A Smart Casual Dress Code For Men
When you hear that the event you’ve got lined up at the weekend has a smart casual dress code, it throws up all sorts of questions: “do I need to wear a shirt?” “Are trainers allowed?” “How do I make sure I don’t look too smart?” the list goes on.
Nailing the smart casual style to a tee is one of life’s holy grails. Getting the balance between smart and sophisticated while being comfortable and relaxed isn’t an easy feat. Luckily, a smart casual dress code is one of the most versatile. If you’re left scratching your head when it comes to smart casual style, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll define what exactly a smart casual dress code is, give you some smart casual styling tips & inspiration for your next smart casual event.
What Is Smart Casual?
Open to multiple interpretations, the smart casual dress code has bewildered men for decades. It's not quite as dressed up as ‘heading to a job interview business formal’, but it's also not ‘sitting on your couch watching Netflix casual.’ So what exactly does smart casual mean? Generally speaking, it means dressing in polished, sophisticated clothing that is still comfortable and appropriate for the occasion. Think smart jeans paired with a button-down shirt or blazer, or chinos paired with a polo shirt and smart trainers. Keeping accessories tasteful and minimal.
In short, smart casual style is all about looking put-together and polished, while still being able to move comfortably and confidently in your clothing. Just make sure to avoid anything overly casual, like ripped jeans or gym wear. With smart casual attire, the key is to always err on the side of dressing slightly more formally rather than less.
The Difference Between Casual, Smart And Smart Casual
When it comes to dress codes, "casual" generally means no need for fancy clothes, comfortable and appropriate for everyday events. Think jeans and a t-shirt with Converse. "Smart" requires a bit more effort and typically includes nicer garments like button down shirts, blazers and even ties.
"Smart casual" is a blend of the two - not quite as dressed up as smart but not as laid back as casual. This could mean nice jeans or khakis with a button down shirt. The key to dressing smart casual is to look put together without being too formal or overdressed. As always, it's important to consider the specific event or occasion when choosing your fit. If you’re headed to a smart casual wedding reception, it might be best to lean towards the smart dress code, if it’s a birthday party - you might get away with the more casual style.
Smart Casual Styling Tips
Smart casual styling is sliding scale. It’s ultra versatile, meaning there’s no right or wrong but there are some general guidelines you can follow.
Keep Things Simple
When it comes to smart casual styling, less is definitely more. There's nothing worse than showing up to a smart casual event dressed to the nines in over-the-top attire. Keep things simple and stick to the classics: trousers, chinos, button down shirts, simple knitwear, blazers etc. As long as you don't go overboard and keep it classic, you'll be sure to nail the smart casual look.
Use Complementary Colours
A smart casual outfit usually involves wearing a mismatched pair of jeans or trousers with a shirt and blazer. With this in mind, one of the easiest ways to achieve a polished look is by sticking to neutral colors. This allows you to mix and match different pieces without having to worry about clashing colors. It also makes it easier to switch out statement pieces, like jackets or shoes, without disrupting the overall aesthetic of your outfit.
Think About The Small Details
When it comes to smart casual styling, the small details can make all the difference. Don't skimp on your accessories - opt for a high-quality leather belt or statement watch to complete your look. Think about adding subtle patterns or textures to your outfit, like a patterned shirt. And of course, always remember the importance of fit - choose items that are the right size and shape for your body type. These small touches will elevate your smart casual outfit and leave a lasting impression.
Think About The Material
The material of your outfit can make all the difference. Opting for lightweight fabrics like linen or cotton can immediately elevate a look and make it more appropriate for a smart casual dress code. On the other hand, heavy materials like denim or wool might be better suited for a more casual setting.
One easy way to instantly look more polished is by swapping out t-shirts for button-up shirts and polos. Whether it's a classic white shirt or a patterned option, this simple switch can transform your outfit from casual to smart casual in an instant. Pair with dark wash jeans or chinos for a more put-together look, or add a blazer for an extra touch
Key Smart Casual Pieces
Taking you from office, to evening drinks, a pair of strong smart casual trousers are the backbone of the smart casual outfit. Key things to remember with smart casual trousers is that fit is everything. Too baggy and they can look like a pair of joggers, too tight and you’ll find yourself uncomfortable. A tapered pair of trousers that sit just above the shoe works perfectly.
The Technical Traveller Trousers ooze style and are made from soft tech fabric for ultimate comfort. Combine them with a statement shirt and smart trainers and you’ve got yourself the perfect smart casual outfit.
We all want to look put together, but let's face it, we also want to be comfortable. That's where polo shirts come in. Is a polo shirt smart casual? Basically, yes. They have the relaxed vibe of a t-shirt, but with a collar and button detail that adds an extra touch of sophistication. Plus, they come in countless colors and patterns, allowing you to easily mix and match to create countless outfits. And let's not forget their versatility - they can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. So next time you're looking for something comfortable yet polished, reach for a trusty polo shirt. You won't regret it.
The Premium Long Sleeve Polo is an essential smart casual piece. Made from Luxury fabric, it combines comfort with functionality. And it’s also versatile, meaning you can pair it up with almost any trouser or shoe.
Minimal footwear is a game changer. From sleek, all-white options like the Premium Leather Cupsole to understated black designs like the Luxe Runner, these smart casual trainers offer a modern and polished alternative to dress shoes. Plus, their minimalist design pairs well with both casual and dressy outfits. Of course, this doesn't mean you have to give up comfort. Many smart casual trainers feature cushioning technology for added comfort throughout the day.
It goes without saying, a shirt epitomises smart casual. Whether it's a crisp button-down or a comfortable flannel, shirts can add that bit of sophistication to any casual look. And pairs well with just about any trouser - jeans, chinos. Plus, thanks to their versatility, shirts can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. So next time you're wondering what to wear for a smart casual dress code, reach for a smart casual shirt like the Textured Resort Shirt and become the master of smart casual style.
Smart casual Jackets are the ultimate go-to. They instantly add more structure and polish to any outfit, while also providing warmth and protection from the elements. Plus, their versatility means you can never have too many in your wardrobe. Throw on a blazer with jeans and a tee for a casual Friday at work, or opt for a bomber for weekend drinks with friends.
Smart Casual Style
Smart casual style is perfect for those who want to look sharp but don’t want to feel too stuffy or formal. Just remember, when in doubt, err on the side of caution and dress a little bit smarter than you might think necessary. And if all else fails, keep it simple with a classic jacket, shirt and trousers combo. With the key pieces above in your wardrobe, you’ll be able to nail smart casual every single time.
At Belier, it’s our aim to bridge the gap between smart and casual clothing. We’ve developed our own category that sits between the two dress codes, “Modern Tailoring.” Whether you’re looking for a versatile jacket for after work drinks, or a statement shirt to up your date game - we’ve developed modern male wardrobe essentials made from luxurious fabrics that have been featured in global publications such as GQ. Discover our full range here.