How to Wear Smart Casual at Work
As the name implies, smart casual is a style that balances comfort with sophistication. It excludes anything that requires a suit jacket or would be worn at the gym (tank tops, for example). Rough and open fabrics lean casual; flat and smooth fabrics look smarter.
Swapping trainers for leather loafers cranks up an outfit from casual to smart. The same goes for swapping your bomber jacket for a blazer or your jeans for slim wool trousers.
Women’s smart casual outfits include pants, skirts and dresses, as well as tailored jeans or khakis. Pants should fit properly and be free of holes or signs of wear. Skirts that are fitted in the hips, thighs or waist work best in this style, according to stylists. These can be pencil skirts, a-line skirts or pleated skirts. They also should be free of holes or rips. It’s important that the fabric is made of a quality material that is appropriate for work, such as wool, linen or cotton.
A-line or pleated skirts are ideal for smart casual attire, as they can be dressed up with dress shirts or blouses. A cotton t-shirt or button-down shirt also looks smart when worn with these types of skirts. In some cases, a knit or woven sweater might be included in this category, as long as it’s not too casual. Henleys, polo shirts and T-shirts also work well.
Jeans are acceptable as part of a smart casual wardrobe, but you need to have separate pairs that are kept in good condition. You don’t want to mix your business casual jeans with the pair you wear on weekends. You also don’t want to wear tights under your jeans, which is too informal for this type of attire.
You might be able to include shorts as part of your smart casual wardrobe, especially in warm weather. The key to doing so is having the right shoes and wearing them with dressier clothing. You also want to avoid shorts that are too short, as they might show too much leg.
A good pair of tailored cropped pants can be paired with a variety of blouses, t-shirts and other tops for a smart casual outfit that works in most workplaces. These pants smart casual can even be worn with a suit jacket on occasion, depending on the environment.
While a few fashion experts mention that trends might change, they all stress that well-fitted pieces with simple patterns and colors will always reflect the smart casual look. The experts also stress that you should avoid going too casual or oscillating between too casual and business formal. For men, these faux pas usually involve oversized clothes or those that are too baggy or poorly fitting.
There’s an art to putting together the right smart casual tops. You want to look for pieces that can dress up or down based on pants and shoes you choose. The right T-shirt will add a touch of elegance to smart casual outfits, while a nice blouse can elevate a pair of jeans. If you like to layer, a sweater or henley will also work well with smart casual clothing.
When it comes to tops, polos and blouses will be your best bet. They have a formal feel to them, but they’re not too stuffy or overbearing. Avoid casual t-shirts with logos or stripes, as these are more casual than they need to be for a smart casual wardrobe. Instead, invest in some nice t-shirts, casual button-downs and blouses that will make for versatile additions to your collection.
Sweaters are another item that will work well in a smart casual outfit, but you’ll want to keep them separate from your weekend sweatshirts. The key is to find fitted sweaters made of fine materials that will dress up a pair of jeans or pants with ease. These will work well for both men and women, but you’ll want to stay away from oversized, baggy sweaters unless they are specifically intended for weekend wear.
You’ll also want to stick with neutral colors for smart casual tops, but don’t be afraid to incorporate the occasional pop of smart casual color. For example, a bright pink t-shirt will look good when paired with a pair of blue denim jeans or khakis. Just be sure to choose the right pair of jeans for the occasion, whether it’s a pair of skinny pants for spring or summer or a pair of dark wash jeans that will work for winter.
While smart casual is not normally a dress code that needs to be followed in the workplace, it can be a great choice for job interviews. After all, you’ll still be dressing to impress, but the more laid back look of a smart casual outfit can give off the same impression as a brand-new suit. So, don’t be afraid to try a few smart casual outfits before your next interview to see which looks you like the most.
The right jacket will make or break a smart casual outfit. You don’t need a full suit jacket, but it needs to have a smart cut and fit. A standard blazer will do the trick, but you can also try out longer lengths and textured fabrics to stand out from the crowd. Alternatively, you could go for something more casual like a sports coat, tweed jacket or mac, depending on the occasion. You can even try out a leather jacket for the right look, but just be careful not to get too casual, or you’ll risk falling into workwear territory.
A stylish coat will elevate a simple t-shirt, trousers and sneakers combination into the smart casual zone. A light bomber jacket or trench coat are good options, especially if you’re looking to wear bold colours, such as navy blue, burgundy and tan. The key is to avoid anything too bright or neon, which will quickly detract from your polished smart casual look.
If you’re dressing up for colder weather, sweaters can be a great addition to your smart casual wardrobe. Look for fitted styles with a ribbed hem, a V-neck and some stylish detailing like tonal cross stitching or embroidered feathers. A cardigan or overhead sweater will be perfect for keeping you warm, but make sure that it fits you well and is made from a high-quality fabric.
For a classic, timeless smart-casual jacket that will never go out of style, check out the ‘Travel Revers Blazer’ from slow fashion label WEBER+WEBER Sartoria. It resembles traditional Alpine jackets, but with a standing collar, and it’s been made from loden wool, which is boiled to make it water, dirt and odour-resistant.
A tailored polo shirt is another wardrobe essential for smart casual, as it will keep you looking polished while remaining comfortable. Opt for a patterned option, such as a floral or checked design, to add a touch of personality to your smart casual attire. Pair it with some slim-fit jeans, loafers or boots and you’ll be ready for any smart-casual occasion. Don’t forget to finish off your look with a handbag that matches your sophisticated yet laidback ensemble. Consider a leather or suede bag, or even a canvas tote.
A good smart casual wardrobe is a mix of clothing items that can work for different occasions. A good place to start is with a few pairs of jeans that are nice and clean. Men should also invest in some dress pants that can be worn with a shirt or blazer and still be appropriate for most smart casual workplaces. For women, dresses can also be part of a smart casual look. However, it is important to avoid wearing short skirts or anything that shows your underwear.
The shoes you wear with a smart casual outfit can really help to elevate your look. It is important to avoid sneakers that may be too scuffed or worn out, and it is best not to wear flip-flops or other shoes that reveal your toes. Flats are usually acceptable, as long as they are dressy and don’t show too much skin. Shoes that can be worn both to work and for other activities are also a good choice.
In terms of color, navy blue and black are the classic shades that work well for smart casual outfits. A good way to make a smart casual outfit stand out is to add a pop of color or texture to the outfit with accessories like a tie, scarf, belt or pair of sunglasses. It is also a good idea to have a couple of pairs of shoes that can be worn with both smart casual and business casual outfits, such as loafers or chukka boots.
Another important aspect of a smart casual outfit is the fit. It is important to have well-fitting clothes that are not too tight or loose. It is also a good idea to stay away from any garments that are too ripped or torn, as these can give off a more casual impression.
While some people may think that smart casual is a vague and confusing dress code, the fact is that it can be very easy to get it right. Many people who are involved in the fashion industry, including those who work at retail and boutiques, have a solid grasp of what it means to look smart casual. Additionally, there is plenty of advice available online that can help you understand how to put together an outfit that is both smart and casual.