The term 'smart casual' is widely agreed to be one of the most ambiguous in the English language. Trusty Google uses smart casual in a sentence as "think of a smart casual outfit as one that you'd wear for a movie or dinner date", and, while we concur, must say that is wildly broad and confusing. But fear not, there are a few tips we can give to make a lot more sense of this whole thing.
When in doubt...
Most importantly: when in doubt, always veer more towards the realm of 'smart' than 'casual'. There is nothing that ruins first impressions quite like showing up to your new office job in tattered jeans. One fail-safe smart garment that every man should invest in is a blazer. The Blake Wool Blend Checked Blazer is a rewarding staple you'll be sure will work hard in your roster. You can't go wrong with the simple single-breasted cut and versatile grey shade. Throw it over a collared shirt and chinos, and you're dinner party-ready! If blue is more your colour, check out the Larkin Wool Blend Twill Blazer in a classic blue colourway.
Appearance over style?
It's important to value the appearance of your clothes rather than just their style. This means making sure shoes are polished, shirts pressed and ties neatly knotted. Just because an event is informal, doesn't mean you can afford to be lazy. Collared shirts are smart casual essentials which need their fair share of love, so you want some that are crisp and crafted from quality fabrics. The Uxbridge Striped Shirt is both of those things, constructed from 2-ply pure cotton and decorated with a vertical stripe. Style it with cuffed jeans and boots and that's another dinner-date style nailed.
Darker colours = More Formal
Sometimes it may not so much be changing up garments, but rather opting for darker ones; darker palettes skew more formal. For example, instead of reaching for the Benjamin Quilted Puffa Jacket in dark khaki, go for the Dylan Leather Jacket in black for a subtly smarter look. If you're looking to style more casually, then the rule applies in reverse.
Change Up the Texture
Formal suiting is invariably crafted from shiny, smooth fabrics which give a close-fitted and streamlined profile. A garment cut from wool, linen, corduroy and other textured fabrics change the look of a piece altogether, making them appear slightly larger in size which adds to the casual feel. The Drydon Knitted Blazer is the perfect example of this, constructed from a wool-cotton blend and available in two versatile colourways, pair it with some chinos and you've got yourself event-ready. Changing up textures also applies for footwear, where suede may sometimes be a more appropriate option than leather.
Make Small Upgrades
A t-shirt can definitely be classed as smart casual, assuming it is plain, fits well and hasn't seen made too many trips to the washing machine. A step above a classic tee, however, is a polo shirt. Those subtle added details provide a little upgrade, while polos like the Miles Pique Polo are great styled with some tailored trousers and crisp, white sneakers. Another upgrade is that from tie to pocket square. It is not common that a tie is required under the smart casual umbrella, but if you're veering more to the smart end of the spectrum, a pocket square is a nice touch. A classic white option will match with virtually anything, or you can use this accessory as an opportunity to add a hint of colour. Fold yours over a few times to give it texture before puffing it in your blazer chest pocket.