The Definition of Smart Casual

Posted: 19th August 2019 in ,

What is Smart Casual? The Definition is Here

According to research, 90% of office workers now have a ‘smart casual’ dress code, and only 1 in 10 people wear a suit to work, as the classic ‘dress down Friday’ has been adopted across the rest of the week.

However, it seems that many of us don’t actually know what ‘smart casual’ means. According to Google, the phrase “what is smart casual” has more than 1,900 searches a month in the UK. It is clear that many of us are a little confused…

So, in order to gain some clarity around the subject, we decided to gather some insight from fashion experts around the UK, and using Google’s Natural Language processing tool, we have been able to analyse the comments to extract the most commonly used terms. 

Our analysis of the responses revealed the most common items which our experts associated with ‘smart casual’. We now have a definitive list of ’smart casual’ clothing items for both men and women, to help with the notoriously vague dress code.

Smart Casual for Women

According to our fashion experts, the top 10 ‘smart casual’ looks for women are:

  1. Mid-length dress 
  2. Fitted jeans 
  3. Tailored blazer 
  4. Ankle boots 
  5. Flat shoes 
  6. Plain coloured top 
  7. White trainers
  8. Midi skirt
  9. Jewellery 
  10. Lace designs

Personal stylist, Claire Jacklin, believes that smart casual is all about feeling comfortable and confident in what you are wearing: 

“I would say that the definition of ‘smart casual’ would be ’smart enough that you don’t feel ‘scruffy’ and relaxed enough not to feel stuffy!’ It’s a great way to let your personality shine through your choice of clothes, without having to conform to the uniformity of the smart/corporate look, which for some is quite suffocating.”

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Claire Jacklin (@clairejacklinstylist) wearing a twist on a smart-casual outfit.

For women, a mid-length dress is the perfect way to bring out your personality, and if you are wanting to tone it down, or you have a meeting for example, you can throw a tailored blazer on for that more professional look. 

Smart Casual Looks for Men

Our research found the top 10 smart casual looks for men are:

  1. Dark jeans 
  2. Plain shirt 
  3. Tailored jacket 
  4. Polished shoes 
  5. Non-patterned trousers 
  6. Suede Loafers 
  7. Pressed chinos 
  8. White trainers 
  9. Suede boots 
  10. Plain t-shirts 

Scott McGlynn, a lifestyle influencer, said:

“Smart casual is always evolving and men can now get away with wearing ‘floral and bright coloured shirts’ with smart trousers and trainers.”

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Scott McGlynn (@scottmcglynnofficial) wearing his interpretation of a smart casual outfit.

However, if you are not as confident with colour, a light blue or baby pink shirt is a great way to add a pop of pastel to your look, and it can be a good place to start experimenting with more colour, whilst still remaining professional.

An overall theme to the findings from our research, is a ‘tailored’ look. Smart, dark trousers and chinos were popular, as well as tailored jackets and blazers. However, it is all about your day-to-day job. If you are sitting at your desk, you might want to wear trainers for comfort, but if you’re in a more corporate setting with more meetings, polished shoes would be much more appropriate and professional. Smart casual is very fluid, but there are definitely a few staple items we can make the most of and use to our advantage.

Why not try out smart casual for yourself, by adding a sleek leather jacket to your outfit.

A big thank you to all of our contributors:

Salva Jovells: 

Susannah Davda:

Roberta Lee:

Lisa Talbot:

Gabrielle Teare:

Claire Butler:

Lizzie Parsons:

Anna Mewes:

Numba Pinkerton:

Sarah Gilfillan:

Claire Jacklin:

Hayley Smith:

Alicia Penfield:

Beth Price:

Dawn Pollard:

Katelyn Milley:

Tiffany Wendel:

Rebecca Davies:

Claire Lopez:

Lindsay Punch:

Rebecca Robins:

Isabel Kelly:

Milda Chellingsworth:

Scott McGlynn:

Lisa Newport:

John Pugh:

Keren Beaumont:

Imogen Hibberd:

John Reid:

Big Fashion Talk:

Lucy Angele: