Smart Casual Dress Code Explained – What To Wear With Style For Men & What Not – Gentleman’ Gazette

Smart Casual Dress Code Explained – What To Wear With Style For Men & What Not – Gentleman’ Gazette


Welcome back to the gentleman’s Gazette and
our series about dress codes. Today, we discuss smart casual, what it means,
what the dos are, what the don’ts are, so you don’t show up in a hoodie with a dress
shirt. Even 20 years ago, dress codes were much more
defined and people clearly understood what they meant, however, in recent years, fashion
and clothes have become more casualized and because of that, new dress codes have evolved. The term casual today can be anything from
gym clothes or athleisure, all the way up to something that’s office appropriate such
as a dress shirt and chinos. Now obviously, there is a big disconnect and
just having the casual dress code is no longer enough. So if you get an invitation with a dress code
smart casual, I hear your pain. You really don’t know exactly what to wear
so we’ll help you out, we will define what smart casual is, what it’s not, the historic
background, as well as the do’s and don’ts. So what exactly is smart casual? Historically, the term was coined because
people showed up overly casual and the smart implied that you can’t show up with joggers
and trainers. If you look at the urban dictionary, it defines
smart casual as a nonsensical dress code that people slap on to events, parties, and workplaces. Completely down to interpretation, this always
causes confusion and often spectacular results. The mixture between smart and casual should
not be taken literally. So while it’s hilarious, sadly, it’s not very
helpful. So here is our definition of smart casual. First, the urban dictionary got it right by
saying don’t take it literally. That means, don’t wear tennis shoes with a
dress shirt, or combine sweatpants with a blazer. So in a nutshell, smart casual is not about
mixing different pieces of clothing from different degrees of formality but rather to pick something
that is in between a very casual outfit and a formal or businesslike outfit. A hoodie would be too casual and pleated wool
dress pants would be too formal, instead, if you go with chinos, they are less formal,
as well as a polo shirt, you hit that perfect sweet spot of smart casual. Personally, I like the idea of a smart casual
dress code because it allows you to use lots of colors and to combine different things
that you may not have combined otherwise. Ideally, you always want to avoid looks at
the extreme end of the spectrum, that means no jeans, no trainers, no hoodies, or no sweatpants. At the same time, it also means no neckwear,
no suits, no pleated pants, and no black dress shoes. So where do you usually encounter the smart
casual dress code? It’s not at the office because there are different
terms such as business casual and to learn more about that, you can check out our video
here You can usually find smart casual dress codes
in a social environment such as cruise ships, restaurants, or resorts. The whole idea is to look neat and presentable
without being overly stuffy. So let’s say you work in a white-collar office
and you have an invitation to a smart casual event afterwards and you usually wear dress
shirts, ties, and pinstripe suits, you definitely want to bring a change of clothes. If you’re a bit more flexible at the office,
you can get away with wearing a blazer and chinos for example, as well as a tie, but
when you go to the smart casual party, I suggest to take off the tie, add a bold pocket square,
maybe a boutonniere, have some bolder socks and shoes and brown tones or more colors such
as dark red, dark green, or navy, and it just creates a more fun outfit that is not as boring
or stuffy formal as you would usually know from an office environment. So if you’re unsure whether you should dress
up a little more or dress down, I suggest you always dress up because that way, you
don’t embarrass yourself. Of course, always stay within that smart casual
range which means below business wear. Now that we defined the broad range of smart
casual, let’s talk about specific items you can wear. On the formal side would be an odd jacket
or a blazer. Odd jacket meaning it has a bolder pattern,
another color, and it doesn’t match the pants. You don’t want to wear a suit, a combination
at most. Also, that means, don’t wear orphaned suit
jackets from your pinstripe suit with a Nantucket red pair of pants because it’s simply odd
and doesn’t work together. Of course, if you want to be more casual with
your jacket choice, you can absolutely do that. You could go with a Harrington jacket in cotton,
maybe a linen jacket such as this green one, I would even argue you could wear a bomber
jacket or maybe a leather jacket if that suits the overall outfit. When it comes to shirts, you should definitely
stay clear of t-shirts but you can wear dress shirts. That being said, I suggest not to wear plain
white or solid light blue dress shirts because they’re true business formal. Instead, go with checked shirts maybe in a
collar such as the green one I’m wearing here right now. You can also go with other checks and other
colors may be bolder checks, smaller checks may be a small houndstooth or a bold stripe. It all works, just make sure there’s some
contrast, there’s some color, and it’s not too stiff. If you live in a warmer climate, linen shirts
are perfectly fine. Personally, I would always stay clear of short-sleeved
dress shirts and instead go with polo shirts because it’s more natural and works better. To learn more about polo shirts, how to wear
them, what not to do, please check out this in-depth guide series here. When it comes to pants or slacks, don’t wear
jeans and don’t wear pleated pants made out of worsted wool because that’s office wear
and both of them are too extreme. Instead, go with chinos, may be corduroys
in the winter, seersucker or linen in the summer, or something with a bit more texture
that’s interesting and it could also have a pattern such as a small houndstooth for
example. When it comes to accessories, color is your
friend. You can be much bolder than at the office
and you can experiment and simply have fun. I suggest you skip bowties and regular neckties. if you want to have something around your
neck, maybe an ascot can be the perfect item. To learn more how to tie it properly so you
look perfect in smart casual, please check out this video here. If you decide to wear a blazer or an odd jacket,
I strongly recommend you wear a bold pocket square or maybe a boutonniere that is just
contrasting, it’s a pop of color, it’s different, and it’s fun. Definitely, avoid the white linen pocket square
in TV fold, that’s fine for a job interview or the office but not for smart casual. Another way I like to spice up smart casual
outfits is to use colorful socks. You could be bolder, you can experiment, you
can go really out there, or you can be a little more subdued. Personally, I want a subdued side and for
a full range of colorful socks that are tasteful as well as pocket squares and boutonnieres
please head over to our shop and check it out there. Iff it’s cold outside and you need some gloves,
I suggest to go with fun colors such as dark green, maybe a light tan, blue, or red, and
stay clear of the traditional black gloves, or just boring Brown gloves. That being said, if you want to stick with
those colors, make sure you get two-toned gloves such as these black and red gloves
by Fort Belvedere or the brown and blue gloves which are definitely not your Grandpa’s gloves. When it comes to shoes, I suggest you stay
with leather shoes. They can have a leather sole or a rubber sole
but they must not be black because that’s too formal. Instead, go with brown tones or tans but you
can also venture into green, maybe off-white, or dark burgundy red. All these colors are acceptable but I urge
you to choose a style that is more casual with more casual details. As such, spectators work. You can go with woven leather, or maybe a
linen insert, suede is also good. Just get something that’s more casual than
a traditional business shoe. That being said, Derbies are more appropriate
than Oxfords but there are oxfords that would be just fine for smart casual as long as they
are not too dark and they have maybe a full brogue pattern. Apart from that, I think two tone tassel loafers
are great or maybe just regular penny loafers, some people even like driving moccs even though
I think they wear very quickly if you wear them on a daily basis but they work from a
concept point of view. On a very casual end, I suggest shoes go with
boat shoes because they are still leather and they’re still relaxed and you can even
wear them barefoot. While it’s clear that tennis shoes and trainers
are too casual, a lot of people like designer sneakers or leather sneakers and in my opinion,
they’re in a gray area personally, I wouldn’t wear it because I find it too casual but I
know other people who would probably find a sneaker still appropriate. At the end of the day, it’s your call. Personally, I’d always urge you to get a little
bit more formal within the smart casual dress code because that way, you always look dapper
and properly attired. No one will turn you down, everyone will respect
you, and they will know that you understood the smart casual dress code. if you enjoyed this video you may also want
to see the other videos in our dress code series. In any case, give us a thumbs up and subscribe
to our channel so videos like this come right to your inbox In today’s video, I am wearing a smart casual
outfit that I could wear during the colder days of the year. It consists of a heavy knit cardigan however
it’s a lighter color which is about off white or beige I paired with a green long-sleeved
dress shirt that is checked with white which breaks up the monotony of the solid cardigan
I’m pairing it with navy corduroy pants and contrasting chukka boots that go well with
my cardigan that way the overall outfit is tied together for my socks I opted for green
and brown shadow striped socks so the green pick up the color of my shirt and the brown
pick up the color of the shoe sole thus tying everything in my outfit well together if it
was colder outside I’d wear this green duffle coat but because it’s so bright I would opt
for more muted colors for my gloves such as a petrol blue and maybe a dark red and dark
blue double sided scarf from Fort Belvedere you can find all the accessories in our shop
here

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About the Author: John Markowski

100 Comments

  1. your bookshelves have some interesting titles, especially the ones titled "Versailles" and "I am dandy", I'd love to know if the Congo Dandies are mentioned.

  2. Actually I was confused , there is
    Business casual, smart casual, dressy casual & casual chic
    I can see that they are all almost the same
    Can you differentiate between them ?

  3. Great topic! This is what I wear almost every day. I also wear smart casual to work, as I work in a casual, fabrication shop setting in a small city. I am always looking for ways to dress up a bit without being too formal and alienating my co-workers.

  4. Yep, I'd wear sneakers with smart casual outfits too, as long as the outfit is on the more casual side. ESPECIALLY leather sneakers, or high quality/minimalist sneakers. Such as Common Projects Achilles in White. But once again, thanks for this great video.

  5. As always, perfectly put together video, a love to watch ! I have had a question for a very long time and wanted to ask you about it, maybe you know some magic trick: I usually find it difficult to put on over the calf socks because they block my pants around the knee area, even though I'm quite a slim guy. Did you find this to be a problem and if so, how do you deal with it? Many thanks for your videos and your overall work. Salutations françaises !

  6. Ahah, you shouldn't take urban dictionary seriously. It is made to be sarcastic and poke fun of urban interpretations of words. Great video however!

  7. i think the right, dark pair of jeans done properly, say with a patterned dress shirt and a sport coat and appropriate leather shoes easily takes the title of "smart casual". but i guess, you are gonna disagree with me on this too LOL! just like how i think your current outfit is a tad below the smart casual level.

  8. Thank you so much for this video. Always loved your content, but can't always afford all the suggestions xD – one day. This has been the most relatable video as my work events ALWAYS have smart casual. Few truly follow it unfortunately, following more of a business/semi formal dress code…maybe because the majority also didn't know what to make of smart casual dress haha. Thanks!

  9. Hey konstantin from Greece. Could you please give me a link about your saxophone cover intro of your videos.

  10. Hi Sven great vid again. This Saturday I have a school reunion with an evening dinner and going out afterwards. I'm deciding between a black suit with a blue/black plain/paisley tie and black Oxfords or a designer blue Versace suit with a blue Versace tie and Gucci loafers, what would you suggest? I also have a dinner shirt with a black/white bow tie but I've currently ruled that out though last Saturday night I saw a couple of dinner suites with bow ties??

  11. Well my go to outfit consists of a roll neck, jeans and Chelsea Boots or minimalistic sneakers and I personally would describe this as smart casual since you can always dress it up by wearing a sports jacket or another smart jacket.

  12. You mention that you avoid short-sleeved dress shirts for smart casual. What about Tommy Bahama or similar styles? What about an-tucked short-sleeved button-down like an OCBD?

  13. Genuinely chuffed to see another video by Gentlema's Gazette. Good advice, I will, however, say that may be the ascot tie is a bit over the top for smart casual, but then again, every one has a different interpretation.

  14. I work at a startup and smart casual is my jam! Not looking like a tech bro is important to me, but I don't want to look like I just came from an interview at an investment bank.

  15. Last Friday, I had a “Smart-Casual” Cricket Wind Up Event/Dinner
    I wore navy chinos, and a navy Ralph Lauren Polo
    While some of my teammate had full suits and others had casual business clothing

  16. Question to our wonderful community:
    Is a tuxedo still unformal evening wear or semi-formal evening wear?
    I am a but confused, because my dressing up mind is still in 30s.

  17. Hi! Thank you for this good video. Like you seem to say, the level of casual depends on the dress code in the workplace. At my place, I am wearing what you call "smart casual". The rules that I break: wearing a unicolor blue or white office shirt, a tie and black shoes (if it fits with the rest). I also stay away from bright colors, as it is a workplace.
    Still, I overdress my colleagues, who use to wear hooded sweaters and jeans. But I don't want to overdress too much with a suit (except for special events).

  18. I know this is a topic that we could all debate for days, but my take:
    Agrees
    keep the shoes smart, sneakers are too casual for me
    coloured accessories and socks
    chinos

    Disagrees
    jeans with a good fit, such as slimmer fit are good for smart casual
    white shirt with jeans is decent smart casual
    T-shirt and blazer combo, if properly done, looks pretty decent
    polos are too casual for me, though i don't like polos at all so maybe that's my bias.

  19. Hello Sven, I have an important question for you. I am planning to attend the Viennese Ball next year and gathering the pieces for the white tie dress code. I already have black formal shoes, but those are double monk straps (solid black, captoe). Can those be considered appropriate for white/black tie events? If not, can I wear black brogues? I just personally do not like black oxfords without broguing.

  20. I am 60 years old,I work on the roads and when I attempt to wear these outfits I look even older.What am I doing wrong.

  21. Hey Raphael ! I would like to know what are your thoughts on streetwear , such as brands like supreme , palace , bape….etc. As a young man trying to become more stylish , I'm still surrounded by this "street-style". What are your thoughts ? Thanks a lot for inspiring me to become a gentleman 🙂
    Greetings
    Stanislas Millet

  22. Unrelated, but I've got a question for you Sven, or anyone else. What are the rules about wearing a watch? What kind of shirt cuffs? I can't wear it to black tie events, correct? Anything else? Thanks a bunch

  23. I don't know what to say after watching this, thought it would be a good source of inspiration. Correct size would be good, everything looks like you should wear a few sizes smaller for it to look proper. Maybe it's just me not agreeing with your style though, feels very American for me as a European.

  24. Upscale Resort is the idea I form in my mind, like Bermuda shorts and canvas boating shoes, Marinière with neckerchief, or Cricket sweater over white Polo shirt for Summer ; Duffle-coat, scarf and leather gloves over corduroy pants and leather hiking boots with shawl collar sweater and cravat for Winter. And Mr Schneider, teasing your viewers with your flesh may be funny, but wayyy too casual… Hahaha! Cheers!

  25. Anytime I watch one of these videos, i'm constantly reminded i need to step up my sock game. This guy is on a whole other level and we all need to catch up.

  26. I haven't worn polo shirts since I was elementary school, but I'm potentially considering them so that I can look more 'dressy' within casual settings—settings within which a suit would be too formal. What do others think about polo shirts? If others think they're too preppy or cheesy, then what about softer, more drape-y polo shirts?

  27. I think you got it wrong here mate. Wearing a daggy beige cardy for smart casual? I don't think so. Plus, jeans aren't strictly a no-no. They can be paired with a sport coat to great affect. Love your videos usually, but I think you missed the mark on this one.

  28. Thank you for rescuing me. I got an event invitation that specified smart casual. Because you "felt" my "pain", you were able to save me from what would have been a fashion disaster.

  29. Hi Sven, I love the videos. I start a new job on Monday as a Health and Safety Advisor for a company here in the UK. The dress code is Smart Casual. I'm a bit worried about getting it wrong on the first day so i'm thinking of dressing up and wearing a suit until I can gauge what everyone else wears. I feel more comfortable dressing up than dressing down so I may end up wearing a suit every day.

    Any advice would be great.
    Thanks
    Ches

  30. Could you talk to about dressing in hot climes? I live on the west coast of Florida and it's hot. Really hot. All the time.
    Cheers.

  31. What is a channel called the Gentleman's Gazette doing citing Urban Dictionary? I'm pretty sure that extreme profanity and inaccurate information are not considered very gentlemanlike.

  32. There’s shirt you’re wearing in this video bothers me because of the opening at the upper chest. I think it just looks sloppy. Of course I know the top buttons are not to be buttoned but in this case and many others I’ve seen in your videos that aspect bothers me. Please understand this comment comes from a complete sartorial hobbyist. By the way I really enjoy and learn a lot from your videos thank you so much!!

  33. Employers put their workers on contracts as casual as possible so that demands I dress as casual as possible. 5:30 – too geeky. 8:18 I avoid Oxfords even for formal wear because they lack character. 9:01 Nice.

  34. I don’t understand how a “dress shirt” is part of “smart casual”. “Dress shirt” means you are dressed up. This is so confusing!

  35. My opion toward Smart casual is a bit different with you. Personally, there is a wide range of outfits with regard to Smart Casual. This dresscode can be anything, except those formal daywear/evening wear – such as black tie, white tie, morning suit, etc – those formal looks for work enviroment – business attire or semi formal – those extremly casual look with t shirt, short and slices. In conclusion, any outfit with animated and bold look properly is Smart Casual. For instant, A navy suit, a light pink dress shirt, bold pattern tie, paisley pocket square, dark brown oxford shoes with a red shoes lace, wrists, this ensemble is smart casual.

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