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. 

What is smart casual clothing?

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.

How to Style with Men’s Smart Casual Wear

Smart casuals are all about looking good with minimal effort. Here are some basic pieces of clothing that you should definitely have in your smart casual wardrobe:

Trousers or Cargo Joggers

Cargo joggers have a smart and clean look that makes them ideal for your smart casual wardrobe. Plus, it is very comfortable, so you can be on top of your tasks.

Polo T-Shirts

Polo t-shirts are the perfect blend of casual and formal. The collar gives it a formal look, but it is super comfortable and easy to maintain. You can easily dress up or dress down in a polo.


Blazers are generally considered to be formal wear, but did you know that casual blazers are also available in the market? You can invest in a simple black or blue blazer that would go with any outfit. 


Solid, plain T-shirts can be worn as smart casual dresses. Avoid any funky prints, vibrant colours or graphic t-shirts.

Where Can You Wear Smart Casual Clothing For Men?

These are the occasions for male smart casual wear:


Although formals are considered to be the best choice for office wear, you can wear a smart casual dress to work on casual Fridays, off-site meetings, or for work from home days. You can pair cargo pants with a smart polo t-shirt for a clean look.

Business Meetings

If you have a business meeting in an informal setting, you can don your comfy business casual dress for men. Just pair a blazer with a solid-coloured polo t-shirt and chino trousers for a sophisticated casual look.


A smart casual dress will make you stand out from the crowd at any party. Carry your charm with a t-shirt and cargo joggers to look stunning in smart casual attire for a party.

Smart Casual Events

If you are attending any event which is not formal, like office lunches, book launches, charity events, etc., you can pair your trousers with a polo t-shirt and a pair of loafers to complete your charming, smart casual attire for men.

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.

FAQs on Smart Casual Dressing

What should I wear for a smart casual evening event?

For a smart casual event, dress up with a comfy and simple pair of trousers and pair it up with a polo t-shirt. You can elevate your look by adding a blazer or dinner jacket with it.

Are shorts acceptable in a smart casual dress code male?

Yes, specific types of shorts are acceptable male smart casual wear, such as chino shorts or pleated shorts. Do not wear boxer shorts or athletic shorts to a smart casual event because that would be inappropriate.

What are the essential pieces for a smart casual wardrobe?

You should at least have the basics like a pair of black/brown cargo joggers, neutral colour solid t-shirts like white, beige, tan and black, a casual blazer, and a pair of loafers. After you have a basic wardrobe, you can add chino shorts, printed polo t-shirts and knits as well.

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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.