Topics Transitions Effects Articles Author Contacts About

What is smart casual dress code?

What is smart casual dress code?

Updated:  Jul 19, 2024
Created:  Dec 30, 2023
Time to read:  4 min

Two decades ago, dress standards had clear definitions, easily grasped by everyone. However, recent times witnessed a shift towards a more relaxed approach to fashion, resulting in the emergence of new dress codes.

Presently, 'casual' spans a spectrum from workout attire to the fashionable comfort of athleisure, extending to office-appropriate ensembles like dress shirts paired with chinos. The concept has expanded, necessitating a deeper understanding beyond a mere casual dress code. Deciphering an invitation bearing the term 'smart casual dress code' can pose quite a challenge.

Navigating this ambiguity requires a clear definition of the smart casual dress code, outlining its do's and don'ts to avert arriving in a mismatched hoodie and dress shirt combo.

What is Smart Casual?

What is smart casual dress code? — Photo №1

The term 'smart casual' emerged historically due to an abundance of overly casual attire, emphasizing the need to avoid joggers and trainers. However, the urban dictionary's definition humorously portrays it as a nonsensical, perplexing code applied to various occasions, leading to amusing yet bewildering outcomes.

While entertaining, this definition lacks practicality. Our take on smart casual clarifies its essence. Taking cues from the urban dictionary's advice of not taking it literally, it discourages combining tennis shoes with a dress shirt or pairing sweatpants with a blazer. In essence, smart casual isn't about haphazardly blending different formality levels of clothing but rather choosing attire that strikes a balance between extreme casualness and formality, bridging the gap between very relaxed and formal/business attire.

What’s The Difference Between Smart Casual And Casual?

What is smart casual dress code? — Photo №2

Opting for a hoodie veers too far into casual territory, while pleated wool dress pants err on the side of excessive formality. However, selecting chinos and a polo shirt strikes the ideal balance for smart casual attire.

The beauty of smart casual lies in its flexibility – it permits a wide array of colors and encourages unconventional combinations that one might not typically consider. This freedom allows for diverse and creative clothing pairings that might not have been explored otherwise.

What Should I Avoid When Dressing Smart Casual?

The goal is to steer clear of fashion extremes, which translates to:

  • Avoiding jeans
  • Steering clear of trainers
  • Ditching hoodies
  • Skipping sweatpants

Smart casual ditches extremes: no jeans, trainers, hoodies, or sweatpants. Likewise, avoid neckwear, suits, pleated pants, and black dress shoes. This dress code isn't for the office; it's for social scenes like cruises, restaurants, or resorts. The goal? Look sharp without being overly formal. As most of the listed items are unisex these apply to women's smart casual dress code as well.

What works for smart casual?

What is smart casual dress code? — Photo №3

If your office attire is formal with suits and ties, and you're off to a smart casual event afterward, we recommend bringing a change of clothes. If your office allows some leeway – blazers, and chinos, perhaps – adjust accordingly to create a suitable look.

For the party, lose the tie, add a bold pocket square or boutineer, and play with vibrant socks and shoes. Experiment with rich colors like dark red, deep green, or navy for a more engaging look. If you are unsure whether you should dress up a little more or dress down aim to dress slightly up rather than down to avoid any fashion mishaps, but always stay below full business wear.

Smart casual men dress code for the top

What is smart casual dress code? — Photo №4

On the formal side choose an odd jacket or blazer with bold patterns and different colors that don't match your pants. Avoid full suits and mismatched suit jackets with odd bottoms. Also, that means don’t wear orphaned suit jackets from your pinstripe suit with a Nantucket red pair of pants because it’s simply odd and doesn’t work together.

If you want to be more casual with your Jacket choice, you can absolutely do that. You could go with a Harrington jacket in cotton, maybe a linen, a bomber, or a leather jacket if that suits the overall outfit that makes for a smart casual guy's dress code.

Shirt-wise, skip t-shirts and formal white or solid light blue dress shirts. Instead, go for checked shirts with collars. In warmer weather, linen shirts are great, while polos suit better than short-sleeved dress shirts. In cold weather, add a cardigan over a checked shirt for extra warmth. For cold weather, you can add a cardigan on top of the checked shirt.

What to wear for smart casual bottoms?

What is smart casual dress code? — Photo №5

Regarding pants or slacks, avoid jeans and steer clear of pleated worsted wool pants – both are at opposite ends of the spectrum, one too casual, the other too formal for smart casual attire. Instead, opt for chinos. Consider corduroys for winter and seersucker or linen for summer. Aim for textures that add interest, perhaps something with a subtle pattern like a small houndstooth design.

Accessories for smart casual

What is smart casual dress code? — Photo №6

When it comes to accessories in smart casual wear, embrace bold colors and enjoy experimenting. Skip regular ties and bowties; an ascot can be a stylish alternative for neckwear.

If you choose a blazer or odd jacket, opt for a vibrant pocket square or a contrasting boutineer to add a pop of color and fun. Avoid the typical white linen pocket square in a TV fold – it's more suited for formal settings.

For gloves, steer clear of formal black; instead, go for a variety of colors, and two-toned gloves can also complement this style well.

Shoes for smart casual

What is smart casual dress code? — Photo №7

For footwear, opt for leather shoes with a leather or rubber sole—avoid black, which leans too formal. Instead, explore brown tones, tans, green, off-white, or dark burgundy red. Choose styles with more casual details.

Spectators are a great choice; consider woven leather, linen inserts, or suede for a relaxed vibe. Derbies are more fitting than Oxfords, though certain Oxfords with lighter shades and full brogue patterns can work for smart casual. Tassel loafers in two tones or classic penny loafers also fit the bill. For a very casual look, consider boat shoes—leather, laid-back, and suitable for going barefoot.



IT entrepreneur and co-founder of VJump. His passion is travel photography, within which, he has already visited 75 countries. Photos taken during his travels are actively posted on his social networks. For example, his Instagram account has more than 1 million followers.
In addition, his documentary short film Terra del Fuego was awarded more than 30 international awards and certificates at film festivals worldwide.

Download VJump
Create impressive video effects/transitions for TikTok without video editing skills!
Download RetouchMe
Edit your photos in just a few clicks and get impressively realistic retouching!
For TikTok influencers
Impressive effects for TikTok
Create videos with special effects like social media influencers!
42 Reviews
Learn more
Our other products:
For mobile retouching
Before/after example
Transform Your Silhouette with RetouchMe
15570 Reviews
For commercial photographers
Retouching for Professional Photographers
Enhance your commercial photos with professional retouching!
Learn more
Related Posts
Create video with special effects