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Style Advice

The new way to wear smart trousers

The new way to wear smart trousers

Smart trousers have been thrown into the casual mix for some time now, and we're here for it – especially now that more of us are working from home (Zoom fatigue, anyone?). But while finding ways to incorporate smarter pieces into everyday wardrobes has fast become a priority, it’s not so easy when you just want to stick to your favourite sweatpants. 

That’s why this contemporary take on smart trousers is the casual crossover you’ve been looking for – especially as we all navigate the way to considered yet comfortable dressing. It’s not about details or casual cuts or reinvented pieces. Instead, it’s all in the styling. The good news? We’re certain you’ll be able to pull it off with ease, whatever your style.

Why we love them

It goes without saying that smart trousers are perfect for smart occasions. But knowing how to wear them with casual pieces, on off-duty weekends, or when working from home comes with a range of benefits. Not only will it maximise cost-per-wear, but you’ll also be well on your way to developing a more sustainable capsule wardrobe where smart and casual pieces are no longer separated. 

Smart trousers now come in a range of shapes, styles, and patterns for increased versatility, so if you’re looking to introduce more interesting elements to your wardrobe, this is the perfect opportunity. You can go as simple or as statement-making as you want, but to truly dress them down opt for an interesting silhouette or stick with the classic slim cut. A more draped, relaxed style works well with everyday items to bring the right level of contrast between smart and casual dressing.

What to look for

We say it a lot, but when shopping for smart trousers, invest in a good pair that will work with everything. Cheaper pairs tend to lean toward a basic formal fit, which makes them less versatile and harder to adapt into your casual wardrobe. Similarly, a skinny fit feels too casual and won’t offer the smart contrast against other laid-back pieces. Casual adaptations of smart pieces are less versatile and therefore less wearable. 

A loose cut – and even a drawstring waistband – will incorporate the comfiness that we’ve grown accustomed to this year so you’ll be more likely to reach for these refined trousers in place of your sweatpants, even on lazy days. For extra style points, look for muted patterns like houndstooth or a large check in dark colours.

How to adapt the look for casual outfits

Focus on keeping each piece of your outfit at opposite ends of the smart casual spectrum, and pair your formal trousers with super-casual items. As the looser silhouette of smart trousers feels naturally more relaxed, they’ll do most of the work when it comes to balancing the smart and casual elements of your look. This will have more impact than pairing smart trousers with borderline-casual pieces like an overshirt or a polo.

Avoid using bright colours to emphasise the casual element, and instead stick to muted and dark pieces that feel more wearable and appropriate for the season. A simple colour palette and subtle patterns in place of logos will tick all the boxes.

How to style them

The key to smart casual dressing has always been about balance, and that applies more than ever in the dressing down of formal pieces. Always keep contrast in mind, and keep the casual items super-casual to maintain balance with the formality of the trousers. 

A hoodie and classic sneakers like New Balance are the perfect opposition to a smart overcoat and trousers, and offer a contemporary and interesting silhouette. For a more refined take on the look, pair your trousers with a comfy sweatshirt and chunky derbies, and in warmer weather try a tucked-in crewneck and bright Converse – just be sure to avoid minimal white trainers which have staked their claim as an everyday smart casual essential.


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Words: Ella White
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Toby Standing