Smart Casual Dress Code Explained - What To Wear With Style For Men & What Not - Gentleman' Gazette

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What do you wear when the dress code says SMART CASUAL?https://gentl.mn/smart-casual

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The term casual today can be anything from gym clothes or athleisure, all the way up to something that's office appropriate such as a dress shirt and chinos. Now obviously, there is a big disconnect and just having the casual dress code is no longer enough. So if you get an invitation with a dress code smart casual, I hear your pain.

You really don't know exactly what to wear so we'll help you out, we will define what smart casual is, what it's not, the historic background, as well as the do's and don'ts.

So what exactly is smart casual?

Historically, the term was coined because people showed up overly casual and the smart implied that you can't show up with joggers and trainers. If you look at the urban dictionary, it defines smart casual as a nonsensical dress code that people slap on to events, parties, and workplaces. Completely down to interpretation, this always causes confusion and often spectacular results. The mixture between smart and casual should not be taken literally. So while it's hilarious, sadly, it's not very helpful. So here is our definition of smart casual.

First, the urban dictionary got it right by saying don't take it literally. That means, don't wear tennis shoes with a dress shirt, or combine sweatpants with a blazer. So in a nutshell, smart casual is not about mixing different pieces of clothing from different degrees of formality but rather to pick something that is in between a very casual outfit and a formal or businesslike outfit. A hoodie would be too casual and pleated wool dress pants would be too formal, instead, if you go with chinos, they are less formal, as well as a polo shirt, you hit that perfect sweet spot of smart casual.

You can usually find smart casual dress codes in a social environment such as cruise ships, restaurants, or resorts. The whole idea is to look neat and presentable without being overly stuffy. So let's say you work in a white-collar office and you have an invitation to a smart casual event afterwards and you usually wear dress shirts, ties, and pinstripe suits, you definitely want to bring a change of clothes.

Now that we defined the broad range of smart casual, let's talk about specific items you can wear.

On the formal side would be an odd jacket or a blazer. Odd jacket meaning it has a bolder pattern, another color, and it doesn't match the pants. You don't want to wear a suit, a combination at most.

When it comes to shirts, you should definitely stay clear of t-shirts but you can wear dress shirts. Go with checked shirts maybe in a collar such as the green one I'm wearing here right now.

When it comes to pants or slacks, don't wear jeans and don't wear pleated pants made out of worsted wool because that's office wear and both of them are too extreme.

When it comes to accessories, color is your friend. You can be much bolder than at the office and you can experiment and simply have fun.

If you decide to wear a blazer or an odd jacket, I strongly recommend you wear a bold pocket square or maybe a boutonniere that is just contrasting, it's a pop of color, it's different, and it's fun.

Another way I like to spice up smart casual outfits is to use colorful socks. You could be bolder, you can experiment, you can go really out there, or you can be a little more subdued.

If it's cold outside and you need some gloves, I suggest to go with fun colors such as dark green, maybe a light tan, blue, or red, and stay clear of the traditional black gloves, or just boring Brown gloves.

When it comes to shoes, I suggest you stay with leather shoes. They can have a leather sole or a rubber sole but they must not be black because that's too formal. Instead, go with brown tones or tans but you can also venture into green, maybe off-white, or dark burgundy red

At the end of the day, it's your call. Personally, I'd always urge you to get a little bit more formal within the smart casual dress code because that way, you always look dapper and properly attired.

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