Smart casual is a loosely defined dress code that is casual, yet "smart" (i.e. "neat") enough to conform to the particular standards of certain Western social groups. As smart casual is not formally defined, the lines between it and other casual styles, such as business casual (see Western dress code), are unclear.
Smart casual was first mentioned in the Iowa newspaper The Davenport Democrat And Leader in May 1924:
|The sleeveless dress with three-quarter overblouses, in smock appearance completing it for street wear, is accorded various interpretations. It is at once practiced and gives a smart casual appearance.|
Smart casual was commonly used in the last century and merged to form the term business casual in the 1950s, implying a casual suit than the traditional, usual dark suit in heavy cloth.
Australia's national dictionary Macquarie Dictionary define smart casual as "well-dressed in casual clothing". Oxford Dictionaries define "neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code". Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon define "of clothing, somewhat informal but neat".
Personal judgement is required to interpret the ill-defined term smart casual based on its context, theme, people, location, weather and spirit. Italian fashion house Brioni explain smart casual is not an issue of inventory or classification, but rather knowledge and good taste to understand the environment; demonstrating that smart casual during summer in Sardinia is different than smart casual during winter in Toronto. An Australian freelance fashion director remarks, "Smart Casual is the dress code most open to interpretation and the one least understood", and advises wearing fresher colors, lighter, softer materials, patterned, relaxed, thoughtful, less structured, clean and not confrontational apparel with fabrics like linen, cashmere, fine wool and cotton that are freshly laundered.
- Stand out but blend in by understanding the workplace’s environment.
- Achieve a business-professional look by clarifying the attire in advance because "it's easier to be overdressed than underdressed".
- Wear a smart coat if avoiding a suit to give the impression of a "good entrance because it has an air of formality: a well-cut trench, worn with open shirt and neat slacks".
- Wear accessories to "show creativity and attention to detail", but keep them to a minimal.
- Smart, plain and straight jeans are acceptable.
- Shoes should be clean and un-scruffy.
Global men's fashion business Topman emphasizes the flexibility of smart casual by stating that an individual's personality and comfort level of clothing choice defines the dress code. Smart casual is a multi-purpose outfit that is acceptable for formal occasions, dating or casual social gatherings. Topman explains casual and formal clothing pieces are mixed and matched, and illustrates a smart casual outfit can include a mixture of jeans, blazers, sweaters, necktie, a pair of Brogue shoes, dress shirts, or a pair of converse shoes.
Global men's fashion magazine GQ attempts defining smart casual for a recruitment event. Wearing denim, chinos, a blazer and white shirt to make an impression is suggested. Carrying a necktie is advisable; the author comments "it is far more embarrassing to be under-dressed than over".
Global women's magazine Cosmopolitan in South Africa interprets smart casual as the way most South Africa dresses to work. In addition to work, the outfit is also interchangeable for use at large or small daytime parties, and wearing a dress shirt with elegant accessories is suggested.
Pakistani fashion magazine Fashion Central defines a woman's smart casual from an employment perspective by emphasizing the importance of understanding the workplace's environment and culture. Unwanted attention or jeopardizing one's career may eventuate if incorrect apparel is worn; therefore, checking a company's dress code guideline is advisable. Fashion Central outlines smart casual is clothes unstained and wrinkle-free with non-loud and non-bright colors that reflect the woman's age. Fancy or too casual dresses are inadvisable as well as the use of extreme make-up, such as using dark, glossy or chalky shades, or applying too much eye shadow. Fashion Central reports black or brown heels are preferred by women and advise to correctly select appropriate shoes for a workplace's environment.
Norwegian and American cruise line brand Royal Caribbean International clarifies smart casual for main dining on-board its fleet. Blazers, trousers (including khaki), neckties or shirts are acceptable but shorts, jeans or t-shirts are unacceptable for men. Dresses, casual dresses, pantsuits are acceptable for women.
||This section may contain original research. (May 2013)|
Smart casual for men includes dress trousers, a long-sleeve dress shirt (tie optional), leather loafers or dressy slip-ons, dress socks, a belt, and, if appropriate, a sport coat or blazer. Some interpretations allow for sweaters and knit pullovers paired with button-down shirts; especially v-neck sweaters. Dark-coloured and well-maintained jeans are acceptable in some environments but not in others. Flip flops and shorts are not acceptable under a smart casual, nor in most cases are T-shirts (especially printed ones), except as an undershirt. Smart casual attire should feature muted, usually solid colors (patterns, if present, should be modest, such as vertical and/or horizontal stripes on shirts and houndstooth or argyle on sweaters; pants should always be a solid pattern).
- "Smart Casual" Oxford English Dictionary
- Martin, Gary. "Smart casual". Phrasefinder. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "Macquarie Dictionary". Macquarie Dictionary Publishers Pty Ltd. 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Definition of smart casual in Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Define Smart casual at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.com, LLC. 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Smart Casual – Some Thoughts". HENRY BUCK PTY LTD. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Chilvers, Simon (15 August 2009). "The smart-casual interview". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Anka, Carl; Harvey, Laura (13 January 2013). "SMART CASUAL: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE". Topman GENERATION. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Johnston, Robert. "How to master "smart casual"". Condé Nast UK. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Rinquest, Mishkah. "Decoded". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Look Smart & Elegant - Dressing Secrets For Working Women". Fashion Central. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Cruise Clothing Myth Buster". Royal Caribbean. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013.