Deciphering wedding dress codes these days can be a difficult task. From today’s take on black tie dressing to new-age cocktail attire, determining what to wear tends to require a bit more thought than it used to.
And there’s perhaps no dress code that requires more deliberation (or prompts more questions) than ‘smart casual’. Although it sounds deceptively simple, it’s arguably trickier than its more dressed up counterparts, thanks to its ability to rapidly veer into the ‘too casual’ or ‘too formal’ territories.
So, in order to decode the ‘smart casual’ dress code for women today, we consulted wedding planner Nina Ma’Belle Wiener of Nina Ma’Belle weddings for all the dos, the dont’s and everything in between.
Keep reading for all the details on how to do ‘smart casual’ in style.
What should you wear to a wedding with a smart casual dress code?
It may offer more relaxed ensembles than black tie or cocktail, but it’s important not to get ‘too relaxed’.
“Although it presents a fair amount of freedom, if you get invited to a wedding where the dress code is ‘smart casual’, be sure to not get too dressed up,” said Nina.
“I would always recommend asking yourself questions like, ‘Where is the wedding being held?’, ‘Who will be attending?’ and ‘Is the wedding being held in the day or the evening?’.”
As a result, you will be able to make a few assumptions as to how the dress code will be interpreted, especially with the surrounding décor of the wedding venue, Nina explained.
“That being said, a great midi cut dress with a comfortable pair of statement flats or tailored pants with a sleek blazer and luxurious bag will tick all of the boxes. Just to be clear, if the outfit you are choosing ends up feeling more cocktail, then change the direction of your look,” she added.
Scroll on for some examples.
How should I co-ordinate my separates?
The smart casual dress code offers plenty of versatile options, especially when it comes to coordination. “Smart casual is all about separates. To nail the look, remember to keep your ensemble elegant and relaxed,” explained Nina.
“Instead of a knee-length dress, try opting for a stylish midi skirt or luxe tailored pants with an elegant silk top.”
When in doubt? Go for a blazer, Nina emphasised. “To me, the icing on the cake is always a smart, tailored blazer. Whether it be luxurious linen or Italian cotton, a well-tailored blazer will always perfect your outfit and smarten up any look,” she said.
Can you wear a short-suit to a smart casual wedding?
Not a fan of skirts? Luckily, the smart casual wedding lends itself to one of fashions’ favourite trends right now: the short-suit.
“The short-suit is the ultimate transitional outfit and will blend seamlessly between seasons. However, if you plan on wearing one to a wedding, you do need to bear in mind the other variables like location, venue and guests,” said Nina.
“If you were to venture into the short-suit zone, keep the shorts impeccably tailored and longer towards the knee. Ensure the fabric is luxurious and holds structure. Match it with sophisticated heels and the chunky chain-strap bag to bring out the ‘bold’ in your look.”
Below, a few examples.
What sort of shoes should you wear to a smart casual wedding?
“As for footwear, stick to metallic mules, glamorous wedges, fancy flats or statement block heels (think: Jacquemus),” said Nina.
“Avoid sneakers, thongs or anything too informal to weddings, unless stated otherwise.”
Below, a few wedding planner-approved examples.
Any on accessories?
“Think fine jewellery and a statement-making bag,” said Nina.
“The statement bag is not going anywhere, and with a pop or colour or sophisticated, bold hardware, this is a way to smarten up any outfit and let that attitude come through in your accessories.”
Any notes on makeup?
When it comes to maquillage, less is more, Nina noted.
“For makeup, think a pared-back, slick look with natural eye makeup,” she said.
What should you absolutely avoid wearing to a smart casual wedding?
Besides steering clear of white, Nina recommended avoiding looks that veered too formal or too relaxed.
“Do not wear a cocktail dress or a floor length black-tie gown (too overdressed) or a statement tracksuit or sneakers (too casual),” said Nina.
“Although the word ‘casual’ is used within the dress code, it does not mean to leave all of your decorum at the doorstep.”