What is smart casual

You come across dress codes often in your life, whether you are aware of it or not. Looking your best at every occasion you attend, is a skill to be mastered. Sometimes dress codes will be clarifying and enlighten you what to expect, more often you have to figure it out all by yourself.

What is smart casual?

The smart-casual dress code is by far the most ambiguous dress code, often the misunderstood in-between the extremes of jeans with a tee and a full suited outfit. Either you show up over dressed or under dressed to the party. Smart-casual is carefully thought as smart enough to be appropriate at a somewhat formal occasion, yet with enough style to make you stand out at a bar.

To perfect this outfit you have to upgrade your wardrobe with a few basic items that will make your outfit instantly smart, but keep a flair of casual at the same time.


Wearing a separate tailored jacket puts the smart in your outfit. There is a variety in levels of formality, depending on several factors.

The colors and patterns are important. Darker tones are more formal, while lighter shades give a more casual appearance. Apart from the pinstripe, when a blazer has pattern it tends to be relaxed. Contrast buttons are informal as well.

Then there is the softness of the blazer. When a blazer has little to no padded shoulders and structure, it will help you build an easy-going appearance. The more structure it has, the more formal you look.

Most blazers will be made of shiny material, but the one that has the matte look, will fit in perfectly with your laid-back outfit.

Oxford Button-Down

Summer favorites. To buy, see link in bio. #SUITSUPPLY #jacket #shirt #trousers

Een foto die door suitsupply is geplaatst op

With a T-shirt or a polo you put emphasis on casual and you might lose the balance of smart-casual. A button-down shirt is a smart way to go, no pun intended.

The texture of your shirt is important. Fine fabric, like for example poplin, will tip the scales to the formal side and is perfect with a business suit, but for a smart-casual look, you need softer and more textured construction, like the thicker Oxford cloth.


Chinos is your fail-safe way to go for your smart-casual outfit. Chinos are flat-fronted, cotton twill trousers. Twill can be varied in structure, scaling it between wrinkly (casual) or rigid (smart). Chinos are softer than tailored trousers, thus more informal, but their military origins give it a smart appearance.

Jeans on the other hand are too textured and with the wrong fit you will be looking too casual, just like with a T-shirt. If you want to go down this road, make sure that they are slim-fitting and in a darker wash.


Slip on the brown tassel loafers. #SUITSUPPLY

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Just like a T-shirt or jeans, trainers can be an item in your outfit, but you will be scaling the balance to the casual. A better option for your look are loafers.

The texture is important. The less smooth and shiny a shoe is, the more casual it is. Suede loafers will be more laid-back than leather loafers. Leather loafers are more sturdy and will be more durable than suede loafers. Suede should be your go-to option in spring and summer months, when there is no moisture.

The more detail it has, the more informal it becomes. Tassel loafers will be more relaxed than horsebit loafers. Then there is the color. Black is formal, whereas brown and tan shoes are more casual.

Depending on how smart the occasion is, you can add a tie. Take the texture in account. Knitted ties are more casual than shiny, silk designs, but it looks smarter than having no tie at all.