Smart Casual Dressing Tips for Men & Women

11 months ago / by Team SEEMA
Smart Casual
Image credits: senivpetro via Freepik

Casual Fashion

When it comes to men’s style, most of a man’s sense of fashion was defined by the clothing he wore to work. You’ll see this principle in many TV shows and movies that are time-period-specific. In the workplace, a man normally dressed according to his title, meaning the managers and executives of a company wore more formal clothing while lower-level employees were dressed in casual wear.

Today, fashion for men and women is about more than what they wear to the office. People can now wear casual fashion pieces in many office setting, which gives thems a chance to show off their personal style while remaining professional. Women and men can also wear cute casual outfits that will take them from a day at the office to a night on the town. Layered pieces, sensible shoes, and tailored clothing pieces make it possible for casual attire to be appropriate in a number of social settings.

If you’re wondering “what is casual attire?” and how you can incorporate it into your wardrobe, here are a few things you should know about the ‘smart casual’ dress code.

When Did “Smart Casual” Originate?

Reportedly, the first time casual outfits were referred to as “smart casual” was in 1924. A fashion writer was explaining the look of a sleeveless dress that was deemed appropriate for “streetwear.” The dress was modest yet comfortable to move in, and clothing pieces like it were labeled “smart casual,” a term we still use today.

Later, in the 1950s, “smart casual” was used to describe men’s clothing. The term was used for suits that weren’t as dressy as what a man would wear to work. These leisure suits became a staple in men’s fashion since they could wear them to both special occasions and casual get-togethers.

This fashion as we currently know it became popular in the 1980s. Formal outfits for the office were not always the norm during this decade and many people were combining their professional attire with street style to include more colors and textures in their outfits.

What Is Smart Casual Attire?

This clothing mixes polished professional wear and casual attire to create an entire look. This means a smart casual outfit could consist of dresses pants and a polo shirt, or jeans with a nice blouse. It looks often combine pieces of different formality levels to create a look that is unique to the wearer.

When Should You Wear Smart Casual Attire?

Since this clothing combines professional, casual, and formal wear, you can wear the look for after-work events such as meeting friends for dinner or going to a networking party. If you work in an office with a more relaxed dress code, smart casual pieces are appropriate for the workplace as well.

To better understand whether this outfit is the right choice for an event, you should be aware of what the smart casual is not. Dressy wear is not smart casual, and dressy clothing should be worn to an event like a wedding or funeral, or to a job interview, even if your office has a casual dress code. If you work in an office that requires you to wear a suit every day, it would not be appropriate to wear the smart casual look to work.

Smart Casual Tips for Women

Women can express their style using the smart casual with a number of pieces that are flattering and comfortable.

When it comes to tops, blouses with eye-catching patterns, button-downs, and other types of collard shirts with sleeves are often appropriate for a work setting. If you need to make the outfit a little dressier, you can add a blazer. This clothing does not entail tops with apparent logos or graphics.

For bottoms, silk pants, dress pants, or chinos are great choices for this wear. Denim is appropriate if the jeans are dark-wash, and it is best to wear tailored jeans that are not distressed to add refinement to this casual look. Women can also wear skirts as part of their smart casual look. pencil skirts and long, flowing skirts are appropriate, but skirts that have formal accents like pinsrtipes should be avoided since these items are considered business casual.

Women also have several options when it comes to smart casual shoes. Ballet flats, as well as loafers and Oxfords work well to bring a casual outfit together. Women who wear heels with a smart casual look may want to wear the shoes with a more casual item like jeans to add balance to the outfit. Shoes should be clean and free of scuffs to tie the look together.

There are several one-piece outfits or jumpers that are a fashionable part of casual wear as well. Collared shirt dresses and sheath dresses can instantly flatter the silhouette and these work-ready pieces are comfortable enough for all-day wear. Jumpsuits are a unique way to display personal style while still adhering to smart casual guidelines. Depending on the formality level of your office, you can opt for patterned jumpsuits or choose one-piece outfits in a neutral color. Avoid dresses that are floor-length since this may be considered too casual or too formal depending on the material of the clothing.

This look also include accessories. Women should opt for demure accessories to add sophistication to this laid-back look. Diamond or pearl earrings, an understated necklace, and small bracelets are appropriate. A high-quality watch that is isn’t too flashy is an ideal finishing touch.

Smart Casual Guidelines for Men

Men can easily pull off the smart casual trend as well. As mentioned before, workplace still helps to create the standard of casual wear for men.

In terms of tops, button-down shirts are always a great option. The shorts can be short or long-sleeved and neutral or muted shades are best. Bright hues are allowed if your office is not as formal or if you’re wearing the shirt to an event where the color is requested. You can also wear a polo shirt but it’s best to pair the shirt with dress pants so the look isn’t too dressed-down.

Aside from dress pants, chinos and slacks are in keeping with the smart casual trend as well. Jeans are appropriate for a men’s smart casual look as well, but the jeans should be tailored and dark-wash without any holes or distressed accents.

Men can also wear Oxfords or loafers to finish off their smart casual look. Leather shoes are the dressiest, but suede works well, too. Shoes that are too casual, such as running shoes, are not recommended.

The final touches for a smart casual look for men includes a watch or bracelet that is not too flashy.

There are plenty of ways to express your style while still looking professional in a corporate setting.

Here’s to looking and feeling your best!


Can you wear jeans in smart casual?

Jeans are considered smart casual attire. If you want to make your casual outfits appropriate for the office or a dressier gathering, choose dark jeans that are tailored for a polished fit. You can also wear jeans with heels or dress shoes to make your look more sophisticated.

Can you wear sneakers for smart casual?

Sneakers are definitely part of casual style, but if you want to put together a smart casual outfit that will ensure you look your best, it is best to choose sneakers that are clean, high-quality, and minimalist. Sneakers in neutral tones like brown or black help to bring your outfit together while still allowing you to be comfortable.

Is a sweatshirt smart casual?

Casual outfits can include sweatshirts but you should choose sweatshirts that complement your overall look. Sweatshirts that include chic materials like faux leather or faux fur make your outfit look more refined, and you can pair the sweatshirts with your favorite pair of dark-wash jeans or even slacks for an eclectic look.

Is short sleeve shirt smart casual?

You can express your casual style with a short-sleeve shirt but you should add a few fashionable accents to make your look complete. If you’re wearing a short-sleeve polo, pair it with your favorite pair of khakis or dress pants for a business casual look that is work-appropriate. If you want to wear a short-sleeve t-shirt, you can complement it with a blazer or roll the sleeves up slightly and add a brooch to the shirt to add your own personal flair.