Understanding smart casual —how to master the look

smart casual

April 25, 2018 • Lifestyle

It’s likely that you’ve attended an event where you’ve been asked to arrive in smart casual But the line can sometimes become blurred between too formal and too casual, so what should you be wearing? CT shirts, retailers of men’s shirts, tell us more.

When is smart casual appropriate?

If the invite doesn’t hint at what to wear, it can be hard to decide what to pull out of your wardrobe. Some offices and workplaces have ‘dress down Fridays’ or a casual dress code every day. However, it’s still nice to make an effort and look reasonably smart — even if this doesn’t involve a three-piece suit and tie.

Smart casual can be appropriate for a look that’s not overly dressy and not too formal. For example, at a dinner party where a formal tuxedo is not expected but jeans and a T-shirt would be frowned upon. Or, for a first interview — it may specify casual in the email, but first impressions count and your outfit should still be carefully considered.

Choosing to dress smart casual can be a safe option for some occasions too. It avoids the error of looking like you don’t take pride in your appearance and prevents you feeling out of place by dressing too formally.

What to buy?

Thankfully, dressing smart casual doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune on a new outfit. Simply invest in a few staple items to achieve the look.

One good investment to make is a fashionable blazer. It depends on your fashion preferences as to what sort of blazer you opt for — just choose one that you feel confident in and it will show. An unstructured blazer is perfect for men who prefer a relaxed look and who want to avoid a rigid and overly tailored shape. Some believe that these are more comfortable too, as they are without inner folds and allow you to move more freely. A structured blazer, on the other hand, emphasises the shape of the body. It gives more of a snug fit to the wearer and is generally more expensive, as it takes great skill to create an impressive jacket of this style. Navy is a good choice for a blazer as it is very versatile and not as formal as the traditional black jacket.

Another thing to keep in mind is to choose some comfortable and stylish shoes. Depending on your preferences, choose a pair of brogues or loafers to complete a smart casual look. Brogues are uber stylish and recognisable by their detailed leather uppers and thin laces. Loafers, on the other hand, are lower shoes so the ankle is exposed, they do not have laces and often have a low heel. They can be seen as less formal than the brogue because more of the foot is on show. In terms of colour, brown is a good colour to go for as it can be paired with denim or smart trousers, whereas black may be too dark to complement some colours.

Buying a pair of trousers that complement the rest of your outfit is a good idea too. A light pair of chinos are a good option for warmer weather, as they can brighten up your outfit whilst keeping you looking smart. If you feel more comfortable in jeans, try to choose a darker denim as this gives off a more formal vibe — just avoid distressed or ripped denim at all costs.

The full look

So, what should you wear on top to complete the look?

In the colder months, a jumper is smart and practical. It is perfect for layering and looking smart. Pair a black wool roll-neck with a grey slim fit jacket and coloured pocket square to become the master of business casual. Match your socks with your pocket square for co-ordination and wear your favourite pair of swanky trousers.

Or, how about an open collar shirt? Paired with a double-breasted jacket, you can create an ideal look for the fashion-conscious gentleman. Choose complementing colours for the shirt and blazer, such as different hues of blue or grey, to really make your outfit come together. Slip into tailored trousers, chinos or jeans and pair with brogues to complete the look.


Now you know how to style next time you receive that invite! Of course, keeping your outfit neat and tidy is important too, so don’t let smaller details drop you into the ‘casual’ bracket. Have a lint roller on hand before leaving the house and make sure you always look your best.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.