded events in every man’s life is when he looks at the dress code on an invitation and it reads smart casual. The issue with smart casual is that no one really knows what it is. Is it smart? Is it casual? How can you combine the two?
Luckily for you, Mainline Menswear has figured it out. We’re going to give you an inside look into what smart casual truly is, and how you can best pull it off.
What is smart casual?
Smart casual attire can really range from almost anything. It means achieving an informal look without looking like you’re just off to the pub, or taking your kids to football practise on the weekend.
Smart causal is a respectable look, where you generally look at your outfit in two halves. If you want to wear jeans, pair them with a shirt and sports jacket for a smart casual look. Or, if you’re wearing smarter trousers, you can just simply wear a polo shirt on top.
With the smart casual scale, there are of course outfits that are leaning more towards simply being smart, and other looks which could just be classed as casual. In light of this we’re going to look more closely at three options: the smartest smart casual look you can achieve; a look sitting in the middle of the scale, and a more casual choice.
‘Smart’ smart casual
The smartest version of a smart casual look is basically just one step down from wearing a suit. For this outfit we suggest pairing chinos with boat shoes on your bottom half. Then combine this with a crisp, pressed shirt in white or light blue, matched with a brightly coloured blazer or sports jacket.
This combination of white/cream chinos, and a lightly coloured shirt contrasts excellently against a brightly coloured jacket, and means that everyone will notice your style. This outfit is best worn to upscale events, like a garden party, or a day out at the races. You can also wear this to outdoor drinks events, or a wedding reception.
‘Medium’ smart casual
One option is matching chinos and boat shoes with a polo top. This look tells others that you understand the dress code, and aren’t afraid to fall in line. The second option would be wearing jeans, preferably in a dark blue with a tapered design. Pair these with a shirt and blazer, so people can see that even though you’re wearing jeans, you understand this is a more formal event than usual.
This look can be worn when out to dinner with friends, attending a family party or on dress down Friday’s at the office.
‘Casual’ smart casual
Finally, there is the most casual version of smart casual attire. This look is just one step away from what you would tend to wear around the house on a Saturday. For a casual smart casual look, you just really have to care what people will think of you.
This means not picking up the jeans and t-shirt from the floor that you wore yesterday, and just putting a little more thought into your outfit. Pairing skinny jeans with a loose fitting top, or matching the colours from your shoes to the colours in your accessories.
Smart causal really isn’t that hard to pull off. You just need to apply yourself a little bit more than you usually would, and be aware of what works with what. Look at patterns and colours, and try and rank how formal the event will be before you decide what to wear. If in doubt, always dress up – it’s much better to look smart than it is to look casual!