When it comes to fashion, in the past I’ve been rather more of a “leave the house symmetrical” as opposed to a smart casual dresser. As a freelancer, however, running a business and attending numerous meetings, not to mention community events, I have, over time, had to hone my smart casual wardrobe somewhat.
What is Smart Casual?
According to the font of all knowledge (Google), smart casual is:
(of clothes) neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code.
“think of a smart casual outfit as one that you’d wear for a movie or dinner date”.
That pretty much sums it up. This is a style that is neither too formal, i.e. full business suit or cocktail dress and yet not too casual i.e sloppy jeans and a t-shirt. Chums have a fabulous clothing collection with items at great prices which shows that this style of clothing is as affordable as it is to put together.
When is Smart Casual Appropriate?
Personally, smart casual is something I would wear to a meeting, a local business event, a networking group or my coworking group (I run a local coworking group that meets twice a month). Outside of work, a meal out, some parties and meeting new people are all on my SC clothing radar.
If you are attending an event and are not sure what the dress code is, just ask. Otherwise, you will be left wondering right up until you arrive if you are properly dressed.
Top Tips for Smart Casual Wear
Your exact smart/casual look will depend on you, your likes and dislikes and where you are going. As a general rule of thumb though these tips should be considered.
In my opinion, if you are required to wear a hat, you are at a more formal event.
Blazers are Your Friend
A good quality blazer is a must for men and women looking to pull off a SC look. It dresses up most casual outfits, leaving you free to accessorise to complete the look. If I was investing in one piece, a blazer would be it.
Jeans are Ok
By jeans I mean something fitted, not something baggy and with holes. There are many great examples of smart jeans and if coupled with appropriate footwear (not trainers), they can make a great addition to your SC capsule wardrobe.
Don’t Go Over the Top
Accessories are great; a matching bag, a scarf and so on. Sequins, rhinestone, loud patterns and similar are really not what we’re looking for here.
While smart casual doesn’t usually include neon pink and so on, it is ok to inject some colour into your SC outfits. My favourites are a mustard colour, navy blue, greys and a maroon colour.
Smart casual usually means no midriff out on display, no builder’s bottom and easy on the cleavage. Cold shoulder tops if smart enough are fine and gentleman, please don’t think you have to button a shirt all the way to the top but a little common sense goes a long way here.
Ties are not required for smart casual, for men or for women. That will be a relief to many.
Look up the smart casual hashtag #SmartCasualCovered online to find some great examples of what SC can look like. This is a great way to source outfit inspiration. It is fine to put your own individual stamp on your SC wardrobe, however, starting with a more sedate base is often the way to go.
Smart casual is my favourite way to dress. I can be comfortable yet confident in what I’m wearing. My SC wardrobe is not all black and grey, far from it, however, it is nice to have a uniform of sorts for numerous events that I can add a little personality to in the form of accessories. Again, if you’re not sure about what the dress code is for a specific event, ask. Smart casual does seem to apply to a number of functions though, which means making sure you have good quality key pieces ready to go is a must.