Our Guide to: Smart Casual
Smart casual, two words that mean the complete opposite, yet when done right, make so much sense. This often-called for dress code has the ability to set the most seasoned dresser into a state of outfit anxiety, and while there are differing opinions on the do’s and don’ts, we present a guide that'll have you nailing it every-time.
What is it? and why do we like it?
The general idea is to build a look from pieces that are smarter, and blend them with casual pieces to strike a balance somewhere between the smart, and the casual. Context is everything, and the key to mastering it ultimately depends on the occasion.
Smart casual, when executed well, will take you from desk to dinner without any necessary wardrobe changes or second-guessing, and the versatility it offers will stand you in good stead for managing an efficient capsule wardrobe to save you time otherwise painfully-spent changing outfits before and between events.
Can I wear a tee shirt?
There’s an assumption that smart casual precludes tee shirts - which isn't true. As an extremely versatile staple, tees are a great way to take the ‘overdressed’ out of an outfit.
A tee and jeans alone together are too casual but add a blazer, and now you’re ready for dinner. A fitted suit can be overdressed, but replace the shirt with a tee, and now you’re ready for that cocktail party. The crux to nailing a tee in a smart casual ensemble is to make sure there are no distressing, fading, loud colours or logos.
The occasion is everything with smart casual, but a tee, when paired well, will always get a ticket to the party.
Are jeans smart casual?
In short - Yes. Jeans work well in smart casual getups, especially in the colder months. Make sure your jeans are of a darker wash and have no distressing on them (our Raw Denim Jean is a good example of this).
Most guys will have opted for either dress pants or chinos on the lower half, but jeans offer you creative license to play around with something a bit more formal on the top half, like an untucked oxford, knitted sweater, or an unstructured blazer.
Are dress pants too formal?
Not always, it all depends on how you style them. You can incorporate a pair of dress pants into a smart casual outfit with ease - and they pair quite well with both sneakers and dress shoes.
If you are wearing more formal shoes and want a smart-casual finish, we’d suggest using a more casual layer on top, like a tee, sweat crew, or vest, to tone down that formality. Remember, you can always add a topcoat, and dress it down with a tee - or vice versa with an oxford, and an overshirt when wearing your dress pants with sneakers.
What should I wear with chinos?
Chinos are incredibly versatile and because they sit in the sweet spot between smart and casual, you might find yourself looking for some inspiration for the top half. Depending on the occasion, you can pair a classic chino with a blazer to elevate it or instead wear them with a button-down on top, layered with a more casual outerwear piece like a topcoat, vest, or shacket.
You can’t go wrong with a classic chino, like our Daily Chino, which punches well above its weight as an interchangeable staple. These go with almost everything, which is going to save you a lot of time when it comes to putting outfits together.