Smart Casual Dress Code: Menswear Mystery

“The smart casual dress code remains one of the most misunderstood terms in the menswear lexicon” as recently mentioned in Esquire.

And we couldn’t agree more. Gone are the days of dresswear, workwear, sportswear, and loungewear. As you can see, they were fairly clear about the intended use.

Now there are layers to this thing called fashion. An example are the various types of casual: smart casual, dressy casual, neat casual, plain casual, and - what our partners like to call us - too casual.

Today we’ll be running through the casual loins of smart casual. I know you’re thinking, “Yea’re making this term up.”

We promise you we’re not. This may be the style infusion you needed to add some effortless cool into your wardrobe.

What Does Smart Casual Dress Code Mean?

Here’s our non-scientific definition: a nice blend of informality and handsome wear.

Think everyday casual with a touch of class. The snazzy guy that rolled out of bed looking like he was ready to roll.

It’s the perfect blend of dress and street wear. Blazers and minimal sneakers. Denim and loafers. Merino sweaters, oxfords, and Red Wings.

One of the best smart casual icons is Canada’s poster boy Ryan Reynolds. Never too dressed up but never slouchy, he’s one of the smartest casual men we’ve ever seen.

How to Pull Off the Smart Casual Look

Pulling off the smart casual look is effortless once you assemble the right wardrobe. Mixing and matching, swapping this for that - the possibilities are endless.

Invest in Blazers

Blazers are slightly looser than your typical suit jacket. Perfect for layering with a merino sweater and oxford shirt.

Since they don’t have matching pants like their suited cousin, you can wear blazers with a wide variety of bottoms.

Want to lean into your smartness? Wear some chinos for a great ivy league look.

Is today a more casual day, maybe with some errands to run? Throw on some jeans and be the sharpest dad (or dad lookalike).

There are options for all times of the year. Consider lighter wools, linens and cottons for summer. Heavy wools and tweed for fall.

To Collar or Not to Collar

Your degree of smart casualness depends on where you plan on going.

Put on your blazer with an oxford and chinos for a semi-professional setting. Think Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate”.

If it’s the summer time you can don a polo and sport coat to get a smart ‘60s Brit Mod look.

On the flipside, if you’re meeting a partner's parents for the first time, that same blazer will look sharp with a cardigan, plain tee, and denim.

Those options, though completely different, fall within the spectrum of smart casual.

Speaking of denim and chinos...

Cover Your Ass(ets): Chinos or Jeans?

Why not both? The genius of the blazer is that you’re always teetering on informal-but-formal.

You can choose between casual jeans or classic chinos. Opt for a darker denim to maintain a clean look that will equally find a home with Chuck Taylors or wingtips.

Chinos, with their refined style, can be in a variety of colours depending on the season and your ensemble. To make your chinos a bit more casual, feel free to finish your outfit in your favourite pair of Red Wings.

Why is dressing Smart Casual So Great?

Dressing in a smart casual way gives you the ability to look sharp without having to reach for a suit.

*GASP* We know, isn’t it counter-intuitive to be talking about non-suit options when we’ve been supplying men with affordable suits for over 100 years?

Not quite. We believe in making you look great, whatever that looks like. We have a great assortment of casual wear to complement the suits we’re known for.

Suits aren’t for everyone and smart casual gives men the flexibility to look and feel their best. Check out our current selection online or swing by one of our locations across Canada!

Back to the Gentleman’s Journal Next Article