Gents, and ladies in fact, we are all familiar with the term “smart casual”, aren’t we? When we see it on an invite for a party, event or even job description, do we embrace it and feel happy or does it fill us with dread?
The dread part is easy to understand because for some people “smart casual” is quite a broad umbrella term. Either people get it completely wrong or think it’s open to interpretation. Perhaps it is. At Dapper Dude though, we’ve been asked by Chums to define what we see as being smart casual and offer suggestions for outfits for both men and women.
Interestingly, many businesses don’t make it easier because there is a lot of difference in opinion to what smart casual means and this can depend on several things like the age of employees, culture, climate, geography, how much interaction there is between staff and customers, how many employees work for a business, the company size and industry.
Generally speaking, and this is where we feel we stand at Dapper Dude, smart casual is smarter than business casual but not nearly as formal as boardroom attire. So, think professional but with an air of informality to it.
Before we give our own interpretation of smart casual for men and women, it might be a good idea for us to discuss what we feel is acceptable and out of question if you’re expected to wear smart casual attire.
T-shirts epitomize informality and are most a great choice of clothing. If you want to look laid-back and chilled out, you wear a t-shirt. That seems to travel well between genders. However, unless it’s “Dress Down Friday” at your office, you should never wear a T-shirt to work, whether you are male or female, if the dress code is smart casual. T-shirts are not professional looking, so even though they tick the box for casual, they are not smart enough.
Jeans Are Okay, If…
On the opposite end of things, this is a mistake many people make, we feel. They wrongly think jeans is not smart casual. At Dapper Dude, it is very much our opinion that jeans are accepted if…they meet a certain criterion. Sure, we wouldn’t expect to get away with wearing heavily distressed, whether its naturally or manufactured that way, jeans with holes in them.
Despite their casual appearance, a good pair of jeans CAN look professional. We’d advise anyone considering jeans as smart casual attire to wear a more tailored pair that sit on the waist properly and that are not too wide in the leg department. Again, this applies to both men and women. While women can always get away with tighter fitting jeans, if they are too figure hugging, they will start to look less and less professional.
Leave the Ties, Suits and Power Dresses at Home
Wearing a well-fitting jacket or blazer with some smart trousers and a nice shirt, is fine. Wearing a matching suit jacket and trousers with a shirt and tie – is not. If it is something you’d wear to a formal wedding or black-tie event, you’re leaning far too heavily on the smart side of things. The same goes for women, leave those power dresses at home. Although you want to dress like you’re a professional woman on the up, you don’t want to overdo it.
Trainers Are a Big No-No
We really shouldn’t have to say it, but trainers do not constitute smart casual. Even if you have a pair of those trainers that are not multi-coloured and stand-out like a sore thumb, they still don’t count. For ladies, closed toe pumps are a good choice or a similar flat foot affair. For men, there’s nothing wrong with leather and suede shoes, but just be careful not to go too far towards dress shoes. Smart loafers or moccasins are perfect.
Before we reveal our ideal outfits for both men and women, it’s worth considering an important point.
Why It Matters
Perhaps you think it shouldn’t matter. If you aren’t going overboard, wearing a tie when everyone else isn’t is no bad thing. The problem is that, you may want to stand out from the crowd and that’s good in some ways. However, in a business or work scenario, if you go too far, it could look pretentious and could affect worker morale.
Smart Casual for Men
The smart casual outfit we’d suggest for men is: Vibrant plain or patterned shirt, blazer or smart jacket with dressy trousers and moccasins or loafers.
Smart Casual for Women
And for women: Bright shirts, trendy tailored-style jacket and skirt with statement jewellery and closed toe pumps.