Style SOS: What does smart-casual actually mean?
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I am a teacher, so generally, a blazer is too smart to wear for work. I want a jacket for when school starts up again that is smart enough for work but warm enough for the cooler evenings as we go through to autumn but one that keeps me cool enough in the day (while this summer lingers) – Andy, via email
Teachers have a tough job, not just the never-ending piles of marking and having to deal with children on a daily basis but getting your clothes right. You need to find the balance between professional and approachable, but in a way that communicates you’re not a pushover. The go-to here would traditionally be a blazer, but if a blazer feels too much like you’re playing at being a professor and too smart for every day there are lots of other options that straddle that smart-casual line without making you look like one of the students.
A canvas workwear jacket is a great place to start. Created for French labourers in the late 1800s, the bright blue jacket – blue to denote working on the factory floor, white was reserved for the boss – was designed for functionality, not style. It was durable, practical (thanks to the oversized pockets where you could store your tools) and designed to be worn over your clothes to protect them. The modern workwear jacket doesn’t require you to be grafting on the production line (standing in front of a room full of students is work enough) but still has the functional, durable elements that make it such a mainstay. There are loads of great styles from this traditional blue style by Portuguese Flannel to a soft green from Reiss. If you want something more casual that still has the feel of a workwear jacket this corduroy overshirt from Les Duex is a great option.
If a workwear jacket feels too heavy, why not try a bomber jacket. This is a more relaxed choice than a workwear jacket (so may depend on the formality of your school) but still a really great option. It can still feel smart, particularly if you go for a black or navy. If you want to step away from the darker options this red River Island bomber is a nice alternative that will feel fresh and modern but still mature.
Both these styles are ones you can wear when term starts again and will be warm enough for those cooler evening and early morning bus duty.
Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Illustration: Ryan Gillett