How To Dress Smart Casual

When it comes to fashion, the expression ‘smart casual’ is one that we hear regularly. Sometimes it’s because we’re attending an event to which the dress code is marked as ‘smart casual’. Other times, we might read an article about a celebrity that rocked a ‘smart casual’ outfit on the red carpet. 
Essential Workwear Green Straight Leg Trousers
Essential Workwear Green Straight Leg Trousers
Heritage Check Blazer
Heritage Check Blazer

But what exactly is smart casual?

While we’re constantly being reminded of how fabulous this trend is, it would seem that many of us still haven’t quite grasped what it actually means. After all, how can you possibly be smart and casual at the same time?

It’s confusing - we totally get it. So, for this blog post,  we thought we’d get to work on putting this befuddlement to bed once and for all. Explaining everything you need to know about dressing smart casual, I’m going to clear up any confusion you might have, and share some smart-casual outfit ideas with you, too!

What Is Smart Casual?

First things first, let’s be clear about this - there are absolutely zero gimmicks here. As a trend, ‘smart casual’ is quite literally, exactly what it says on the tin.

Blurring the lines between what makes a ‘smart’ outfit and what makes a ‘casual’ one, dressing in a smart casual manner is all about blending elements of the two styles to create a chic and sophisticated ensemble that isn’t too fancy.

To explain this in a little more detail and give you all a clear idea as to what a smart casual outfit might look like, it’s likely that you’d team a smart blazer and blouse with a casual pair of straight leg jeans and a comfortable but chic pair of flats. Alternatively, you may pair some tapered, tailored trousers with some pretty heels and a relaxed-fitting t-shirt.

Hopefully, this now makes a little more sense!

5 Top Tips For Smart Casual Styling

1. Follow the trusty ‘one-two rule.’ In short, the idea of this is to begin with a casual outfit and then switch either one or two garments for smarter, more chic alternatives.

2. Make sure everything you’re wearing is properly ironed so that there are no creases, and give your shoes a good clean and polish, too! - The casual element of the look is all about relaxing the outfit a little and giving it a bit more versatility, but it’s still important that everything is very clean and neat.

3. Don’t be afraid to accessorise! Extras such as sunglasses, handbags and jewellery really help to elevate the smart casual look, so if you’re itching to wear that new watch, feel free to give into temptation!

4. Experiment with different hairstyles. One of the great things about the smart casual look is that you’re as free to rock a messy bun as you are a sleek up-do - both will look fab, so be sure to switch things up now and again!

5. Be creative! You’d be amazed by the endless possibilities when it comes to smart casual dressing.

Our Top 5 Smart Casual Outfit Ideas

1. How to dress smart casual for work

If you’ve ever felt limited when it comes to your workwear wardrobe, then listen up - things aren’t as bleak as they might seem. In fact, there are actually a whole range of amazing smart casual outfits out there just waiting to make their debut. And guess what? They’re more than OK to wear to work!

Contrary to what you may think, you can easily dress in a smart casual manner for work without looking too relaxed. The trick is to understand where to draw the line and which items are appropriate, and which ones aren’t. Of course, this will vary depending on your place of work - some offices operate a more strict dress code, while others are fairly chilled out - but there are certainly ways in which you can dress both for comfort and style.

My advice on this front would be to always dress appropriately. Plunging necklines, short skirts and rip/tear detailing should be crossed firmly off your list, while loose fitting jersey tops and plus size skinny jeans be marked with a seal of approval.

Here’s an outfit idea we've put together to give you a little more inspiration…

Indigo Premium Shape & Sculpt Skinny Jeans Regular Length
Indigo Premium Shape & Sculpt Skinny Jeans Regular Length
Yumi Curves Lace Detail Top
Yumi Curves Lace Detail Top
Statement Collarless Blazer
Statement Collarless Blazer
Leather Slip On Loafers Wide E Fit
Leather Slip On Loafers Wide E Fit

2. How to dress smart casual for a night out

When it comes to dressing for a night out, most women will default to the classic ‘dress, heels and clutch bag’ ensemble, which is absolutely fine! - but why not break the mould and switch things up a little for a change?

For an outfit that’s guaranteed to catch a second glance, pull on a pair of wide leg checked trousers and tuck a crisp white t shirt into the waistline. In terms of footwear, pointed court shoes are a complete fail-safe, meanwhile chunky jewellery promises to add a touch of glamour. For that all important finishing touch, accessories with a statement handbag and be sure to apply a lick of sheer gloss lipstick. Gorgeous!

Wide Leg Checked Trousers
Wide Leg Checked Trousers
Vero Moda Francis Top
Vero Moda Francis Top
Heavenly Soles Court Shoes Wide E Fit
Heavenly Soles Court Shoes Wide E Fit
Love Moschino Small Velvet Cross-Body Bag
Love Moschino Small Velvet Cross-Body Bag
MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour
MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour

3. How to dress smart casual during the day

Throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt may feel like the easiest option during the day - especially at the weekend! - but sometimes, it’s nice to dress up a little and get creative. So, if you’re tired of wearing the same things over and over again, perhaps it’s time you switched things up a little?

Opting for a smart casual outfit will enhance your daytime look and allow you to experiment with different styles that you may not have tried before. And while you may associate the likes of blazers, blouses and tailored trousers with more formal occasions, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that such pieces can be dressed down easily when teamed with more casual garments.

For a daytime look that’ll leave you looking just as fabulous as you feel, pop on a pair of white jeans and tuck your favourite wrap-over blouse into the waistline. To complete the look, throw a tailored blazer on over the top and finish things off with a pair of heels and a gorgeous gold watch. Effortlessly chic!

White Shape & Sculpt High Waist Straight Leg Jeans Regular Length
White Shape & Sculpt High Waist Straight Leg Jeans Regular Length
Pink Stripe Long Sleeve Wrap Blouse
Pink Stripe Long Sleeve Wrap Blouse
Basic Black Workwear Blazer
Basic Black Workwear Blazer
Radley Ladies Mesh Strap Flower Watch
Radley Ladies Mesh Strap Flower Watch
Clarks Calla Rose Wide Fitting Shoes
Clarks Calla Rose Wide Fitting Shoes

4. How to dress smart casual during autumn and winter

When the cold weather begins to settle in, it can become very difficult to wear anything besides big, chunky cardigans and padded coats. Let’s face it, during autumn and winter, the majority of us prefer to dress for warmth and comfort more than anything else, which is why so many of us neglect our sense of style during the cooler months - and seeing as there are now so many fab fashion staples to choose from, this is a real shame!

So, if like so many others you’ll layer up just about anything and everything in an attempt to stay warm, I’m here to give you some expert fashion advice so that you can stay cosy, all whilst looking super chic and stylish!

So, as I’ve already said, staying snuggly and warm is so important - especially in winter - which is why you should always dress appropriately when it’s cold. For an outfit that’ll serve you well every time, pull on some thick leggings and style with a chic, finely-knitted roll neck jumper. To tie this look together, pull on a pair of western ankle boots & add an extra layer of sophistication by throwing on a trendy trench coat. Gorgeous!

Camel Roll Neck Jumper
Camel Roll Neck Jumper
PU Side Panel Leggings Regular
PU Side Panel Leggings Regular
Guess Mini Alma Cross Body Bag
Guess Mini Alma Cross Body Bag
Helene Berman Snake Trench
Helene Berman Snake Trench
Elijah Western Boots Wide E Fit
Elijah Western Boots Wide E Fit

5. How to dress smart casual in spring and summer

Spring and summer style is all about those vibrant, floral prints, denim shorts, cute frilly tops and maxi dresses.


In summer especially, we like to regulate our temperatures by wearing lighter fabrics that encourage a cool flow of air to our bodies - and it feels so great to just enjoy the warmer weather! However, while spring/summer fashion is, without question, completely fabulous, creating smart/casual outfits that are just as comfy as they are chic, can prove a testing and rather tricky task…

But don’t worry - we're here to help.

For a stunning smart/casual outfit that will work great during spring and summer, pull on a pair of wide leg culottes and tuck a white blouse into the waistline. To tie things together, slip on some wedges and accessorise with a cute waist belt. For added glamour and a look that’s sure to put you in the spotlight, apply a lick of pink lipstick and get ready to pucker up!

Ugg Camilla Suede Bow Espadrille Wedge
Ugg Camilla Suede Bow Espadrille Wedge
Animal Print Wide Leg Culottes
Animal Print Wide Leg Culottes
Monsoon Zinnia Short Sleeve Blouse
Monsoon Zinnia Short Sleeve Blouse
Rose Gold Shimmer Jeans Belt
Rose Gold Shimmer Jeans Belt
L'Oreal Paris Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick Strike A Rose
L'Oreal Paris Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick Strike A Rose

For more culottes style inspiration, be sure to check out our post ‘How To Wear Culottes’ - there are tons of fabulous outfit ideas here!

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