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by Jennifer Smith August 31, 2021 8 min read

Don't know whether to wear a casual outfit or something more formal and polished?

We feel you!

Dressing for success is not easy; you have to pick a style that is both comfortable and fashionable at the same time. You have to strike the perfect balance with your outfit so it doesn’t make you look either under or overdressed on any occasion.

To make fashion more accessible for you, we've created this ultimate guide to a smart casual dress code for men; it includes all the styles which a man should be aware of when “dressing up” for the day. From the blue jeans that will go with any shirt to a polo shirt or leather jacket, it's all here!

What Is The Smart Casual Dress Code for Men?

The smart casual dress code occupies the space between business attire and lazy stay-at-home wear in men's fashion. As per most style and fashion experts, this dress code for men is defined as formal clothing with a hint of casualness. The goal here is to blend high-end clothing with casual outer wear such as comfortable shoes paired with a formal dress shirt.

There are, however, many variations on the smart casual dress code for men these days. You can easily dress up or down an outfit with additions like a boldly patterned shirt or tie. The key is to mix and match items that are formal with more interesting and casual elements than your ordinary work attire, all the while not going too much into the formal wear territory.

While both formal wear or shabby-looking styles are not the right choice for many men, a smart casual dress code enables you to look polished and sharp without looking overdone. Even though this fashion code is formal enough to make you feel dressed up, it is also relaxed enough to wear at home. You can be sitting in your house watching a movie on the weekend or showing up to a meeting at work, the smart casual dress code never makes you look out of place.    

What Is The Smart Casual Dress Code for Men?

What Should You Wear When The Dress Code Is Smart Casual?

You would think that the smart casual dress code requires buying expensive clothes. And this may make you want to retreat to the easy-going outfit consisting of only jeans, a T-shirt, and a pair of sneakers.

But hold on, there’s more to it.

While you can buy designer items if you wish, it is by no means compulsory. Because of the versatility of casual dressing, you can easily reuse many items present in your wardrobe.

It takes some practice to get the smart casual dress code right at first. But the key to looking sharp and casual is to dress in tailored, elegant clothing in addition to basic casual clothes.

There are a number of items that make up the neat casual dress code, such as blazers, chinos, jeans, leather or denim jackets, formal button-up shirts, sneakers, and even knitwear. In short, there's so much more to discover than just sticking to a basic pantsuit if you're willing to experiment.

Smart Casual Wardrobe Essentials

Are you ready to try smart casual clothing?

Here are a few basic pieces you will need in your wardrobe to get the dress code down to a tee.

1.   Formal and Informal Shirts

Formal and Informal Shirts

The first step to building your neat and relaxed wardrobe is getting some fitted, full-sleeved shirts. Start out with a basic white shirt and then add more subtle colors to your collection. For a more casual look, you can roll up the sleeves.

Linen shirts are your best bet for the summer months when you have to keep things cool and comfortable. Half-tuck the hem into pants at the front for an effortlessly smart look.

Polo shirts may come off as dressy to some but you can make them look more casual to suit the dress code. You can incorporate them into your attire by matching them with a pair of casual denim jeans. Remember to only button the third button and not all the way to the top as that could look a bit too formal.

2.   Pants, Jeans and Chinos

Pants, Jeans and Chinos

Believe it or not, you can make either one of these pant styles look elegant and formal if you want to. With men's smart casual wear, there is a great deal of freedom to experiment with different clothing items. As a result, you may wear trousers, jeans, or chinos and still look as stylish as ever.

When making your choice, just make sure that your pants match your outfit as a whole. The main thing about smarter casual pants is that the pants must be the right fit for your body. That way you will not be tempted to wear your trousers rolled up. Edges should be clean and neat and the hemline of the bottom of your pants should stop just above your shoes. Furthermore, look for pants that have straight edges and a flat taper for a cleaner classic look.

3.   The Shirt Jacket

The Shirt Jacket

Shirt jackets have the style and comfort of a regular shirt combined with the durability of a jacket. They are as durable as a proper leather jacket while also being as light as a regular shirt. This modern apparel item has certainly pushed men's style into more fashionable territory while being functional at the same time. A leather jacket such as this Exquisite Cedar men's leather jacket will add flair to your wardrobe while also providing incredible comfort.

Although the shirt-jacket isn't as simple or easy to wear as a T-shirt and jeans, it has gained favor with men who possess a more sophisticated sense of style. You can wear your shirt jacket open over a plain tee or zip it all the way up, either way, you are sure to look dapper.

4.   Blazers


A great outfit would never be complete without an excellent outerwear clothing item – it’s vital that your final piece complements the rest of your outfit. That is why blazers have become an attractive outerwear choice when it comes to dressing smartly. Blazers, unlike jackets, can be worn with a variety of clothing items and give a polished look without looking stiff. They are neither formal nor informal.

Whether you are wearing a smart-casual outfit or a business outfit, a wool blazer will keep you looking polished without being too uptight. In case you're looking for something to wear to work daily, a leather blazer will help make you look a little more laid-back but still professional. While it's not as formal as a suit, it's still less casual than the other jacket style out there. To complete this look, top your business outfit with a handsome leather blazer.

5.   Leather Jackets

Leather Jackets

It's hard to beat the look of a well-loved leather jacket worn over a T-shirt and jeans for a casual weekend look. With the right adjustments, however, you can dress it up as smart casual wear as well.

From Tom Cruise to Hugh Jackman, a good leather jacket is a necessity in every fashion-forward man's closet. You can style it up in multiple ways since it has the perfect balance between contemporary and classic. With just a leather jacket, you can transform your street style into a smart casual dress code.

·        Classic Leather Jacket: To style a classic leather jacket for smart casual wear, adopt a less is more mindset. Start out with a good quality white T-shirt and go for dark wash jeans as the bottoms.

·        Bomber Jackets: In more formal settings such as office wear, a Bomber Jacket is a great choice. But don't overdo the look with bold patterns or pockets, as it will surely end up looking too informal. Instead, go for a basic Black Bomber Jacket with a white formal shirt and dress pants. You can also add a black tie on top to finish off the look.

·        Brown Leather Jacket: Adding leather jackets to items like sweaters can be great for layering during harsh winters. Put on a dark brown leather jacket over a beige or brown sweater for a classy winter look. If you want to go for a more formal look, team this combination with a button-up shirt, black dress pants, and a tie.

6.   Shoes


Choosing the right shoes for your outfit can greatly influence the overall look, so make sure you pick well. A classic pair of leather shoes will make you look much more dressed up than casual Adidas sneakers.

You can wear a variety of shoes with your smart and casual attire. Comfortable but stylish shoes like Oxfords, moccasins, or brogues can add life to any old casual or formal outfit. If you want to dress it up, try a loafer, or for something more casual, try a shoe that lets your feet breathe. However, as a smart casual dress code recommendation, we advise against wearing overtly athletic shoes and sneakers.

7.   Accessories


It’s no secret that adding unique accessories to your outfit can make it more appealing while adding a boost of personality to your overall look. As a general rule, you should select accessories and accents that complement your sense of style without being either too formal or too casual.

Depending on how you choose to accessorize, you can both mirror your style or try something that goes in a completely different direction. So, while a trusty leather belt is a must, everything else is up to your discretion. Even the simplest of accessories and additions can add more depth to an outfit, such as a watch, ring, pair of designer sunglasses, or a hat. However, big and clunky accessories are a big no-no.

Do’s and Don’ts of Smart Casual Dress Code

Dressing into a particular style always involves certain do’s and don’ts to avoid making embarrassing fashion mistakes. For the smart casual dress code for men, here are some useful tips on what works and what doesn’t.

·        Do Wear Clean Clothes  No matter what kind of outfit you wear, crisp and wrinkle-free clothing will always make you look like a winner. Also, never compromise on quality. It’s best to wear high-quality fabrics so they also make you look your best.

·        Don’t Go For Shorts  Broad shorts, cargo shorts, or ones with too many pockets are never a good look for the smart casual style.

·        Do Layer Your Look  Depending on the weather outside, try to layer different clothing pieces together to create a cohesive look.

·        Don’t Pick Ripped Jeans  The smart casual clothing style is about finding the balance between formal and informal clothing. However, rugged ripped jeans are a bit too casual for this dress code.

·        Do Wear Chinos, Denim, And Khakis  On the flipside to ripped and distressed jeans, these comfortable and trendy pants are a must-have for the smart casual dress code.

Khaki pants and lighter-weight chinos are great options to consider. Fashionable and functional, they are a must-have for any modern man who wants some extra style in his wardrobe.

·        Don’t Choose Flashy Colors  This dress code is all about working with neutral colors and patterns that don’t scream for attention. As a rule of thumb, avoid bright and vibrant colors when picking your outfit.

·        Do Wear Jackets  A good jacket can add a dash of style and comfort to any boring formal outfit, no matter what it is a sports jacket, a trucker jacket, or a decent black leather jacket.

Do’s and Don’ts of Smart Casual Dress Code

Final Words

The smart casual dress code goes hand in hand with the modern man's desire for a stylish wardrobe as well as an updated wardrobe. It's a style that is easy to carry and that you can alter to suit your personal taste in clothing. The key points of a smart casual dress code are that it’s effortless and versatile, and is meant to be worn frequently; you leave behind the days where you had to buy three brand new outfits anytime you ran out of clothes.

With smart-casual clothing, you don't need to be afraid to make a statement. Thanks to its variety of styling options, the dress code lets you pick and choose pieces within your budget. So, feel free to express yourself however you wish, while giving off a sophisticated and relaxed vibe.

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