Style SOS: What does smart-casual actually mean?
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Dylan said it best when he sang, “The times they are a-changin” more than five decades ago. We may be living in different times, but they're still a-changin' today, and a look inside your wardrobe is one of the best indicators. Take the modern work wardrobe, for instance. It probably looks a lot different than your dad’s or grandfather’s once did, and that’s because smart casual dressing has become the prevailing dress code in offices everywhere, leaving the traditional suit largely in the shadows. But even smart casual style has evolved over the decades. A pair of chinos, a crisp Oxford shirt, and a blazer can look stuffy in environments where they once felt quite casual. Fortunately, there are plenty of other alternatives that will strike the right balance, and feel a lot more comfortable too.
One of the best things you can do for your smart casual update is invest in a relaxed pair of formal trousers. They’ve got the same smart feel of your classic formal trousers, but the relaxed fit gives them a more laid-back, contemporary vibe. And what’s great is you can dress them up with a long-sleeved knit polo or crewneck knit and also down with a t-shirt. If you’re interested in even more comfort, keep an eye out for pairs with an elasticated waist – the 21st century's gift to office style.
A workwear jacket isn't just for the weekend – it can be worn as the modern-day alternative to the blazer when styled thoughtfully, like with the aforementioned relaxed trousers. It can even give your look a smart finish while taking the formality down a notch or two. Plus, it's a wardrobe staple that will take you from work to post-work plans and all the way to the weekend will ease – we promise this will end up being one of the hardest-working pieces in your wardrobe season after season. And when the weather starts to turn, you can nail the same aesthetic with a work shirt. Opt for one in a bright shade to introduce some colour into your wardrobe.
One of the best ways to put a more modern foot forward when it comes to your smart casual wardrobe is with your footwear. A pair of brogues or Oxfords will never go out of style, but a pair of trainers will look much fresher, and will feel exponentially more comfortable on your commute to work. If you’re concerned that your trainers might look too informal, then remember it’s all about the balance. A pair of formal trousers will help elevate them – a pair of jeans, on the other hand, will give you a weekend-ready look you’re probably not going for (at least not until Saturday).
Today, everyone seems to tote their laptop and various other electronics to and from work. So why not use this as an opportunity to add a modern, smart edge to your outfit via a streamlined electronics bag? We recommend going for grey or black to ensure it goes with anything in your wardrobe. And while you’re at it, opt for a sleek watch in lieu of an old-school heirloom piece. It will make a sharp statement while pushing your style further into the modern day. Consider it a literal way to signal the times have changed.
Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Andras Hari
Styling: Millie Rich
Styling assistant: Alexander McCalla