As a general rule of thumb, dressing smart casual can usually mean dressing comfortably but not too casual as what you’d wear for a quick grocery trip. It usually falls around as dressy as what you’d wear at an informal Sunday brunch with your parents to as casual as what you’d wear to a friend’s summer barbecue party.

If you’re still confused, it’s okay. Decoding what dressing smart casual means has been a struggle for women for decades. Anyway, here are a few tips on how to dress within the vague trappings of the smart casual dress code.

Quality jeans and top combo

A rather foolproof combo when dressing smart casual are a pair of good jeans with a nice modest top. Of course, different types and jean washes can communicate different things. Dark wash jeans can lend an outfit a more formal look while regular wash blue jeans are the perfect casual look. The same can be said of tops. Logically, blouses can be more formal and dressy than plain old cotton shirts. But as a general rule, keep the cleavage and skin-showing within modest territory. The smart in smart casual doesn’t really mean sexy and risqué.

Consider the occasion or event you’re going to

A smart casual dress code for an office picnic and a friend’s dinner party can look vastly different. The key to being a successful smart casual dresser is to be able to adapt the style for different occasions and events. You’ll probably be able to get away with a more relaxed look for the office picnic with a simple summer dress and a cardigan paired with flats while going for a more formal look for the dinner party with heels and a blazer.

Go for trousers

A good pair of trousers can be the most comfortable yet formal-looking piece of clothing you can own. You can easily dress them up or down by pairing them with different tops and shoes combinations. They also come in a variety of shapes and cuts. A pair of cropped or cigarette trousers in a dark color can never go wrong. Thus, they are a smart casual staple for women.

Learn to accessorize

Accessories are always a great way to transform outfits. Throwing on some silver and gold jewelry with a simple shirt can make it look more formal. Learn how to mix and match accessories such as necklaces, bracelets, belts, brooches and bags to achieve a smart casual look appropriate to the event you’re going to.
Clutches are a perfect choice for smart casual wear as they can look dressy and effortless at the same time. Meanwhile, belts and brooches can lend visual interest to a plain look and give your outfit a more polished look. Just be careful with going overboard by over accessorizing. Keep things simple and classy.

It can be hard to decode what the smart casual dress code exactly entails as it can mean different things for different places. The most important thing is to keep the particular occasion or event in mind and dress around it. After that you can mix and match casual and dressy clothing pieces from your wardrobe to come up with an appropriate yet stylish look. Wrap things up by learning to accessorize different look and you’re good to go.


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