Need to dress smart-casual to an event, but worried you’ll overdress or underdress? ‘Smart-casual’ needn’t seem like a scary balancing act. Whilst different people have their own interpretations (denim jeans are a no-no for some people), there are some rules that are always a safe bet. Here are some of those rules to consider.  

Smart pants, casual top

One popular way to dress smart-casual is to wear suit trousers with a casual buttoned shirt. For the winter you could add a cardigan to the top of this – a black cardigan with black trousers is likely to work well. Alternatively, you could wear white suit trousers with a plain white tee and a navy blazer over the top. Because a plain white tee is very casual, the navy blazer can off-set it a little making it that little bit more formal.

Casual pants, smart top

Another option is to wear casual pants such as chinos with a smart shirt and blazer. Jeans might be a step too far in some environments, however, can also work well with a smart shirt and blazer. You may even be able to top off your shirt off with a tie or even a bow tie and suspenders. Make sure you really need to know how to put on suspenders before making that fashion choice.

Meet somewhere in the middle

Sometimes it can be possible to meet in the middle. Some brilliant mens cords with a patterned buttoned shirt are an example of a smart-casual choice in which both the pants and the top blur the lines of formality. Brightly-coloured tight-fitting suits may also fit in the smart-casual category when worn without a tie.

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Take care with colour choices

The colours you choose to wear can also have an effect on whether something is deemed too smart or too casual. Black smart trousers and a black blazer are likely to look very formal and conservative even with a plain white tee. It’s possible to opt for more wild colours at social events or business meetings – dressing in red is thought to help demonstrate authority, whilst yellow can show creativity. However, in some occasions such as a job interview these colours may be a bit too bold. Blue is generally a more calming colour suited for most intimate occasions. Black, white, beige and navy blue are versatile and can be used in all occasions.

Step up your footwear

Your footwear is also important to consider when matching the formality. Brown leather brogues can be a safe option in most scenarios. You may be able to get away with white trainers when also wearing casual pants but a formal top. Similarly, if you’re wearing black leather shoes, these may work better with black formal trousers and a casual shirt on top. There’s a recent smart-casual trend of wearing shoes without socks, but this is best for summer. In the winter, stick to socks or wear ankle boots.