Smart-Casual: The Dilemma!

style, guys, casual, trousers, shirt, shoews, accessories

Have you ever had an invitation to a party or a dinner where the dress code was stated as “smart casual”? How do you interpret this?  Do you go smart or do you go casual? Where does the balance lie? Just to give a basic definition of smart casual, it is neat attire yet informal at the same time. So, how do you create a look that looks relax yet polished at the same time? Not too hard to master right? But then you turn up at the party, and somebody turns up in a bow tie with a check shirt and Cuban heels. Sounds confusing right? Well, not to worry let’s lay out the basics in getting the balance right so you can go to the party looking smart and (of course) casual!

So, let’s break it down into the fundamental pieces to smarten you up and to make you casually casual!

The Jacket
When it comes to the jacket, a safe bet is a blazer. But the problem with smart casual is that it’s still a definition for work attire on a casual Friday!  So try and wear a jacket that you wouldn’t wear to work! Wearing textured wool in colours such as light blue should communicate smart and casual. Also when it comes to jackets, they will pair with denim jeans or trousers very easily.

Treading the line between formal and fashionable is very difficult,  so wearing a suit jacket is a no-no. To get some inspiration, visit for ideas on formal and fashionable clothing styles.

The Trousers
Wearing smart casual trousers is where you need to tow the line. What you wear on your legs will change according to what’s on your top.  Remember, when it comes to jeans they are fine to wear as long as they are dark, well-fitting, free of rips and, of course, clean!

And of course when it comes to trousers, please don’t wear shorts, cut-offs or anything that reveals a bit of your leg! Even if it is hotter than the sun out there, keep your sense of decorum, please!

There’s always the case for chinos. To Chino or not to Chino, that is the question. Chinos tread the fine line between smart and casual but a lot of people don’t appear to carry them off. My advice would be to ask a friend, preferably female, for some honest advice.

The Shirt
The shirt is a perfect way to complement your wardrobe for a smart casual event.  It depends on if you decide to wear a tie or not. In a formally relaxed atmosphere try something like an Oxford shirt.  They typically have a button down collar and they look smart enough without needing a tie. At the same time, an Oxford shirt has a sportier feel when worn with a tie.

The Shoes
When it comes to the smart casual outfit, the shoes will define how smart or how casual you are.  Trying a pair of Chelsea boots with a rounded toe communicates a good balance.  When it comes to the color of the shoes, work to match the color with your trousers or jeans.  For example, classic tan works well with navy or gray trousers and indigo jeans.

The Accessories
When it comes to the right accessories for a smart casual event, you can always go for a watch. But make sure that it’s not a digital one, nor does it need to be completely expensive.  You can get a modest style for a good price. If you are carrying a bag make sure it is a leather document holder instead of a rucksack or camping style attire!

Finally, the belt! Make sure that it matches your shoe color, as this shows you pay attention to the smaller details. This will serve you well in a smart casual event, like a date where you are trying to impress.

The Final Touches
Not to be overlooked, the little touches apply to any outfit, not just a smart casual one.  Make sure you polish, clean, or brush your shoes and iron your shirt. And it probably goes without saying,  but make sure your hair is presentable. These little touches will leave a lasting impression overall!

A few final pointers about going smart casual,  make sure you create a balance such as jeans with a blazer, bear in mind that it’s better to be overdressed than it is to be underdressed. If you are ever in doubt, ask a girl. She knows about these things! And finally, be yourself.  Where they’re going to a party or on a date smart will communicate a lot about you. Good luck!

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