No Products in the Cart
So you go online to search for smart casual style guides that variously counsel everything from shorts, which don’t strike us as especially smart, to Ascot ties, which don’t come over as particularly casual. And as the latter indicates, many of these guides feel like they were set in stone shortly after the ten commandments. Whatever smart casual means, it’s likely to be something different today than it was in the starch-collared 19th century.
Smartness is more a matter of the appearance of your clothes rather than their style. Shoes polished, trousers pressed, and tie properly tied are necessary factors in a smart appearance. The operative words here aren’t ‘shoes’, ‘trousers’ or ‘tie’ (we’re talking about smart casual, after all), but ‘polished’, ‘pressed’ and ‘properly’. A pristine T-shirt, indigo jeans and box-fresh trainers can look dressier than a wrinkled shirt, stained trousers and scuffed shoes.
As we’ve established, smart casual is nigh-on impossible to define. So a more helpful and practical approach is to start with a casual outfit and then change one – or better, two – pieces for smarter alternatives. For example, take a bomber jacket, T-shirt, jeans and trainers. All very casual, right? Now swap in any one of blazer, shirt, trousers or chinos and shoes. You should be verging on smart casual territory. Swap in two and you should be bang on target. Swap in three and, depending on the circumstances, you might even be too smart. It’s a fine line.
You don’t even have to change pieces to adjust the casualness of an outfit. Darker colours skew more formal, so smartening up can be as simple as turning down the lights. For example, take an olive green bomber jacket, white T-shirt, stonewashed jeans and white trainers. Now swap the olive bomber for a navy one, and the stonewashed jeans for indigo. Suddenly it feels dressier. Even more so if you swap the white T-shirt for, say, mid-grey or charcoal, and the trainers for navy or black. The constituent styles are exactly the same, but the overall effect is very different. And the reverse is true: lightening up is a dimmer switch for smartness.
Another (major) factor that affects the relative smartness or casualness of a piece is texture. If you think about the most formal items in menswear – worsted wool business suits, say, or barathea dinner jackets – they’re almost invariably smooth and shiny.