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What Smart Casual Dress Code Really Means and How to Wear It to Look Cool

What Smart Casual Dress Code Really Means and How to Wear It to Look Cool

Dress codes have their place, especially for business or special occasions. Smart and formal wear is pretty easy to make a decision on, and casual usually indicates jeans are acceptable and everything in between.

But what about smart casual? It can sometimes feel ambiguous and leave us wondering and questioning what exactly is appropriate.

The Smart Casual Dress Code Dilemma

Work is when we have most of these dilemmas. It’s more acceptable to risk getting it wrong at a social gathering, but work and business is where we want to make a good impression.

Suits, ties, smart dresses, and trousers are easy to pick out, but when you get the memo stating smart casual dress code you can start to worry whether you’re going to get it right. It can be hard to identify the subtle differences between smart causal, business casual, and just plain casual.

The Importance of Getting It Right

In work and business, dress code can mean so much more – which is why it’s more important to get it right. Many people dress inappropriately purely because they’ve misunderstood the smart casual concept. While smart may drum up a blazer and casual makes you think of your favorite well-worn jeans, the two together do not make a smart casual outfit. Making a good impression and fitting in with a company’s dress code is paramount, and will save embarrassment on a first day in the office.

What Exactly Is Smart Casual?

While some companies have different variations or leniency on a smart casual dress code, the majority of companies will stick to a certain look that smart casual brings.

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So what exactly is smart casual to most people? And what do we need to know in order to make the most of our wardrobe? What you ultimately want to aim for is a good balance of comfort and effort.

To eliminate any confusion, and not to be left to our own interpretation only to turn up and realize we made a huge judgement error, here is a guide to what smart casual really means.

Smart Casual Dress Code For Men

Shirt

    A good fitted shirt can bring both a smart and casual element to your outfit, depending on what you prefer. A single-colored shirt is obviously the safe option, but it’s okay to pick something more unique and patterned to bring some personality to your look.

    Blazer

      A blazer is a great alternative to a suit jacket because it shouts sophistication as well as casual. Dark colors or light single colors can be versatile and be used in many different combinations of outfits. If you’re bold enough, a patterned or brighter colored blazer or jacket can be the centerpiece and still be acceptable.

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      T-Shirt

        T-shirts can be hard to decipher in terms of whether it’s deemed too casual. However, it’s perfectly acceptable as long as you stick to plain colors; teamed with a good fitting blazer and slacks, it can be both comfortable and professional.

        Ties

          Ties don’t have to be overly formal and a bow tie can add a bit of personality into the mix.

          Trousers

            Jeans can be perfectly acceptable in a smart casual setting, but make sure they’re well fitted or dark in color – no holes or rips. Chinos are a good option, as they’re comfortable and always manage to look pretty smart, especially when teamed with a good blazer and shirt.

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            Shoes

              You can pretty much get away with wearing anything on your feet as long as they’re not trainers. Slip-ons are a good option, or some smart boots are a good way to compliment an outfit.

              Smart Casual Dress Code For Women

              Tops

                Women probably have a better array of options when it comes to different tops. The key is to keep your top-half on the smart side, and you can pretty much get away with what you choose for the bottom. Keep it conservative with floral or an elegant plain blouse, shirt, sleeveless, or flowy option.

                Blazer or Jacket

                  Of course, a light fitted blazer or jacket can instantly make an outfit look a bit more smart, and any color goes.

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                  Skirts and Dresses

                    Again, skirts or dresses are a great option for a smart casual dress code, as you can’t really go too wrong. Make sure the skirt is not too high above the knee and is teamed with a smart top. As for dresses, summer or floral is a good choice, but make sure it’s not too strappy or flimsy like you’re ready for the beach.

                    Trousers

                      Tailored trousers or chinos are acceptable as smart casual wear. A nice pair of fitted jeans with no rips or holes can be a staple part of your wardrobe because once teamed with a blazer or pair of heels it can instantly become chic.

                      Shoes

                        Most shoes are good to go as long as they’re not dirty or tatty. Sports trainers are considered a bit of a no-no unless they’re plain and fashioned, but pumps, slip-ons, and heels can all make an outfit fit the brief.

                        If you’re ever in doubt of what smart casual entails, always lean on the side of smart when picking your outfit to be on the safe side. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed when work and business are concerned. But teaming up a good balance of comfort with that professional vibe will more than likely be a winner.

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                        Jenny Marchal

                        A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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                        Published on June 19, 2019

                        Your Beliefs About Success May Be Holding You Back

                        Your Beliefs About Success May Be Holding You Back
                        Pause for a moment and think about how you would describe success.

                        If your description is dominated by money or status, then your image of success is faulty.

                        For example, there are countless people who have these assets but don’t feel successful. Some of these people have enormous amounts of disposable income, but work so many hours during the day that they have no life beyond their work.

                        Would you regard these people as successful?

                        At first glance, I likely wouldn’t.

                        And, then there are the endless celebrities who go from fame to failure (think bankruptcy, addictions and worse).

                        Are they successful?

                        Probably not.

                        In truth, success is about happiness and fulfillment in life.

                        But, there is more than one definition of success. Just look at the above example of the person who worked too hard to spend their money. If they’re happy with their life, then we shouldn’t criticize their version of success.

                        So how about you? Do you have a clear definition of what success looks like for you?

                        If you don’t, you’ll be constantly chasing someone else’s idea of success, and could find yourself totally unfulfilled and miserable.

                        The good news is that over the next few minutes, I’m going to give you the tools you need to build a crystal clear picture of YOUR SUCCESS.

                        Positive Thinking

                        With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

                        For instance, if you’re fed up with your job, but do nothing to change it, then you’ll likely be stuck there for years to come. But, if you see the job as a stepping stone to something bigger and better, then not only will you enjoy your work more, but you’ll have something positive to aim towards (e.g., a promotion or new job).

                        The example above demonstrates a little-known factor of success… suffering!

                        Yes, suffering may be a negative thing that most people go out of their way to avoid; but successful people use suffering as a springboard to big achievements. Mindset really does separate the losers from the winners.

                        Another thing you can do, is to gradually build up your positivity and confidence by tracking your progress towards your goals. And, each time you accomplish something – however small – be sure to celebrate it!

                        This is a great way to propel you towards success.

                        The Purpose of a Purpose

                        What is your purpose in life?

                        These are questions I suggest you spend some time thinking about. To help you find the answers, consider the following:

                        If you just seek a career, all you will find is a career.

                        But, if you seek a purpose, you’ll find something much more than a career – you’ll find your calling. And when you’ve found this, and you begin following it, you’ll be firmly in the middle of the happiness, satisfaction and success zone.

                        This is backed by science, with research showing that people who have a purpose and meaning in life have an increase in:[1]
                        • Overall well-being
                        • Mental and physical health
                        • Resiliency
                        • Self-esteem

                        But, don’t mistake seeking happiness and success as your purpose. These things are a natural result of following your purpose – but shouldn’t be your focal point.

                        Austrian Neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said it well:

                        “It is the very pursuit of happiness, that thwarts happiness.”

                        What about YOUR purpose?

                        If you’re struggling to identify it, look for the things in your life that you’re good at, enthuse you, and provide a benefit to the world.

                        Becoming a Better You

                        Are your beliefs holding you back?

                        If yes, here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW to break out of your mind trap:

                        1. Boost Your Confidence: you can do this by overcoming challenges that come your way. For example, if you have a fear of public speaking, face this challenge head-on by agreeing to do regular presentations for your company, or by joining a public speaking organization like Toastmasters International. Speak in public often enough, and your fear of it will plunge like a river going over a waterfall.
                        2. Develop Healthy Habits: I’m talking about positive habits that will serve you day in, day out. Habits such as lifelong learning, eating well, and waking up early. When these things are automatic for you, you’ll reap incredible benefits from them. Take eating well, for example. You’ll feel better. You’ll look better. And you’ll have way more energy to make things happen in your life.
                        3. Invoke the Magic of Goal Setting: Without goals, you’ll drift through life like a plastic bottle in the sea. But with goals, you’ll be like a 100m sprinter running towards the finishing line. Goals really are powerful tools. They’ll direct your focus and energy, and will allow you to track your progress in life. I recommend the SMART goal-setting method (find out about this here).

                        And, always remember… don’t compare yourself to others; only compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

                        Each step you take forward is making you a better version of you.

                        Success Is Self-Love

                        I encourage you to take the tips I’ve shared in this article and put them into action in your life. Ideally, starting right now!

                        Firstly, transform your mindset by facing up to challenges and overcoming them. Then spend time to discover your purpose. And, once you’ve found it – start following it.

                        Becoming a better version of you will take some time, but will be worth the wait. Not only will you reach into untapped potential in your life, but you’ll also develop respect and love for yourself along the way.

                        So don’t let your beliefs hold you back anymore. BREAK FREE from them and start enjoying a happy, healthy and successful life.

                        Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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