Mens Fashion 101: “Smart Casual” Explained

By Janet Osman

Smart casual is a term that often confuses people. Many people have trouble knowing exactly what to wear when invited to an event where the dress code is smart casual.

Smart casual or business casual is somewhere in between formal dressing and street dressing. A smart casual look is a look that is professional but not as ‘stiff’ as the typical look on a regular day at the office.

No man need be clueless or confused about dressing smart casual. With a few tips, you will be armed and ready for the next smart casual event or dress down/casual Friday at the office.

Here are a 8 simple ways you can pull off a smart casual look:

smart casual for men1) Replace Your Suit Blazer With A Sweater

You can wear the regular suit. Just get rid of the jacket and replace it with a sweater. This gives your outfit a softer, more casual look.

2) Get Rid Of Your Tie

Not wearing a tie instantly makes your outfit less stiff and formal looking. You look more casual than usual.

3) Leather Shoes Not Required

You may want to go casual with the shoes. Get rid of the usual office leather shoes and wear something less formal – as long as they are not sneakers or other sports shoes. Tennis shoes and other sports shoes are not acceptable but dress shoes – especially if they are brown or black – are okay. Slip-ons are also a no-no but sometimes even loafers can do

4) Wear Polo shirts

Polo shirts are an excellent replacement for the usual business shirts. They are warm and comfortable and an excellent choice for casual Friday. An ironed shirt with a collar is also fine.

5) Softer Colors

Softer colors have a more casual look and feel to them. When going for a smart casual look you can feel free to go for softer colors. Think beige or light blue instead of black or gray. You may want to make a small change in your suit by wearing a different color of jacket – perhaps a softer color of jacket with your suit and getting rid of the tie.

business casual6) Smart Casual Pants

You may want to try khakis or Chinos instead of the regular pants suits. They are comfortable and should preferably come in conservative colors.

7) To Jeans Or Not To Jeans?

Jeans may or may not be okay depending on exactly where you work. Each company/industry has its own policy on jeans. Sometimes jeans are allowed sometimes they are no allowed at all; and sometimes only dark colored jeans are allowed.

8 ) Ask and Observe

Watch what others are doing and ask what smart casual is in that context. The truth is that different social environments have different norms when it comes to dressing. You may want to remain conservative as you observe exactly how people – especially your boss – dress before making up your mind. For example in some places black jeans are permissible as smart casual but not in others. Make observations first.