Smart casual is a common dress code for many professional events and jobs, but you don’t have to be ashamed if you’re wondering, “what is smart casual wear?” Of all of the classifications of dress, it is probably the hardest to describe smart casual, so it’s no surprise many of us are scratching our heads. In fact, there is really no clear definition of the term and some people even confuse it with casual wear.
Smart Casual Wear
This particular style of dress is a complicated mix of both casual, everyday pieces (like denim and cardigans) as well as dressy, formal clothing (such as blazers and pencil skirts.) Pulling off this matchup of two completely different styles of clothing is not for the fashionably challenged, as all aspects of the outfit must be carefully considered and much planning must be done.
The first thing that needs to be determined is the occasion. Is this smart casual outfit for an interview or a business outing or something of the like? If the occasion is work related or for something like a wedding reception, it is usually safe to assume that jeans are a no-go. Definitely go with something a little dressier like a skirt or dress pants paired with a decorated tee and nice cardigan. If the outfit is for something like a dinner party, good-looking denim paired with a somewhat dressy top and blazer would be much more acceptable.
The second point to consider is the weather. If it is winter, definitely try to stick with long pants and long sleeves as opposed to dresses. It’s also safe to assume that summery floral prints and pastel colors should be avoided as well. If it happens to be summer, dresses become an option and the decision becomes a little more complicated. You can’t just go with any dress for smart casual. It can’t be too formal (like a cocktail dress) and it definitely can’t be too informal (like a sun dress.) It’s usually safer to stick with something simple, and add the right touch of smart and casual by incorporating accessories. A classic shaped dress (like an A line or a tunic) in a simple print paired with a dressy jacket or vest and heels is perfect for summertime smart casual.
The next item to consider is the accessories. Shoes are very important to the outfit; the wrong shoes can take you from smart casual to lazy day in the blink of an eye. Whatever shoes you choose need to be relatively nice. Sticking with classy heels or flats will almost always be a good choice. Be sure not to over-accessorize with too much jewelry or a busy bag. Choose just the right amount to compliment your outfit, but not distract from it. While this may be a challenge in itself, just remember, less is more.
Overall, smart casual is not cut and dry. There are so many different factors involved that achieving the perfect balance between casual and formal can be nearly impossible. In order to succeed, you must fall perfectly between a day out with the girls and a day on the job. While this may seem tough to do, following these simple guidelines will lessen the headache and increase your chances of nailing the concept of smart casual wear.