Complete guide to smart casual dress code and attire in 2022

Stylish casual outfit for women, men and genderless

In this article, I will explain the smart casual dress code step by step in simple terms.

I will define smart casual and explain what it means, what is considered a smart casual dress code, and where you can wear smart casual for maximum stylistic effect.

The Oxford dictionary defines the “smart casual” look as “a neat, conventional, but relatively informal style worn to conform to a particular event which necessitates a dress code”.

Simply put, the smart casual dress code ranges between anything smarter than a tracksuit but less formal than a suit.

A popular dress code, smart casual is great for all genders, sizes and body types, and even kids.

And depending on who wears it and for what occasion, the smart casual dress code can be “formal smart casual” and “informal smart casual”.

It’s time to detail the smart casual dress code with some representative examples and photos.


Smart Casual Dress Code Guide

What is a smart casual dress code?

When to Wear Smart Casual

Smart casual dress code vs casual dress code

Business Casual vs. Smart Casual

Smart Casual Dress Code FAQ

What is a smart casual dress code?

Smart casual is a dress code (dress style) that combines “smart clothes” such as business clothes with “casual clothes” such as informal clothes and even street clothes.

On the spectrum of formality, smart casual sits between business casual (dress pants and pencil skirts) and dressy casual (jeans and blouses).

The easiest way to create a casual and elegant look is to match clothes with different levels of formality.

What is the smart casual dress code
What is the smart casual dress code –

Some of the most appropriate clothes for a casual dress code are coats, button down shirts, pencil skirts, vibrant sweaters, polo shirts, dress pants, chinos, plain t-shirts, stonewashed jeans, and practical shoes. .

Overall, the smart casual dress code calls for a balance between a polished office look and informal attire to create a casual style that looks smart and comfortable.

When to Wear Smart Casual

By imparting an exquisite balance between casual and formal looks, the smart-casual dress code is suitable for all social occasions, whether professional or not.

As explained above, the smart casual dress code can be: “formal smart casual” and “informal smart casual”.

Formal Smart Casual Vs Informal Smart Casual
From left to right: Formal Smart Casual Vs. Informal Smart Casual –

In the case of a professional or work-related event, you want to wear a dress code in a smart casual format.

These events are business conferences, business meetings, and after-work related functions such as a dinner office meeting.

For a more relaxed event, such as meeting friends for dinner or going to a friend’s birthday party, you can dress informally and casually.

Elegant casual dress for dinner

Elegant casual dress for dinner
Chic and casual outfit for dinner –

The smart casual dress code is very versatile and one of the most suitable for dinner parties.

Men should opt for dark tones and avoid sneakers at all costs.

Ideally, combine a pair of polished shoes with dark pants and a casual top.

The best women’s smart casual outfit should feature a mix of classic and modern styles such as high heels and a dress with a plain t-shirt and a casual top.

Elegant casual outfit for wedding

Elegant casual outfit for wedding
Elegant casual outfit for the wedding –

Friends’ weddings are another great opportunity to wear informal, casual ensembles.

Although large in nature, these events tend to have a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

So, while maintaining a stylistic respect for the type of event and your friends, feel free to showcase your unique style,

Above all, you don’t want to look overdressed or underdressed but chic and comfortable.

Smart and casual office attire

Smart and casual office attire

Remember that the smart casual dress code is the most popular dress style among business and office people.

However, unlike the classic business dress code, smart casual is more versatile and casual.

Although you should maintain the professional look, this is your chance to give your look a twist.

Consider replacing the boring office suit and tie ensemble with chinos, a rolled-up sleeve shirt, a casual blazer and an open jacket thrown over your shoulders for a look suitable for all genders and ages.

Smart casual outfit for one day events

Smart casual outfit for one day events
Smart casual outfit for one day events –

Unlike formal occasions such as weddings, dinner parties, or black-tie events, daytime events offer more sartorial flexibility.

Whether you’re heading for a casual brunch with a friend or an afternoon tea, the smart-casual dress code changes during the day to the informal, everyday look with colorful tones and sporty outfits.

So denim jackets, chic tops, midi skirts, sneakers and lots of accessories work wonders.

Now let’s see how the smart dress code compares to the business casual dress code.

Smart Casual Vs. Casual Dress Code

Compared to the smart casual dress code, the casual style is simple and casual streetwear oriented.

The casual dress code is casual to casual and includes everything from tracksuits to baggy jeans and hoodies, while smart casual has an added stylistic touch.

Casual vs smart casual dress code
From left to right: Dress code casual vs smart casual –

Another distinction is that casual chic leads to a more refined look, replacing printed t-shirts with collared polo shirts and hip-hop-style baggy jeans with chinos or dark wash denim.

That said, a casual outfit can be a great starting point for finding the perfect smart-casual outfit.

Start with clothes you already have in your closet and gradually add higher-end clothes to enhance the overall look of the outfit and your unique personal style.

Smart Casual Vs. Casual Wear

Given its laid-back yet refined aesthetic, casual chic is often confused with business casual dress code, and for good reason.

For example, both dress codes use most of the same clothes, with few clothing choices and style matching rules.

Casual and smart dress code
From left to right: Business Casual vs. Smart Casual Dress Code –

The business casual dress code calls for a more conservative dress style, while the smart casual style is a bit more casual and edgy.

In line with current fashion trends, a typical casual evening wear would consist of an unstructured blazer with a white shirt, black slacks and a pair of quality casual shoes to reinforce a classic style.

On the other hand, a casual style requires simple and casual clothes such as nice T-shirts in bright colors and casual shoes.

Smart Casual Dress Code FAQ

Can I wear jeans for a casual chic look?

Jeans are a must in the chic and casual dress code.

The preferred style of jeans for a smart casual outfit is the slim fit in darker wash tones, best paired with a heel for women or smart shoes for men.

What is allowed in smart casual?

Starting with the shoes, the smart casual dress code calls for replacing white sneakers with dress shoes such as dark leather loafers or oxfords.

On top, replace your printed t-shirt and hoodies with a dress shirt, such as a short-sleeved (or long-sleeved) collared shirt or button-down shirt.

At the bottom, replace baggy jeans with tailored chinos, dress pants and a leather belt in the same color as the pants.

What is the difference between casual and smart casual?

There are stylistic differences dictated by the event you are dressing for.

For example, casual clothes are worn on informal occasions while smart casual clothes can be worn on both informal and formal events.

Are jeans and a top smart and casual?

When styled accordingly, jeans are a staple of the smart-casual dress code.

A great smart casual look is to mix a pair of dark wash jeans with a tailored blouse and a pair of smart shoes.

Avoid ripped or acid wash jeans at all costs; these are not suitable for formal environments such as a job interview.

Can I wear sneakers for a casual chic look?

Men should avoid sneakers when dressing smart and casual and opt for casual footwear such as Oxford shoes.

However, women have more flexibility with the smart-casual dress code and can mix sneakers and tennis shoes with casual skirts and tops.


Regardless of your gender, whether female, male, or genderless, the smart-casual dress code rules apply equally.

Always combine well-fitting and refined work clothes like shirts, button-ups, dress pants and office shoes with casual clothes like blouses, dark wash jeans, plain t-shirts and practical shoes.

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