HOME > Fashion History >


Written by in Fashion History on the

Evolution of Menswear: From Suits to Smart Casual

A perfectly tailored blazer, standby white shirt, classic tie and trousers that fit like a glove and there you had a suit that would fit every occasion. Fortunately for some, the times when men are expected to wear suits are over, unless you’re attending a wedding or an important business meeting. Society's requirements on men's fashion have eased up a lot over the years giving men some choice in what they wear. Still, while the suit remains timeless and a classic piece of clothing that's been worn for decades, they don't provide the multitude of uses as general clothes provided by fashion brands today. Where men's fashion is constantly evolving around us, there are still some boundaries on what is and what isn't acceptable for certain occasions. The term “smart casual” is a new and interesting concept that arguably could give credit to offices that don’t want to wear suits but still need to look professional and well put together.

What is Smart Casual? 

The concepts of smart casual can be simply explained as the standards of formality shifting, with the rise of informal workplace attire and “casual Fridays” being introduced, it blurs the line between workwear and streetwear for men. Some may describe it as anything besides a tracksuit but not to go as far as a suit. Just replace or swap a few things for something a little less formal and you’re good to go.

- Rodd & Gunn
- Rodd & Gunn

Where To Start 

You’ve been invited to an interview and the invitation reads “smart-casual” which can be confusing and daunting at the same time, and you’d rather be told one or the other. Even Lanvin Homme's creative director Mr. Lucas Ossendrijver said “If I’m honest, I'm not even sure what smart-casual means”, You are not alone but it's not as difficult or confusing as it can initially come across, just a few styling tips and you’ll be able to compete with the smart-casual phenomenon. When in doubt it’s always better to be over-dressed than underdressed and whatever you wear as long as the outfit looks well put together it's not that big of a deal. The key is sometimes to mix it up and think whether you saw this on someone else you would you consider it smart. 

Dark Side 

Darker colours automatically appear more formal, therefore wearing a comfortable pair of black trousers with a black jumper and white shirt and or polo underneath or for when it is warmer a pair of black trousers with a short-sleeved shirt. Then, just add a little colour and your outfit is transformed to a trending streetwear look. This simple but effective method of dressing is also easy and affordable, it's just as simple as wearing darker shades while staying fashionable and on-trend.



This can change an outfit from being too casual to smart. To be on the safe side I would always avoid trainers to avoid being underdressed. Stick with your Oxford, derby, and brogue boots or shoes. These styles can go a long way and can be worn for more formal occasions such as weddings. Therefore, it's best to invest in a nice multi-use shoe that avoids any embarrassment in the future. Although trainers never hurt anyone even Chris Brown said “with the suit and sneaker combo becoming more and more visible on the red carpet, the goalposts for what can be classed as ‘smart’ has shifted significantly’. Therefore, a well-structured outfit looks smart enough for any kind of shoe. 


A nice pair of trousers can give you the freedom to wear something more casual on top. A pair of fitted black trousers can be paired well with a grey or black jumper. Alternatively, chinos bring that casual feel without looking so day-to-day and diverse enough to come to the office but also meet up with friends straight after. David Beckham even said “Alongside high-end sneakers, the drawstring trouser is another example of how contemporary elements are creeping into smart causal aesthetic”.

- Thursday Boot Company
- Thursday Boot Company

Winter Formal

It can be hard to piece together a whole outfit, so here are a couple of options in the hope of inspiring your next outfit. As we are approaching the colder seasons it can sometimes be difficult to keep warm while trying to stay warm at the same time. Some advice we would give is to start with a nice staple blazer, one that is big enough to act as a layering piece. If it’s in your style, pick a Tweed or wool one for that extra cosy warm feel. Underneath your blazer pick a nice plain shirt, there's no need to overthink this as it will be mostly covered by a jumper of your choice, a smart clean and fashionable piece that doesn't clash with your blazer. For the bottom half, this is your chance to casual it up and opt for some chinos or smart denim jeans. This will look casual but well put together and casual enough for both the office and drinks after. As this outfit would be for the colder days, loafers are out of the question, we’d recommend a pair of Chukka boots or classic Chelsea boots. 

Everyday Every week 

This look would be a classic any time of the year whether it is raining, cold or in springtime. it's very versatile and smart-casual. With inspiration from colour-blocking styles, choose a pair of smart jeans or chinos and team with a plain jumper. To elevate the look, add a smart jacket that could be a suede bomber or plain collared button-up. This adds a layer of sophistication, casual it up with a pair of low leather smart trainers and you have a cohesive look that can be taken out of the office.

- Magee
- Magee

New To This? 

If we could give anyone some quick easy advice, we’d simply suggest you buy some dark-coloured trousers, nice quality jumpers and a selection of shirts to begin your smart-casual wardrobe. Although every office life is different, some can be stricter than others but to be on the safe side, keep to these styling tips to find what works best for you.

previous post
next post