Dressing smart casual for work20. 09. 2019
The workplace is evolving. From flexi-hours to remote working and revolutionary office spaces, there are constant changes in the way we work. This includes how we dress while we’re there too. They’ve transformed drastically over the years to reflect the latest, and often more relaxed, ways of working.
While the new norm doesn’t go far as loungewear, it’s safe to say that in many industries, suits and ties are on the out —replaced by a new category of dress known as smart casual.
We’re exploring how to dress smart casual for work and looking at the different types of clothing that fall into that category – helping you to build a stylish outfit for the office.
What is smart casual?
One of the issues around the term smart casual is just how ambiguous it can be. Not too business-like, but definitely not too casual, the look has broad parameters, and can be applied to many different styles.
It’s a trend that’s become so popular that it has reshaped what it means to dress appropriately for work.
Smart casual takes the elements of a formal dress code and combines them with more relaxed pieces of clothing - think a blazer and t-shirt, matched with jeans and trainers. It can change in different contexts, but at its core is both informal and professional.
This style doesn’t mean fully casual, however. In fact, when done right, a smart casual look can feel just as professional in the work environment as a suit in tie.
Here are some of the signature pieces that, when combined, can create an outfit that’s perfect for the workplace.
Shoes are the one of the elements that can keep a smart casual outfit from becoming too relaxed. Dress shoes look both fantastic and professional. Derbies, Oxfords, loafers, monk straps and brogues are all stylish options that put the smart in smart casual.
Black leather shoes work well with almost anything - although tan is a great secondary option, depending on what you’re pairing them with. Both go great with a pair of dark, slim leg jeans, while loafers and brogues combine nicely with a light grey blazer.
Some would argue that a fresh pair of trainers fits into the smart casual dress code. It’s a judgement call, as some workplaces might consider this slightly unprofessional, especially if you’re attending a client meeting.
If in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a classic leather shoe. When it comes to an ambiguous category like smart casual, it’s always best to stay on the safe side.
Shirts are a great way of ensuring your look stays on the smart side of smart casual. Think of them as a style safety net, as a long sleeved shirt always looks professional. And, if you end up feeling too formal, you can quickly roll up the sleeves to exude a more relaxed vibe.
An essential shirt for any wardrobe has to be a cotton Oxford shirt. You can purchase these in an array of colours, but a classic white is a must have — and a great addition to any outfit. A long-sleeved shirt works well with almost anything; especially a pair of slim cut dark jeans or navy chinos.
An alternative is a short-sleeve shirt. You can go with a traditional white or navy — or switch things up with a print or stripe. For a smart casual look, add a blazer on top. It’s ideal for summer months; and with a pair of chino shorts, can still maintain the professionalism you need for the office, while also keeping you cool.
When it comes to office wear, it’s not often you think of t-shirts. Thanks to the rise of smart casual in the workplace, they’ve become a regular addition to a work environment.
A bit more thought needs to go into wearing them, if you’re not already comfortable with the smart casual trend. But with a few staple pieces in your wardrobe, and a bit of experimenting, you’ll be more than prepared to make a t-shirt part of your day-to-day wear while at work.
The best way to include one in a work outfit is to wear it underneath a dark linen blazer. The t-shirt and blazer combination is probably the most definitive of the casual smart looks and is the most ideal during the summertime.
Of course, a t-shirt and jeans is a classic look, but when it comes to the office, it’s best to pair one with trousers. Especially if you’re new to the style.
A classic polo shirt is a smarter alternative to a t-shirt and still has a versatile range of colours and prints to choose from. Unlike t-shirts, polo shirts are a relatively safe smart casual option, with a white or black one being an ideal choice for any work outfit – oozing timeless style.
If you feel confident in your workplace, then go for something a bit quirkier. There are some fun prints that for polo shirts that you can try out. The styles vary, but a print, whether it be spots or something a little more eccentric, work well with dark jeans or a pair of chinos.
Add accessories, like a black leather wallet or wristwatch, and you’ll be working the best of smart casual.
Embrace smart casual at work by shopping our relaxed range of short sleeved shirts and add a pair of stylish formal shoes to complete your look.