How To Pull Off Smart Casual

Written by Marc | 10/10/2016



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 this dreaded dress code 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.

Smart 1

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 practice on the weekend.

It’s 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 a sports jacket for this kind of look. Or, if you’re wearing smarter trousers, you can just simply wear a polo shirt on top.

With this kind of sliding 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 road, 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.Smart 2

This combination of white/cream chinos, and a light-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 wedding receptions. One interpretation of this look is business casual

‘Medium’ smart casual

A look resting at the middle of the scale is the true definition of the s/c phenomenon. Half of your look is smart, the other half is casual – and you can choose whichever half to be which. Smart casual style - jeans and a shirt

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 Fridays 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.Smart casual style - jeans and a polo

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 cargo trousers or skinny jeans with a loose-fitting top, or matching the colours from your shoes to the colours in your accessories.

Smart casual 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!

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