Navigating The Minefield Of Smart Casual Dress Codes


Dressing for formal occasions is easy. A good suit will get you through all sorts of different functions that call for a more formal outfit. Casual is even easier, just wear whatever you like. It gets tricky when you’re going to an event and the dress code says 'smart casual' - what does that actually mean? There isn’t one solid answer to that question and everybody seems to have their own specific ideas about what constitutes smart casual. That makes it difficult because you don’t want to end up overdressing and looking too formal, but you also don’t want to turn up in a pair of jeans if nobody else is wearing them. Here are a couple of suggestions to help you navigate the minefield of a smart casual dress code.

Steer Towards Smart

If you’re unsure on how to balance the smart and the casual aspects of your outfit, it’s always better to steer in the direction of smart rather than casual. If you turn up in a suit and everybody is wearing jeans and a blazer then you might look a bit overdressed but it isn’t the end of the world. You’ll feel a lot more stupid if you turn up in jeans and a polo shirt and everybody else is sporting a blazer and tie combo. Never wear too much casual clothing otherwise you’ll end up looking far too underdressed.


One of the easiest things to work out when you’re trying to put together your outfit is the shoes. Trainers are never going to cut it, even if they’re expensive designer ones. A good pair of leather shoes in black or brown should always be a part of any smart casual outfit, regardless of what you are doing with the rest of your outfit.


If you find that your outfit is veering too far one way or the other, you can balance things out a little by using accessories. You can get away with jeans, t-shirt, and blazer if you tie it together with a classy belt from somewhere like brighton belt. You could also try wearing a good quality watch to top off the outfit. These focal points will draw attention towards the formal aspects of your outfit and balance out the casual, everyday pieces of clothing.

Balance Top And Bottom

It’s not enough to just wear half smart and half casual pieces of clothing. There’s much more to it than that. You have to strike a good balance between the top and bottom halves. For example, if you’re going for smart shoes and trousers, a blazer on top might be a bit too much. It would take things down a notch if you went for a nice quality polo instead. If you’ve decided on a blazer and shirt combo then go for jeans instead of formal trousers.


Jeans are fine for a smart casual outfit but you need to be careful when you’re picking a style. The cut needs to be fairly slim like a traditional pair of trousers but don’t go with anything too skinny otherwise it’ll look silly. In terms of colors, always go for something dark. Blue is fine but only a navy, don’t wear anything stonewashed or light. The best color to go for is black because it looks the smartest and it goes well with most things.