Decoding The Dress Code

You’ve probably heard of dressing ‘smart casual’. But the line can sometimes become blurred between too formal and too casual, so what should you and your partner be wearing? CT Shirts, retailers of men’s slim fit suits, gives us some advice on decoding the dress code.

How to style 

For some occasions or events, you aren’t provided with advice on what to wear. Some offices and workplaces have ‘dress down Fridays’ or a casual dress code every day. However, it’s still nice to make an effort and look reasonably smart — even if this doesn’t involve a ballgown or three-piece suit and tie. 

For other occasions, you’ll be strictly asked to follow the smart casual code. At a dinner party for example, a tuxedo or ball gown is not expected but slack jeans and a T-shirt would be looked down on. Or, for a first interview, it may specify casual in the email, but first impressions count and your outfit should still be carefully considered. 

Choosing to dress smart casual can simply be a safe option for many. It avoids the error of looking like you don’t take pride in your appearance and prevents you feeling out of place by dressing too formally. 

What to buy? 

Fortunately, to achieve the smart casual look, you don’t need to purchase a whole new outfit! One or two smart garments should be enough.  

Invest in a blazer that you like and feel comfortable in. It depends on your fashion preferences as to what sort of blazer you opt for — just choose one that you feel confident in and it will show. For women, a structured blazer emphasises the shape of the body. It gives more of a snug fit to the wearer and is generally more expensive, as it takes great skill to create an impressive jacket of this style. Navy is a good choice for a blazer as it is very versatile and not as formal as the traditional black jacket.For men, an unstructured blazer is perfect for those who prefer a relaxed look and want to avoid a rigid and overly tailored shape. Some believe that these are more comfortable too, as they are without inner folds and allow you to move more freely.  

Buy some stylish footwear. Women can nail the smart casual look in a pair of neutral-shade flats, which are versatile enough to wear with multiple outfit styles and colours. Depending on your preferences, choose a pair of brogues or loafers to complete a smart casual look for men. Brogues are uber stylish and recognisable by their detailed leather uppers and thin laces. Loafers, on the other hand, are lower shoes so the ankle is exposed, they do not have laces and often have a low heel. They can be seen as less formal than the brogue because more of the foot is on show. In terms of colour, brown is a good colour to go for as it can be paired with denim or smart trousers, whereas black may be too dark to complement some colours. 

Something else worth investing in is a good pair of trousers. A light pair of chinos or tapered trousers are good options for warmer weather, as they can brighten up your outfit whilst keeping you looking smart. If you feel more comfortable in jeans, try to choose a darker denim as this gives off a more formal vibe — just avoid distressed or ripped denim at all costs. 

What to wear on top? 

For women, a loose -fitting shirt or smart blouse is suitable for smart casual. But, what about men? How should they achieve the look? 

A nice jumper  

A good way to dress smartly in the cooler months is with a jumper. A roll-neck jumper is perfect for layering and looking smart. Pair a black wool roll-neck with a grey, slim-fit jacket and coloured pocket square to become the master of business casual. Match your socks with your pocket square for co-ordination and wear your favourite pair of swanky trousers. 

Your favourite shirt 

Men can dress down their favourite shirt by opening the collar. Choose complementing colours for the shirt and blazer, such as different hues of blue or grey, to really make your outfit come together. Slip into tailored trousers, or jeans and pair with brogues to complete the look. 

 Next time you receive that smart casual request, hopefully this post has helped with decoding the dress code so you and your partner know how to dress! Of course, keeping your outfit neat and tidy is important too, so don’t let smaller details drop you into the ‘casual’ bracket. Have a lint roller on hand before leaving the house and make sure you always look your best. 


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