What is Smart Casual for Men
Thursday 16 September 2021
The dress code is ’smart casual’. What does that mean exactly? We’re here to break down one of the most searched on Google and make sure you dress the part.
WHAT IS SMART CASUAL FOR MEN?
So what is ‘smart casual’ for men? People have been trying to answer that question ever since the blazer was invented. Basically, there is no official smart casual uniform, and that’s what makes it such a confusing dress code. A lot of things can be smart casual: slim-fit jeans, dress chinos, knit blazers, suiting separates, knits and vests, button-up shirts, even sneakers (if done right). The best unofficial definition is: anything smarter than a tracksuit, but less formal than a suit. As you can guess, that covers quite a bit. So, here are some quick ideas for a smart casual outfit.
For spring and summer smart casual outfits, swap the jeans for dress chinos in Tan, Khaki or Navy. Bring in some boldness with colour and patterned shirts, pocket squares and checked blazers. For shoes, summer smart casual means you can swap the traditional Oxfords and try something more fun, like sockless tassel loafers, suede Derbies or burnished monk straps. For spring, try this combo of white pants, a navy linen shirt and blue checked blazer. Spring and summer mean fewer layers, so show off your style with your accessories—we suggest a pair of quality sunglasses or a vintage dress watch.
SMART CASUAL JACKETS FOR MEN
A blazer is an easy go-to for a smart casual attire, so investing in a well-tailored blazer is key. Especially in summer, when overcoats aren’t practical. The trick with blazers is to think of them, not as some invisible part of your outfit (like a suit jacket), but more like a statement piece. Try vibrant block colours, different fabrics, patterns, checks and textures. For ‘smart casual’ this season, try our lightweight Navy houndstooth jacket with white chinos, white sneakers and a cream zip polo.shop now
Smart Casual Jackets
As a rule, most of the other jackets in your wardrobe aren’t going to cut it for ‘smart casual’. Trucker jackets, puffers, denim jackets and leather jackets—they’re all firmly on the ‘casual’ end of the spectrum. For ‘smart casual’ events, you need something with cleaner and sharper lines which is why we usually recommend sticking to blazers and coats.
There are some exceptions, like this bomber jacket in Natural or this Harrington jacket in Slate Blue with matching pants and a tonal polo shirt, tucked. These jackets wouldn’t usually be ‘smart casual’, but by sticking to the same tonal range, and keeping things neat and sharp, your outfit looks modern and put together. Finish things off with sockless loafers, or clean white sneakers.
ARE JEANS SMART CASUAL?
Jeans are definitely ‘smart casual’, but they need to be the right jeans. Your everyday denim probably isn’t going to work here. There should be no tears, rips or stains. The hems and cuffs should be sharp and clean. And the cut should be slim and taper at the hem—not too skinny, but not straight and baggy either. You want something that will elongate the leg and create a nice silhouette. We recommend dark indigo washes and black denim (save light, stonewash jeans for the more casual events). As for your hem, ‘smart casual’ jeans should either be a neat stack, a tailored hem, or a firm double cuff.
IS A JUMPER SMART CASUAL?
In the colder months, you might need to layer your ‘smart casual’ men’s outfit with jumpers, and that’s totally fine. Your jumper shouldn’t be your outer garment though (with the possible exception of the sweater vest/shirt combo). Jumpers are a good middle layer, between a shirt and blazer. Opt for good quality crewneck knits in darker colours.
IS A SHIRT SMART CASUAL?
Plain tees or shirts are now acceptable in the smart casual dress code. So long as you pair it with a tailored outfit. Sticking to the same general rule of thumb of keeping things sharp and clean, try to avoid band tees or anything with graphics. For dress shirts, you can never go wrong with an Oxford shirt for a smart casual attire. These are a little more relaxed than business dress shirts because of its thicker fabric.
IS A SUIT SMART CASUAL?
Suits are becoming more of a welcomed look for smart casual events. The main thing to consider is how you style it. If you have a sharp and tailored suit, balance it out with softer details—like a plain tee and white sneakers or swap out your fitted dress shirt with a more relaxed one and lose the tie.
FAQS ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CASUAL DRESS CODES
What is smart casual for men?
The best unofficial definition is anything smarter than sweatpants, but less formal than a suit. When choosing an outfit with a smart casual dress code, think about looking put together but with a bit more comfort. Think, a tailored suit balanced with a plain white tee and sneakers.
Are smart casual and business casual the same thing?
Basically, yes. Business casual just means smart casual for the office. Suiting separates are fine, or you can dial things up with a statement blazer. The trick is to stay away from anything too cold and clinical: swap your standard silk tie for something with more texture (or lose the tie all together), swap your two-piece suit for a jacket and chinos, and ditch the boring black shoes for something more interesting, like brogues or suede Derbies.
What does a 'casual' dress code mean?
Casual basically means off-duty so if the invite says ‘casual’, you can more or less wear whatever you want. But we’d probably still stay away from board shorts and thongs (unless it’s a casual beach party). Jeans, sneakers, printed tees or hoodies and casual jackets are all fine here.
Bradley Mclennan has been with POLITIX for 5 years as a designer, and has over 11 years' experience across womenswear, everyday brands and streetwear. He has always been fascinated with how a creative outlook affects people's lives. A great song. An inspired building. Brad love's to push the boundaries. He's the guy injecting colour and pushing the team to be bold. Bringing the whole thing together with an insane attention to detail.