Smart casual is one of the hardest dress codes for women. Not quite cocktail and not exactly casual, a smart casual dress code can require a little thought. Picking out the perfect outfit won’t be hard — you likely already own all the elements required — but it can be daunting.
The first thing to consider with a smart casual dress code is the type of event. Is it during the day? Is it for work? Once you’ve sorted out the feel of the event then you can decide what sort of clothes best work. For something outside of work, a more casual dress will work, whereas a professional event is probably best supplemented with a blazer.
We’ve rounded up the do’s and don’ts of choosing the perfect smart casual dress code outfit below — because getting dressed shouldn’t have to be painful!
Smart casual outfits are all about finding the perfect balance between relaxed and still professional. Opt for smooth materials like silk and viscose and steer clear of off-duty or too-casual types of cotton or denim.
Add in a blazer. When in doubt, just add a smart blazer to dress up the outfit. I’ll usually do the trick!
Shoes don’t have to be heels, but steer clear of sneakers or anything dirty. The aim is to look professional without being too overdressed.
Don’t wear too many prints. Unless you’re going to a creative event, a smart casual dress code usually means muted neutrals. Blacks, whites, creams and beiges are always a safe bet.
Don’t just wear business clothes. Smart casual doesn’t always mean a pencil skirt and white shirt. If attending a wedding or other non-work event, opt for a polished knee-length dress or chic pair of trousers — both of which can be just as dressed up as a blazer in the right context.
What do I wear to a smart casual wedding?
Smart casual at weddings is one of the most popular dress codes. Although it offers a fair amount of freedom, be sure not to get too dressed up — it’s not quite cocktail. But also don’t go too casual. Depending on the time of day, a failsafe outfit is a knee length to midi cut dress, paired with a favourite pair of shoes and a dressy bag.
What do I wear for a smart casual dress code in summer?
Summer is easiest for smart casual, as a polished dress can often suffice. For something different, go for a collared shirt paired with a sleek slip skirt and a pair of chic sandals.
What do I wear for a smart casual dress code in winter?
In winter, smart casual can mean anything from a warm dress with coat to a pair of trousers and a shirt. Take cues from the invite and go with your gut. If you want to wear jeans, make sure they are black and not ripped — this will cheapen the look. Plus, a classic blazer or coat will instantly dress up a more casual outfit.
I still need more inspiration!
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite celebrities wearing various forms of the smart casual dress code below.