The beginners guide to smart casual
Nail the dress code this season with these essential pieces.
Let’s face it – many a man has been stumped by this common yet confusing dress code that combines two diametrically-opposed terms. And seeing the season of get-togethers is now upon us, many more of us will, no doubt, be found staring blankly at our wardrobes asking questions like “are jeans OK?” or “what shoes should I wear?”.
So what does smart casual actualy mean?
Etiquette experts Debrett’s identifies two types of smart casual (just to confuse things further, right?).
“Formal smart casual requires a jacket or blazer, flannels, needlecord trousers or chinos, a shirt with a collar, and smart shoes – not trainers or sandals,” the Debrett’s website reads.
“Informal smart casual usually means that jeans can be worn provided they are clean and dark-coloured.”
If you’re unsure whether your event requires formal or informal, check the invite – a printed invitation suggests a smarter event than a text or email.
To help you get it right, we’ve honed in on four key smart-casual essentials that you can be sure will see you through any event this party season.
Blazers are a great pick for smart casual as they can be paired with different pieces and work well for a layered look. The one thing you need to think about is the material for the blazer you intend to wear with this attire. For smart casual, ensure that your blazer isn’t too formal and is lightweight with relaxed elements. Style expert Peter Gemmell says smart-casual blazers are a little shorter in length than an ordinary blazer, thus removing the formal edge. “A cotton-twill, linen blend works well,” he says. “It will give the jacket a more delicate weight ideal for hotter weather.”
Button down shirt
A button down shirt is an obvious and safe choice for smart casual occasions and can work in both formal and informal settings. Go for classic colours and traditional patterns. Style website The TrendSpotter says smart casual looks should still observe tradition, so opt for timeless prints and tones for a grown up take on casual wear. Colours like whites, powder blues and navies work tremendously, and patterns like gingham and tartan are classic and read stylish. A looser button down such as denim or chambray shirts can switch up your look. Tuck them in and finish with a textured woven belt for a more relaxed approach.
Chinos are the ultimate staple – whether your event is more casual or more dressy, this pant works well for ambiguous dress codes. Chinos are great investments in colours like khaki, navy and beige as these tones work with a wider range of complementary colours. Make sure your pants are well-fitting and the right length. Rolling your chinos up at the bottom will make them look more casual if the event is less formal.
Yes it’s summer and yes it’s Australia but please leave the thongs behind when it comes to smart casual. “As tempting as it is in the better weather, they are for the pool and beach and that’s it!,” says Gemmell. Depending on the occasion, When it comes to shoes, select either boots, loafers or oxfords. Bold tones or unique details can be a fun way to make sure your outfit doesn’t look like it strolled straight out of the office. More casual slip-ons or Converse can also work for less formal occasions, but save your trainers for the gym.