The Smart Casual Conundrum

By Alex Noble Tuesday 12th Dec, 2017

God, this is a toughie.

For us chaps, receiving an invitation to a birthday celebration, launch party, New Years Do etc. which contains the words smart casual, usually scares the living daylights out of us.

There’s also the unsavoury beast of ‘business casual’ to tackle. Those employers trying to trip you up by ensuring you arrive at work extremely over or underdressed; either one you’re the laughing stock of the office.

All in all, these terms are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard…

What the bloody hell does one wear? Most chaps tend to become fence sitters and seek that ‘happy medium’ but let me tell you there’s no one way around it. Since very few actually know the definition of smart casual, why not use it as an opportunity; a blank canvas, if you will, and showcase your own personal style.

So, a few pieces of advice:

As Mr. Porter so intelligently state (and their words should often be taken very seriously) smart casual is…

Pretty much anything smarter than a tracksuit


Less formal than a suit

The simplified (Joe Bloggs) answer: a pair of indigo jeans ( no rips, please no rips), brown shoes of some description, an oxford shirt and a well-fitted blazer. Add a neutral cashmere scarf and refined overcoat during the winter months.

It’s a good look on just about everyone. So how about we go for great..?

Invitation-Only Function

As I previously said, this is when chaps tend to soil their briefs a little – and well, we can’t be having that for a whole number of reasons – but just try to remember that everyone else is in the same boat.

I’d always say you’d rather be overdressed than underdressed, mainly due to the fact that you can always remove elements from your look to cool it off.

Now, we’re getting into winter so I’d say one great way of donning some of your smarter attire in a chilled manner is to indulge in some creative layering. A nice herringbone double ensemble mixed with some denim and a silk scarf would do just the trick. Scarf’s too much? Take it off. Another great way of mixing S&C is to split your bottom and top half. Embrace some sartorial style on top whilst keeping it relaxed below the belt.

Business Casual (interviews)

First impressions are everything. Fact.

From a beaming, welcoming smile to a firm handshake (always looking the other person in the eye) – people will judge; people always judge.

Your workplace is no different when it comes to garment judgement – even the tech guy in the corner with the chinos and Asics trainers will secretly have an opinion.

A smart casual work outfit is seen as appropriate in most office environments (unless of course you’re required to wear a suit) so why not try the below? Use a cardigan to add a more chilled element to a look, or perhaps link a shirt and tie with casual chinos and brogues. Justin Timberlake smashes BC when he takes on the role of GQ’s Art Director in Friends with Benefits…Here’s some other ideas below.

(Dress down Fridays)

If you do work within a corporate environment and they do casual Fridays, this is your moment to stand out…so please don’t play the chameleon card and go for the obvious. Go smart casual with an edge and portray your personality through your look; who knows it may just get you noticed by your boss. If it’s a toss-up between the left and right image; I’d go right ever time…

Date Night

Once again: impressions count for a lot in this scenario. I’d say in this situation, flirt with the smarter end of the spectrum (but don’t forget to flirt with your date) if you’re off for drinks, but take a more casual approach if it’s coffee and a dog walk; that should be self-explanatory.  (If you’re seeking advice on what to do for dates, head elsewhere).

Again, as we approach the winter months, this can allow you to experiment a little. One investment I couldn’t recommend enough would be a roll neck, whether it’s cable knit or cashmere, you’ll get your usage out of it.


‘Tis the season to be jolly, so here’s a couple of tips and trends that may just mean your outfits are a cause for smiling for the remainder of the Winter.


One of the great things about the cold weather is the sheer mass of clothes you can afford to wear…please take no notice of the men who continue to walk around in jeans and a t-shirt when it’s minus 2 degrees, seeing it as manly. You just look like a D**k.

Anyway, instead of simply wrapping yourself up in a humungous duvet coat, why not layer some of your best pieces and create a textured outfit that keeps you warm and shows off your style. Also, we all know how Christmas parties can turn and if you nail it, your outfit may just scream unwrap me.

Shearling jacket

If there’s one purchase you make this Winter, invest in a Shearling Jacket. They’re a timeless classic that enjoyed a revamp when Tom Hardy rocked a beauty playing Bane. Shearlings are a smart casual wonder; see below for some inspo…

So, hopefully the next time you wake up on a Friday or receive a party invitation with a smart casual dress code, your heart skips a beat for the right reason; said reason being it’s a fantastic opportunity to express your own personal style.

Just remember it’s anything smarter than a tracksuit but not as formal as a suit.