Suit and tie is easy – dressing in ‘smart casual’ can sometimes confuse the best of men. Here’s a guide that any guy can follow…
Trying to define ‘smart casual’ is a bit like wrestling with a greased-up Sumo: almost impossible to grapple with.
Depending who you ask, the maligned dress code covers everything from shorts at the casual end of the spectrum right up to ties at the more formal end. Consult a couple of dictionaries and you’ll find about as much agreement as a debate between Trump and Clinton supporters.
In 2017, the basic rule of thumb is that it should look formal and dressed up one the one hand, but feel comfortable and full of personality on the other; somewhere between the stuff you lounge around the house in and what you look like when you leave the office.
So what are some go-to smart casual combinations? Here’s five that work every time.
Blazer, chinos, white shirt, brown leather
Safe, classic, and zero thought needed, combining staples modern men should already have in their wardrobe. Chinos are a step back from the suit you wear to work, while the blazer and Oxford shoes are a step forward from the casual wear you’d wear to a cafe on a Saturday morning. With such a simple outfit, use the blazer to add some individual flair either through texture, colour, or pattern.
Blazer, jeans, tee and trainers
Smart casual means more than whacking a blazer over a casual outfit — but combining pressed denim, a sturdy cotton tee, and a clean pair of designer trainers with a tailored jacket is a winning combo. The key to pulling off these more laid-back garments in a smart casual environment is immaculate presentation and grooming — not just a blazer over some baggy dad jeans and beat-up old sneakers.
Bomber, chinos, shirt, leather
This outfit is the opposite of the previous one — everything is quite formal before until the outerwear provides the casual touch. Find a well cut jacket in a dressier colour like navy — the military’s classic olive green baggy numbers are a tick too grungy — to put a laid-back complexion on the rest of the outfit.
Tan blazer and dark denim
Also known as the old switch-a-roo — take a formal garment (the blazer) and make it more casual with a light brown shade, then take a casual staple (jeans) to the dressier end of the scale with dark raw denim. Both the outfit as a whole as well as each garment straddles that balance between smart and casual. The same goes for less serious, more playful footwear like tasseled loafers or driving shoes.
Blazer and flannel shirt
Colour isn’t the only way you can prevent your smart casual get-up from looking too stuffy — contrasting texture is a good tactic, too. A matte flannel shirt beneath your blazer keeps things looking soft and cosy and casual, as does a knit jumper, or a tweed jacket over your shirt.