The smart casual dress code
Anything smarter than a tracksuit but less formal than a suit falls under the smart casual category. A blazer, white shirt, clean pants, and brown loafers are a great combination for this dress code.
An outfit comprising a jacket or blazer, flannels, drawstring pants, or chinos (not jeans), a shirt with a collar (not a T-shirt), and nice shoes (not necessary lace-ups, but not trainers or sandals) are considered formal smart casual. An informal smart casual outfit, however, may consist of smart, clean, dark-colored jeans and a polo shirt, as opposed to collarless T-shirts. The smart casual dress code is difficult to define in part because it might signify very different things in different situations. Therefore, it's as much a perception as it is a physical appearance.
Smart Casual or Casual?
When it comes to the distinction between casual and smart casual, the latter might be thought of as a step-up. While casual wear can be as simple as a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, smart casual can include a collared polo instead of a standard tee or darker-wash denim.
Another difference is that smart casual gives you a more polished appearance. Smart casual has an aura of professionalism, or at the very least, some thinking behind your outfit, whereas casual might come across as slouchy or lazy (baggy jeans, we're looking at you).
Casual outfits, on the other hand, might be a terrific place to start when looking for the perfect smart casual outfit. Start with items from your everyday clothing, then add some more sophisticated pieces or a splash of colour. This should lead you to an outfit that is a touch fancier than everyday wear while yet remaining comfortable and true to your personal style.
Dressing Smart tips
Remember that the smart casual dress code is a spectrum rather than a set specification, so when you're gearing up an outfit, think about the vibes you want to portray on that spectrum. Here are a few key points to keep in mind.
Start by going casual
To begin the smart casual look, start with the casual end of the spectrum. Wear what you'd wear in a casual setting, then replace one or two items with something more formal. Start with a simple pair of jeans, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a pair of sneakers. This is a classic casual appearance that can also easily be dressed up.
All you have to do is replace the hoodie with an unstructured blazer to turn it into smart casual. Alternatively, keep the hoodie and replace the sneakers with a slimline bomber jacket and Derby shoes.
Keep it simple
If you're unsure, don't go too far. Dark denim trousers, chinos, Oxford shirts, unstructured navy blazers, and basic knitwear are tried-and-true wardrobe staples. When it comes to smart casual, understatement is frequently the key.
Pick complementary colours
When dressing smart-casually, separates may be worn instead of a typical suit. Of course, this entails wearing a blazer and trousers that are not each other’s match. If you're going to do this, stick to muted, complementary colours, such as classic grey wool trousers with a navy blazer and a white shirt. Try earthy tones like green, stone, and brown for a less jarring look.
Pay attention to details
Pay more attention to details in smart casual attires since they make all the difference. This includes details such as making sure your pants aren't too long (if they are, have them cropped to end just above your shoes); making sure your leather shoes are clean or polished; matching your leathers so your belt and shoes don't clash; and so on. These finer points are crucial to make your overall look polished and classy.
Key pieces for your smart casual look
You don’t need a ton of clothes when starting out your smart casual lookbook. In fact, you can just start with a few key pieces and start mixing and matching! Here are some classic pieces to invest in:
Crisp white button-down shirt [see image]
The white Oxford button-down is a versatile shirt that may be worn anywhere. The button-down, which is worn by some of the most elegant men of all time, got its start on the polo field. Polo players in the 19th century had trouble keeping their shirt collars in place, therefore, buttons were added, allowing the riders’ shirt collars to stay put while punting balls around on horseback.
The button-down has been an essential piece since then, having been popularised by the Ivy League set in the 1950s and 1960s before becoming a Ralph Lauren staple in the 1980s and 1990s. It's a more relaxed version of the typical collared shirt, making it ideal for a smart casual ensemble.
Unstructured blazer or sports jacket [see image]
An unstructured blazer is not the same as a traditional suit jacket. It has little to no padding in the chest and shoulders, unlike the latter, allowing the cloth to drape over your body rather than mould it.
The shoulders of a conventional blazer are usually strongly knotted, creating sharp, forceful lines that are intrinsically professional and linked with business attire. Unstructured jackets, on the other hand, appear more relaxed and natural, and they go well with chinos, T-shirts, polo shirts, and knitwear. Make sure the blazer you're wearing is unstructured if you're aiming for a smart casual vibe.
Drawstring trousers [see image]
Drawstring trousers weren't really a thing until a few years ago. However, with the casualisation ??? of dress code at workplace and work from home (popularise due to the covid ), they've undoubtedly become a go-to pair of trousers in mens’ wardrobe today.
The drawstring pants usually made in linen or seersucker fabric are amongst our best sellers during the WFH days. It feels like track pants loungewear but only more structured. It does not give one a sloppy vibes. In fact, tailored drawstring pants give a more business casual aura over a pair of chinos, and more comfortable on your waistline. You can also drawstrings customised with fitted ribbed hem for a more chill vibes. . (see attached)
Sneakers is a No go
Although minimalist sneakers aren't a new trend, they are still one of the top choices for stylish casual footwear but not for in our opinion. As a tailor we still believe in having a good pair of suede or leather loafer, which boast both style and relaxed chic. They look good almost on every men.
Common Projects ? may have been the first to popularise the look, but there are now a slew of businesses with a variety of price ranges producing their own versions, so no matter what your budget is, you'll be covered.
Jeans are an obvious smart casual staple, but they're also one of the most difficult to do right. Choose a darker colour over lighter hue or unwashed indigo, as they are the most versatile to go with almost any top from chambray to cotton jersey, or linen overshirt. Dark coloured jeans are always more sophisticated in look.
Oxford shirts, Derbies, shoes, and pretty much any other piece of classic menswear will look great with dark denim. Aim for something in the medium – not too slim, not too wide – when it comes to the fit. A normal or straight fit usually looks fantastic. Simply roll the hems so that they end just above your shoes, creating a smooth, uninterrupted trouser line.
Dressing smart casually takes a little bit of experimentation, as there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what is right or wrong. Invest in a few key pieces that are high quality and timeless, and start mixing and matching! When in doubt, we also offer style consultation to ensure that you look your best. Get in touch with us to know more!