A Guide to Smart Casual

A Guide to Smart Casual


Smart casual dressing is the perfect blend of chic and comfortable that is becoming ever more common. This way of dressing is something we have all been subconsciously doing for years but this oxymoron that seems more than contradictory is one we are all eager to truly master. Here at Barbour, we are here to answer your questions on this trend and help you achieve this carefully balanced look with ease.  

What is Smart Casual?

The best way to explain the art of mastering the ‘smart casual’ dress code, is to understand that in its most simple form, it is to dress formally but not too formal. The aim is to look put together and clean, while not looking overly refined. We think the best approach to take is to find your balance of pairing timeless tailoring staples with everyday casual lifestyle pieces to give your typical office-appropriate formal dressing, a more comfortable everyday edge.  

What Does Smart Casual Mean for Men? 

If done correctly, smart casual can take you from a day in the office to after-work drinks and everything in between. If you are looking to build a smart casual edit for men, then 5 essential pieces will help you to create a multitude of outfit combinations. To help you find the balance of formal and informal, our suggestions are: 

  1. Trousers – we recommend choosing chinos, non-ripped high-quality jeans or tailored straight-fit trousers to create a staple base for any look. 
  2. Shirts – try to avoid graphics, patterns, or bold colours to keep your look polished. If a shirt does not quite fit the look, why not try a simple tailored polo shirt for a more casual alternative or light knitwear? 
  3. Jackets - a full suit is too formal for this dress code, but a tailored blazer is the perfect way to balance your look. When paired with a high-quality knit or polo shirt, you can easily find the balance between the formality of a blazer and your chosen layers. 
  4. Shoes - even something as simple as the composition of your footwear can help to bring your smart casual outfit together. Why not try suede loafers or Oxford shoes for a balanced look? If trainers are a must, try to keep a pair aside for formal occasions with a simple look to avoid looking too casual. 
  5. Accessories - every look requires carefully chosen accessories to complete it, we recommend a reliable leather belt and wallet to bring it all together.

What does smart casual mean for women?  

Offering the perfect way to bring versatility to your edit, smart casual dressing offers the opportunity to mix and match the spectrum of formality and casualwear in a considered way. Finding the perfect balance between these two, opposites, may seem tricky but like for men, a few simple staples can create a wealth of opportunities to master this dress code with ease.  

  1. Tops - when it comes to choosing your base layers, this is your opportunity to have fun. We recommend opting for a playful blouse or if you would prefer to air on the side of formality, a button-up shirt with rolled sleeves is the perfect place to start. 
  2. Bottoms - Just like for men, tailored trousers or dark wash jeans are a great place to start. But if you would prefer this to be your casual element, why not try a denim midi skirt or satin skirt? 
  3. Dresses - a dress is your perfect one-stop option to achieve this look. Simply opt for a below-the-knee-length to achieve a day-to-night smart casual look or even experiment with a jumpsuit for a modern take. 
  4. Footwear - your footwear choice can make or break your look, so we recommend maintaining the smart casual balance with loafers or a smart trainer for a considered look. 

When to wear smart casual? 

Of course, there is always a place for smart casual dressing but if you are ever unsure of the dress code, this is a great place to start. As a hybrid, smart casual is perfect for taking you from formal office settings to an evening of social occasions and events in a professional setting. As a balance of two styles, it provides the flexibility for you to dress up even further or even make it more casual if needed, meaning this dress code is always versatile when considering the context of the social setting you are attending.

Smart Casual Outfit Ideas 

Now that you’ve discovered how to dress smart casual and built a wardrobe of staples to help you master this hybrid dress code, we’ve put together a selection of outfit ideas to help you wear this style like a professional. From menswear to womenswear, these simple outfits are created from basics that everyone is sure to have in their wardrobe to help make this an achievable style for all.

Men’s Smart Casual Outfit Ideas 

A polo shirt is the perfect foundation to base your smart casual outfit on. The Binder knitted polo shirt, for example, offers a modern blend between fine knitwear and a staple polo shirt, giving it a contemporary look that’s perfect for transeasonal styling. Crafted from a cotton and merino wool blend and finished with a modern zip-up detail, it has a premium feel that gives this everyday staple a luxurious touch.  

We recommend balancing out this formal base layer by pairing it with the Penton cargo trousers. Boasting a straight-leg fit that ensures they don’t lean too casual, they’re finished with an elasticated waistband for comfort and cargo-inspired pockets for a modern, trend-led look. Simply pair this outfit with the Felix trainers for a contemporary look or a pair of loafers, if you feel the occasion requires a more formal finish.

Women’s Smart Casual Outfit Ideas

If you’re looking for a modern alternative to classic tailoring, we recommend a reliable pair of faux leather trousers. Providing the perfect balance between smart and casual, the Agusta Trousers feature an elasticated and adjustable waistband for optimal comfort while their tapered silhouette ensures they’re a flattering fit for all. 

Providing the perfect base layer for your wardrobe, the crisp white Alonso t-shirt is a versatile addition to this look. Simply give it a neat tuck into the trousers to keep your look streamlined and pair it with the Aurora lace-up boots for a sophisticated touch. Never forgetting your outer layers, the International quilted jacket ensures you have mastered the dress code from head to toe.

Master smart casual styling with Barbour 

Whether you’re heading to a social event and want to look your best or are simply looking to build a wardrobe of the most versatile staples to ensure you’re prepared for any occasion, we hope this guide has given you the tools you need to create a smart casual outfit with confidence. If you’re feeling inspired by our suggestions and are looking to add some key, new season pieces to your edit, our collection of men’s and womenswear is here to prepare you for your next event.

  1. B.Intl McCloud Checked Shirt
    B.Intl McCloud Checked Shirt
  2. Morgan Midi Dress
    Morgan Midi Dress
  3. Control Overshirt
    Control Overshirt
  4. Comet Chelsea Boots
    Comet Chelsea Boots
  5. Newman Showerproof Jacket
    Newman Showerproof Jacket
  6. Tourer Clove Utility Jacket
    Tourer Clove Utility Jacket
  7. Piquet Rib-Knit Jumper
    Piquet Rib-Knit Jumper
  8. Quilted Hoxton Backpack
    Quilted Hoxton Backpack
  9. Racer Travel Backpack
    Racer Travel Backpack