What is Smart Casual Dress Code?

Australian Fairfax Media’s fashion guru clarifies a woman’s smart casual attire. The guru discourages women from wearing tights, tight tops, jeans with singlet tops unless they are worn under another top or shirt, miniskirts, ripped apparel, suggestive boots and flip-flops.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Steven and Chris explain smart casual is an “easy and comfortable way to dress.” Jeans, depending on the workplace’s context and environment, are not recommended. For men’s attire, a pair of khakis or casual pants with a collared or polo shirt and a blazer is illustrated. For women’s attire, the stylists note the diversity of clothing options and recommend: (a) keeping the clothing pieces easy; (b) the fabrics not too dressy; and (c) the accessories more casual.

British national newspaper The Guardian attempts clarifying smart casual from a recruitment perspective by questioning various recruitment consultants.  They responded: (a) stand out but blend in by understanding the workplace’s environment; (b) achieve a business-professional look by clarifying the attire in advance because “it’s easier to be overdressed than underdressed”; (c) wear a smart coat if avoiding a suit to give the impression of a “good entrance because it has an air of formality: e.g., a well-cut trench, worn with open shirt and neat slacks”; (d) wear accessories to “show creativity and attention to detail”, but keep them to a minimum; (e) smart, plain and straight jeans are acceptable; and (f) shoes should be clean and un-scruffy.

Global men’s fashion magazine GQ in the United Kingdom attempts defining smart casual for a job interview. Wearing denim, chinos, a blazer and white shirt to make an impression is suggested. Carrying a necktie is advisable; the author comments, “it is far more embarrassing to be under-dressed than over”.

Global women’s magazine Cosmopolitan in South Africa interprets smart casual as the way most South African women dress for work. In addition to work, the outfit is also interchangeable for use at large or small daytime parties, and wearing a dress shirt with elegant accessories is suggested.

Pakistani fashion magazine Fashion Central defines a woman’s smart casual look from an employment perspective. Understanding the workplace’s environment and culture is emphasized, and checking the company’s dress code guideline is highly recommended. Fashion Central outlines smart casual with clothes unstained and wrinkle-free with non-loud and non-bright colors that reflect the woman’s age.

Too fancy or too casual dresses are inadvisable as well as the use of extreme make-up, such as using dark, glossy or chalky shades, or applying too much eye shadow. Fashion Central reports black or brown heels are preferred by women and advise to correctly select appropriate shoes for a workplace’s environment.