ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

20 Ways To Dress ‘Smart Casual’

20 Ways To Dress ‘Smart Casual’

20 Ways To Dress ‘Smart Casual’
Danielle de Wolfe
11 September 2015

You’ve got the job offer/invitation and everything looks great until your eyes fall upon man’s most dreaded dress code; smart casual (or smasual, if you want everyone to hate you). Every item becomes an opportunity to blow it so here are our tips to nailing the two in one look.

1. Wear a Slim Fit Shirt

A slim cut shirt is both flattering and smart. Make sure it’s crisp and the sleeves fit properly to save crumpling awkwardly should you choose to wear a jacket. 

2. Understated Collars

Don’t try and make a statement with your collar, a simple Oxford collar sits perfectly between smart and casual and will go well with a slim tie or without.

3. Boots Instead Of Shoes

Ditch the dress shoes to avoid looking like a uni rugby lad on tour. A pair of leather Chelsea boots will go well with almost everything, taking you from day to night. 

4. Or Brogues

Alternatively, a pair of distressed or softer brogues with a thicker sole will do just as well. 

5. Invest in A Textured Blazer

A decent textured blazer, such as wool, is a smart investment in your wardrobe, easily dressed up or down. Opt for a grey or blue to keep up with this seasons trend and match almost everything else.

6. Don’t Roll Up Your Sleeves

In the office, that is. Even if you don’t choose to wear a tie, a well-fitted, well-cuffed shirt will look infinitely smarter than if you roll up your sleeves. Besides which, you want to avoid the boss-trying-to-show-he’s-laid-back look. 

7. Get a Document Holder

Yes backpacks are way more comfortable and harder to leave places, but a leather document holder will pull your look together effortlessly and take you from school boy to boardroom baller.

8. Match Your Shoes To Your Belt

It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised the difference it makes to you ensemble upgrading from casual to smart casual. At least match the colours. 

9. Turn Up Your Trousers

Whatever trousers you’re wearing, flashing your ankles like a hussy is in right now. As we’re coming into Autumn, pair with bright (and clean) socks and roll your trousers up to show off those ankle poppers.

10. Wear an Analogue Watch

Whether you set your Apple Watch to an analogue face or choose a classic watch, it will make your outfit look generally smarter. 

11. Invest In A Trench Coat

Whether you wear this over just a shirt or over your blazer as the temperature drops, a trench coat is a timeless piece that will carry you through the seasons. Make sure it’s a tailored one that cinches in at the waste and is no longer than your knees to avoid that paper bag look. 

12. Go for Darker Denim Hues

If you opt for jeans, avoid rips and any distressed effects and opt for indigo or dark blue.

13. Choose Slim Cut Jeans

Sit somewhere in between straight and skinny with a slim cut that flatters your shape. Raw denim is a good choice as it holds it’s shape for longer and creases less easily. 

14. Buy Cords if you aren’t Sure About Denim

If your office leans towards the smart end of smart casual, go for cords instead of denim. 

15. Brave Loose Fit Trousers

Skinny isn’t the only way anymore. Wide leg trousers have been struuted down the catwalks this season and a well-tailored pair will make you look like your on top of the trends as well as nail the smart casual look.

16. A Knitted Tie

A slim-fit, textured knitted tie is the perfect neck piece to marry both smart and casual.

17. Go For Subtle Snazz

We’re all for expressing yourself, whether it’s with a bold pocket square or coloured buttons, but keeping it subtle will keep you safe from missing the mark on the dress code.


18. Opt For A Crease Free And Classic T-shirt

If Fridays are more casual than the smart casual days of the rest of the week, it’s fine to team your look with a t-shirt, providing you avoid V-necks and the spray on look. Keep it clean with a crew neck. 

19. Keep It Simple

Keep your colours basic and fresh and your threads will surpass the dress code effortlessly. 

20. Make Sure Everything Fits

As a general point, smart casual works best when everything fits properly, which is hardly surprising. Make sure your clothes sit at your shoulders properly, that your sleeves are the right length and your trousers don’t hang in the wrong places.