What does smart casual mean? – nobody really knows!
At least that’s what Alex Bilmes the editor of Esquire magazine feels. He considers both a lightweight navy blazer with a business shirt, navy chinos, and loafers, and a Polo shirt with a light knit sweater and a cotton bomber jacket to both be examples of smart- casual outfits. The “smasual “look for men is impossible to define as it’s more than just that vague middle ground between a formal suit, and jeans and a sweatshirt. It is really a new dress code for men where you are free to express yourself without the traditional rules about what can be worn with what, when and where. It requires some thought and planning, and combinations should be carefully chosen to create a harmonic balance in order to achieve the desired effect- comfort with style.A smart but not overly formal jacket is essential, maybe with a subtle design, like a tweed, or texture like corduroy or a slightly unusual color. Combine your original jacket with some perfectly fitting jeans in a solid dark color which are blemish, stain and rip free. Straight but not tight legs with turn-ups are in, if you feel comfortable with that. A pair of classic Chino style casual pants are another option. Again they must fit well to look good. A classic Oxford shirt with a button-down collar, brilliant white and perfectly pressed is a great option as it looks good with or without a tie. Shirts that can be worn both tucked in or left out give you more room to play, and don’t be afraid to go for bold solid colors with contrasting cuffs, buttons or collar. Patterns should be subtle, refined and delicate.
T-shirts or polos must be impeccably clean, pressed, of a high-quality cotton and without words. If you need some extra warmth a fine knit sweater with a V-neck can be worn over a shirt or try an elegant waistcoat over a T, or perhaps a zip up cardigan. Shoes are perhaps the most important part of the whole outfit and should be casual but spotlessly clean and brilliantly polished. A rounded toe Chelsea boot in a dark color or some tan handstitched leather brogues are classy choices. For a more casual footwear invest in some loafers, these slip on shoes should be worn without socks and can be used with jeans, pants or even shorts! Accessories are also important.Place a carefully folded handkerchief in the breast pocket of your jacket for an aristocratic touch. Use a simple smart leather bag and a belt, maybe with a discreet deign or texture, but not “crafty,” that match your footwear A real watch, not a digital one, is essential. A stylish hat like a Fedora, a Panama or something unusual like a flat cap can enhance your unique style, but beware baseball caps and beanies should never feature in your smart-casual wardrobe.
Smart-casual is about feeling and being comfortable with what you are wearing. Try to introduce just one or at most two elements to achieve a combination which is sophisticated and makes you feel good. Have fun!
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