The Ultimate Smart Casual Dress Guide for Men

The Ultimate Smart Casual Dress Guide for Men

Oct 19 , 2021


Tags - Smart Casual for Men

Trying to understand what smart casual even means can be a bit of a nightmare.

According to the Oxford dictionary, it means: “neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code”. But sometimes, the dress code is smart casual so it’s understandable if you’re still left confused.

Like most people, you may have done a quick online search for smart casual styles and see some men in shorts - which doesn’t necessarily strike us as smart - to shirt and ties - which doesn’t come across as casual.

Before we go into our top style tips, let’s look a little closely at what smart casual means.

What is Smart Casual?

Smart casual doesn’t really have a definition, so it can mean anything.

In fact, Mr Porter’s Style Advice page states that smart casual is “pretty much anything smarter than a tracksuit, but less formal than a suit”.

So whilst there is not one style, outfit or answer, that ironically complicates matters even more.

Plus smart casual can be both formal and informal. Formal smart casual would perhaps be a jacket or blazer, trousers or chinos but not jeans, a shirt but not a t-shirt, and smart shoes but not trainers. Simple right?

Informal smart casual then, still remains a vague area. But think of it this way, you still need to look smart so you’ll definitely need to change from what you were wearing at home.

In other words, you want to take your outfit up a notch: casual could mean jeans, t-shirt and trainers, whereas smart casual would mean choosing a collared polo and jeans in a darker wash instead.

Simply, smart casual leads to a more polished look so you don’t appear as slouchy or lazy, and that you’ve actually put some thought into your outfit.

Smart Casual Style Tips for Men

If you’re still a little confused, don’t worry. Here are our top 3 smart casual style tips, where you can switch up pieces from your daily wardrobe so you can remain true to your unique personal style.

1. Swap One or Two Pieces

As we know, smart casual is difficult to define.

An effective way to nail this dress code is to start off with wearing a completely casual outfit.

Then, swap one or even two pieces for something smarter.

For example, let’s say you wear a t-shirt, jeans and trainers - all very casual.

Now, try throwing on a blazer and swapping your trainers to derbies, or if you don’t want to wear a jacket, try changing your t-shirt to a button up shirt instead.

Simply swapping one or two pieces can help transform your vibe, look dapper and achieve the smart casual dress code with ease.

2. Darker Shades

Sometimes, you won't even need to switch pieces up to adjust how smart or casual an outfit is.

The reason being, is that darker colours will skew more formal by default. So smartening up can be as simple as wearing darker shades.

For instance, let’s say you would wear a khaki bomber jacket, white t-shirt, light blue jeans and white trainers as a casual outfit.

Now, swap the bomber jacket for a navy one and your jeans for black. All of a sudden, you’ll look smarter! 

To take this further, swap your white t-shirt for grey and swap your trainers to black too.

So even though the style is exactly the same, the overall effect is different.

What we’re trying to say is the darker your clothes, the smarter you’ll appear and the same can be said for the reverse: wear lighter colours to appear more casual.

3. Put Your Best Foot Forward

There are sometimes occasions where trainers will not be accepted, so if you’re in doubt, play it safe and opt for shoes instead.

Rather than Oxfords, which are very formal, Derby shoes, loafers, Chelsea boots and chukkas are a safe bet. But you’ll need to tread carefully as even these can come across very smart or very casual.

In terms of colour, black would be the most smart. Brown is more casual and tan, even more so.

Next, take a look at the shoes’ shape. The more rounded the toe, the more casual they will come across, as well as the thickness of the soul.

In addition, the material of the shoe will make a difference too. It comes as no surprise, nubby materials like suede are more casual than shiny leather, for example.

On the other hand, on some occasions trainers will be permitted and generally speaking, most men will opt for a fresh, white pair. And for good reason too, as they can be paired with almost anything and is a fashion trend that will not be disappearing any time soon.

However, a darker pair of trainers, particularly leather, will look smarter and draw less attention to the eye. 

Finishing Thoughts

Overall, smart casual for men generally means a pair of dark jeans, a collared shirt and unstructured blazer finished with a pair of derby shoes or smart trainers.

Ultimately though, fashion is what you make of it and you should always stay true to your personal style.

As long as you’re not turning up to an event with shorts and sandals, nailing the smart casual look is easier than you think!

Please contact us to find out more.

In the meantime, take a look at our full range of Smart Casual Shoes for Men here.

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