Dress codes: for the uninitiated, they can be confounding, anxiety-inducing and incredibly hard to interpret. Get them wrong and you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. You don’t want to be the only guy in a tux whilst everyone else is in relaxed clothes, but you also don’t want to be the only man in thongs when everyone’s dressed to the nines!
One of the most difficult to interpret dress codes is “smart casual.” The mere name itself seems to contradict itself! This dress code is most commonly seen on invitations for birthdays, engagement parties and other special social gatherings, so it does crop up quite a bit!
Well, be intimidated no longer – it’s time to shed some light on what ‘smart casual’ calls for so you don’t get caught unaware again.
To make this easy, here is a breakdown of what you can and can’t wear on top and bottom, so you can mix and match.
What’s Acceptable on the Top Half?
Dress jackets, such as these ones from Politix, are spot on, especially if worn with a nice dress shirt. If the weather is on the warm side, a nice, crisp dress shirt (long or short sleeved) is the perfect choice. If it’s a little chilly out, a well-fitting, undone blazer or nice jacket over the top will keep the style casual but well dressed.
If it’s an outdoor event, a pair of sophisticated sunglasses is also acceptable, as long as they match the rest of your outfit. A casual tie or bowtie can never go astray with a suitable outfit.
Band t-shirts, ripped t-shirts, hoodies, jumpers, and cowboy hats are all no-nos.
What’s Acceptable on the Bottom Half
Simple slacks or chinos are a great smart casual choice. They can be as colourful or as subtle as your style dictates – usually these clothing items come in every colour!
A dark fitting pair of denim dress jeans can be paired with a nice shirt for the dress code. Just make sure they aren’t too baggy! If it’s warm, a nice pair of fitted shorts also fits the bill for smart casual.
When it comes to shoes, there are a number of options that will work wonders for you with this dress code. Leather shoes, boat shoes, and, in some cases, brand-name sneakers can be incorporated into your outfit.
Leave the board shorts for the beach and the cargo pants for camouflage in the jungle. Running shoes and anything you’d wear to the gym should be rejected.
Now you have all the acceptable and unacceptable options for a smart casual dress code. Save this guide and check back whenever you’re unsure about what you can wear and what you should leave at home. Smart casual gives you some room to play with your outfit (you aren’t restricted to a dark tuxedo) so get creative with your clothing choices and don’t be caught unaware again!
What are your favourite things to wear for a smart casual dress code event?