Smart casual look – what should be considered with the dress code?

Smart casual dresscode-women-men

A dress code determines the dress code for an event and is increasingly being asked for at various events. This ensures that one or the other guest does not appear under- or overdressed. The smart casual dress code has become much more important in recent years and is often confused with business casual. What does “Smart Casual” actually mean? What do men and women wear with this dress code? What are the dos and don’ts with such an outfit? We reveal the answers to these and other questions in the article!

What is smart casual??


In German, “Smart Casual” is literally translated as “elegantly informal”, so it’s easy to be mistaken. So it is not a question of completely informal clothing, but rather a casual business outfit that is usually worn at table parties with colleagues or business trips. With this dress code, it is important to find the golden mean between sportiness and elegance without overstepping the boundaries.

smart casual womens rock shirt

The smart casual dress code is not only used for official invitations, but is also often chosen for a drink or dinner with colleagues after work. In young, dynamic companies, for example in the advertising industry, this look is also perfect as office wear. In this case, however, it is important that you do not dress more elegantly than the boss and at the same time do not appear more casual than your colleagues. With such companies you can express your personality with a more creative outfit, but you also have to adapt to the appropriate work environment.

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In general, an “outfit different than at work” is the most important requirement for this dress code. So you can’t wear the same clothes that you wear to work on a day-to-day basis. Above all, pay attention to non-professional clothing that is smart, i.e. elegant and pleasing. For example, if you are invited to a garden party, then you are certainly right with smart casual as upscale casual clothing.

The smart casual dress code for men


The look for men demands a perfect balance between casualness and elegance. Although the clothes should be casual, there is no need to leave out the suit. The best combination for this dress code is exactly one suit, for example made of cotton, poplin or cord, in combination with an open shirt without a tie. A contrasting pocket square can be used in place of the tie. So the entire outfit looks smarter and expresses a certain elegance.

smart casual look men suit

When choosing a suit, you should pay particular attention to muted colors and darker tones. It is best combined with a long-sleeved shirt that is either plain or with a subtle pattern. If you like it a bit more conspicuous, you can wear a playful, patterned shirt under the monochrome suit and thus add an accent to your outfit. With the smart casual look, however, you should show inconspicuous elegance, so it is better not to overdo it with patterns and bright colors.

smart-casual-dresscode-men’s tie

In contrast to the business casual dress code, the tie is usually left out with a smart casual look. However, you can still wear them if you want, if you follow a few simple rules. We therefore recommend models and patterns that are as discreet as possible and do not make the look too “official” or “business”. In the colder months, a tie can be hidden under a matching sweater and the dress code is adhered to.


Regardless of whether it is part of an entire suit or as a complement to chic jeans or trousers, a jacket or blazer is one of the basics of the smart casual look. However, the jacket should definitely be worn over a long-sleeved shirt. So T-shirts and polo shirts are not allowed. The exact outfit with this dress code also depends on the weather and the exact event. So at a garden party in summer you can possibly do without the jacket and simply wear an open shirt and elegant trousers.


For a casual, yet elegant look, you should opt for high-quality trousers. This can be part of an entire suit, but you are definitely right with flannel trousers, chinos and corduroy trousers. So the suit itself is not a must. You can also wear jeans for the smart casual look, but there are some restrictions. The jeans with this dress code should be dark blue and by no means wrinkled or too loose. Above all, clothing should look new, which is why denim jeans are undesirable.


Regardless of whether the trousers fit perfectly or not, an elegant belt is always part of the right outfit for this dress code. As far as footwear is concerned, laced leather men’s shoes such as Derbies or Brogues are ideal for a smart casual look. Of course, they’re not the only option. You can also combine the outfit with classic leather loafers or elegant sneakers in dark colors. Absolute no-go’s when it comes to shoes are sneakers and leather boots. To round off the outfit, matching stockings are worn with the trousers.


The choice of colors is particularly important for the complete smart casual look. The motto of the dress code is understatement, so inconspicuous colors are the best decision. Both pants and blazers and shirts are meant. For a successful look for autumn and winter, the shirt can be replaced by a turtleneck sweater made of fine material such as cashmere. Alternatively, you can wear a V-neck or round neck sweater over your shirt as part of the dress code.

smart casual men look jeans

Once you have found the perfect outfit, you can now put the finishing touches to your look. With the smart casual dress code, the accessories should round off the entire look, but still not attract too much attention. For men, an elegant wrist watch and the ring are sufficient. However, depending on the outfit, you can add cufflinks to your look. You don’t need more than accessories.

The smart casual look for women


And what do women actually wear in smart casual? This dress code is not as strict for women as it is for men. The woman has several options for a suitable outfit and there are significantly more combinations to choose from. In general, they should dress tastefully and elegantly, similar to those in the office. You just can’t go wrong with a dark pantsuit with a light blouse or a costume. Subtle patterns are also possible and ensure a casual look.


Pants of all kinds, such as chinos or business pants, are particularly popular for this look. Above all, they shouldn’t be too loose and look elegant. You can either combine the trousers with a matching blouse and blazer, or opt for a shirt and sweater combination. Always pay attention to muted colors and color combinations. So a mixed mess of colors and different patterns is completely inadmissible.

smart casual womens skirt shirt pattern

Most women always feel good and especially feminine in a skirt. That is why the skirt is considered a good variant for almost every dress code. Skirts are of course also allowed in smart casuals if they are not shorter than a hand’s breadth above your knee. They can be combined with blouses, shirts and even T-shirts and should always be worn with a matching pair of shoes. The pleated skirt in combination with a nice blouse certainly creates the look.


An equally good combination for spring and summer are skirts with elegant sweaters. What is meant here is a sweater that is not too thick or too loose and has no prints or inscriptions. It should be color coordinated with the skirt so that both create an elegant overall picture. Tights are also required but can be left out in hot weather.

Note: If you decide on a sweater or a T-shirt with this dress code, you should always pay attention to high-quality materials and look.


The women can, however, dress a little more informally with this dress code. High-quality dark jeans combined with a beautiful blouse and a blazer as a top can be worn by women depending on the occasion and still be within the dress code. However, the jeans should by no means have tears or be too wide. You should also avoid a used look.

smart casual woman outfit jeans

As for outerwear, you should wear an elegant coat in the colder months. Leather jackets and parkas are not part of the smart casual look and should be left for leisure. In autumn and winter, blazers are considered the best outerwear.

The shoes that match this dress code are closed and not too high. Flat but elegant shoes such as ballerinas, moccasins or Chelsea boots are ideal for this and should be coordinated with the handbag if possible.

smart casual ladies denim blazer

Sometimes it’s easier to stick to a dress code when you know which clothes don’t go with the look. We have created a small list of no-go’s that should be avoided in smart casual outfits for women.

  • Striking patterned clothing
  • see-through blouses
  • crop tops
  • T-shirts, sweaters and blouses with print
  • light or wide jeans with tears or a used look
  • sporty shoes such as sneakers and sneakers
  • loose boots or leather boots with large buckles
  • Sandals and flip flops
  • oversized women’s bags


In contrast to men, women do not have to hold back when it comes to accessories for this dress code. Noble chains, fine bracelets and elegant wristwatches, as well as tasteful earrings round off the look of the woman. With the right jewelry, even casual clothing with jeans and a T-shirt can be upgraded immediately.