How To Master The Smart Casual Dress Code

The term ‘Smart Casual’ not only allows for multiple interpretations but also, implies that, there is something called as, un-smart casuals, or as I like to call it, an old pair of lounge-at-home PJs. Nothing wrong with those, but it isn’t great to wear them outside for anything longer than a milk run. 

Smart casual implies clothing must be spiffy i.e. improve our outward appearance, and yet superbly comfortable. Imagine a suit which fits like a glove but caresses like a tracksuit. It’s the dressing that you can play catch in at the park and yet walk into a bar afterwards and still be up to the dress code. Smart casual, easy as it sounds, is not always easy to get right.

So, what made Smart Casual popular? - Workfolk didn’t wish to remain trussed up in a suit and tie for post-work drinks and weren’t willing to carry a change of clothes either. Also, a dialled-down dress code broke down the existing social construct of formality, thereby making soirées more breezy affairs. Comfortable people hang around longer, and maybe even make better conversations. 

Finally, what constitutes smart casuals – collared tees, Cuban (or printed) shirts (half-sleeved or a full-sleeved rolled up), jeans, chinos, gabardines or corduroys (mostly flat fronts with cutaway pockets) are the standard set, rounded off with slip-ons like penny loafers or car shoes. Add joggers, track tops, printed tees and sneakers to this list, and you have the updated contemporary version. If you must, carry an unlined 2-button jacket, a shacket, or a rain-and-wind-blocking parka, and you are now ‘smart casual’ ready for all situations and weather.

To sum up:

  1. Casuals are good for when it’s you and the dog hanging at home; for anything else, make a more concerted effort. 
  2. Smart casuals should see you through the day whether it’s at work, hanging socially, or hopping flights. 
  3. While it says casual, keep the flashy element low, or only as an accent.
  4. Dress to be instantly memorable and yet long-term inconspicuous.
  5. One last parting caveat: if the invite doesn’t say smart casuals, always play safe and level up.
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About the author: Magandeep Singh is a peripatetic hedonist who is constantly trying to find ways to keep things heady yet healthy. He is admittedly vain and avoids confrontations with his inner self. He loves to concoct drinks, participate in triathlons, learn DJing and languages,and SCUBA. In his free time, he works.