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The Real Deal on Smart Casual Outfits for Men and Women

Smart casual is almost always thrown around in weddings, conventions, dinner parties, and other not-so-formal events. The problem is, smart casual wear is such an ambiguous style that both men and women tend to get confused about it. So, how do experts and fashion blogs define smart casual? The following article should shed some light on what smart casual is and know exactly how to dress smart casual appropriately.

What is Smart Casual?

Smart casual is a dress code that combines well-fitting, polished business wear with elements of casual attire— think blouses, polo shirts, button-downs, dress pants, pencil skirts, dark-wash jeans, and practical footwear. It actually lies between dressy casual and business casual. As a general rule, mixing pieces of slightly different formality levels is an excellent way of achieving a smart casual look. 

Smart Casual Attire for Women

For women, smart casual attire can be a little tricky since there are just so many options you can use. Since smart casual is basically a hybrid dress code, it’s easy to get confused about what fits in the smart-casual spectrum. To give you an idea, here are some smart casual outfit options for women:

  • Tops – Blouses made of fabrics with interesting details, collared shirts, or button-ups with short sleeves or long sleeves are all excellent choices for a smart casual outfit. Wearing a blazer over your top of choice is great to add more dressiness. Just remember to use colour sparingly to avoid creating a look that’s too casual.
  • Bottoms – Wearing pants like chinos, silk pants, or dress pants would work well in a smart-casual ensemble. You can also go for dark-wash denim jeans, but they should be tailored and distress-free.
  • Shoes – For footwear, you should go for Oxfords, ballet flats, and loafers. Alternatives could be ankle boots, wedges, and low-to-mid heel types. Running shoes or sneakers are a big no-no here as they are too casual.

Smart Casual Attire for Men

For men, smart casual pieces are relatively easy to pick as most of the pieces work well in formal, business casual, or just pure casual looks. This can either be an advantage or a cause for further confusion. Nevertheless, you won’t go wrong with these pieces:

  • Tops – Button-down shirts, short-sleeved or long-sleeved, are both great choices if you’re going to a smart-casual only event. Again, avoid bright colours as they may come off as too casual. You can add a blazer or sport coat over a shirt for extra dressiness, but avoid wearing ties altogether.
  • Bottoms – Dress pants and chinos work well here as well as slacks. If you have none of those, then a well-tailored, dark-wash pair of jeans without visible signs of distress could also work.
  • Shoes – Loafers and Oxfords are great smart casual shoe options. If you want a dressier look, then you can always wear leather shoes. Same with women, running shoes and sneakers will not work at all here.


There’s a fine line that separates casual and business attire for a smart casual one. This simple guide should help you make sense of what is considered appropriate for a smart casual event like a wedding or a lunch meeting with a former colleague.

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Jennifer Atkinson
Jennifer Atkinson is a Growth Hacker at AppDupe - which is a pioneer in on-demand app development and an one-stop solution for all your digital business needs. She is also a blogger and a growth hacker who loves to find new business ideas and help startup entrepreneurs with business consultation.
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