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What does Smart Casual mean for a Man?

Hint: It’s not either/or

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Whether you’re heading to a conference, job interview or just trying to weather another casual Friday, there’s nothing more unhelpful than being told to dress smart casual. It’s meant to mean ‘smart-but-not-too-formal’, yet the water is muddied by a lack of clear thresholds – one man’s formalwear is another’s loungewear.

Worse, you can’t mix and match between the two styles – your old worn-out t-shirts tend not to go well with your best ties, after all. So, what should you wear for a smart casual event?

Quality matters

The key to a good smart casual look is to invest in good quality items. It’s fine to wear a t-shirt and suit jacket, for example, but not if the t-shirt is faded and dotted with holes. You can make your outfit look even better by getting it professionally cleaned and pressed beforehand too.

Dress to impress

It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. You can take off a tie and jacket if needed, but you can’t put them on if you’re wearing a polo shirt – so err on the side of being too smart. This goes double for professional events where you want to be sure you’re taken seriously.

Wear chinos

If jeans feel too casual and suit trousers feel too smart, then chinos are the only solution. Invest in a pair of light brown chinos and you can pair them with anything, from fashionably faded Led Zeppelin t-shirts to timelessly stylish T.M. Lewin shirts. Trust us, chinos go well with everything.

Keep footwear simple

Shoes are the easiest thing about perfecting the smart casual look because the main thing is to keep it as simple as possible. Avoid sandals, trainers or anything garish and stick to a classic pair of leather shoes. You don’t need anything too formal, but you might want to give them a shine.

Still in doubt over what to wear? A white shirt, sand-coloured chinos and brown leather shoes look great no matter the event – but only if everything fits well and is freshly pressed. Don’t forget that you can order dry cleaning online if you need help with the second part!

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