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Mastering the Art of Smart-Casual Dressing: Men's Edition

Once upon a time, getting dressed was easy. A suit and tie would take you virtually anywhere. The modern era has ushered in a proliferation of dress codes for every event, from work to weddings. Whilst you are free to take phone calls and to do your Christmas shopping in shorts and slippers, in-person meetings require a touch more care. The terms ‘smart’ and ‘casual’ seem to be at odds with one another, and smart-casual remains one of the trickiest looks to manage. If Harry Styles can get away with wearing a mens pearl necklace in public; does that mean you can do the same? Because smart-casual is rather open to interpretation, it leaves plenty of room for mistakes. This is not what you want when you’re on a job interview or that all-important third date. But don’t lose heart. Whether you’re a man inquiring for yourself or a woman searching out for gifts for a gentleman, we’ve got it all laid out for you. Mastering the art of smart-casual dressing doesn’t have to provoke anxiety. Read on to find out the right way to do it.

The Basics 

Smart-casual is a modern iteration of business casual. Whilst business casual requires an air of professionalism (i.e., nothing too loud), smart-casual has veered off into the realm of personal expression. The first rule of smart-casual is to look put-together. This means that your clothes are neat, clean, and wrinkle-free. While just about anything can be carried off by a pro, the novice will want to stick to a few fail-proof staples. Once you have these, it is very easy to put together a smart-casual outfit. Our top six picks for smart-casualwear are: 

- Unstructured Blazer 

- Oxford Shirt 

- Chinos 

- Elastic Waist Trousers 

- Derby Shoes 

- Basic Trainers 

The relaxed fit of the blazer matches the modern, casual mood whilst the Oxford shirt is the ultimate in smart-casual. It looks great tucked or untucked making it a go-to for virtually any situation. Chinos have long been a standard, but the elastic-waist trousers represent a real departure. Midway between joggers and standard trousers, they are the perfect compromise of comfort and style. Finally, for your feet, a pair of neutral derbys and some minimalist trainers keep you comfortable while still looking put-together.

Luca Faloni
Luca Faloni

How to Wear Smart-Casual 

Beginning with your base of smart-casual essentials, you can then add in bits and pieces from the rest of your wardrobe. A touch of sportswear here, a stylish piece of jewellery there. A fisherman’s cap is not off-limits in today’s playful atmosphere. Consider not only the silhouette of the clothing but also the texture of the fabric. Chunky knits, suede, and corduroy all add interest to your basic pieces with very little effort. Unique textures are also safer than bold colours or patterns. When in doubt, stick with dark, neutral tones and add just a hint of colour, such as a lavender pocket square. 

When to Wear Smart-Casual 

Now that you know what to wear, the next question is, when should you wear it? Here is an even easier answer: almost all the time. The days of the three-piece suit are nearly gone, replaced by the modern ease and comfort of smart-casual. The purpose of wearing smart-casual is to help you feel to calm and confident in just about any situation. And with a little practice, anyone can get there.

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