October 5, 2022

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Are Jeans and Business Casual Polo Shirts Smart?

Some people think that jeans and a business casual polo shirt constitute smart casual attire, but what do you think? Is it an accurate description, or does it fail to live up to the expectations of this classification? To find out for sure, read on for all you need to know about smart casual clothes.

What is Smart Casual Attire? 

Smart casual attire is meant to be less formal than dress clothes – more laid back. The main indicator of smart casual dress is the shirt – if your top half is covered in some sort of collard-shirt-buttons type garment then you’re good. You can, however, wear a polo shirt – it’s just that a collared shirt tends to make you look more dressed up.

What is Not Smart Casual? 

You’re not going to look smart casual in a suit – that’s just as formal as wearing a tuxedo. Nor are you going to be smart casual in sneakers and jeans. It’s just not going to work. If you find yourself confused about what does and does not constitute smart casual, then your best bet is to go with the collared shirt + jeans ensemble and go from there. Image courtesy of StyleMyWay.com

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How Smart Casual Attire Geography Works? 

In the UK you can really wear whatever you want as long as it’s collared and casual. There are also several other countries that have similar dress codes (e.g., Australia, US, Canada) but they vary widely in terms of detail. If a shirt is long enough to cover your bottom half then it’s acceptable, but if it’s shorter – say mid-thighs or above – then cover your bottom half up with some sort of cardigan or trench coat and you’re good to go. It’s really not that hard, so long as you get the collared shirt part right.

How to Dress Smart Casual? 

You’ll need a shirt (obviously), a pair of jeans, and then it all depends on how formal you want to look. You can go ball cap + polo, which is very casual and looks good in warmer climates or you can go with a cardigan or jacket if you’re going for something more dressy. Once you know what constitutes smart casual attire, putting together outfits comes naturally. Follow these tips and your smart casual wardrobe will be top-notch in no time! Image courtesy of StyleMyWay.com

Isn’t smart casual simply dressier? If one wears a collared shirt with a suit, is it not a smart casual outfit? 

No, smart casual is meant to be more casual than your typical ‘dressy’ look, but that doesn’t mean you’ll look unprepared in jeans and a button down. In fact, polo shirts in particular fit right into the assortment of collared shirts, so long as they aren’t too “dressed up” (think pre-tailored Oxford cloth).

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I work in the city and everything I wear gets dirty. Is it too formal to wear jeans and a polo shirt because of this?

No, unless it’s a business casual dress code where your shirt has to be tucked in or you have to keep your hands tucked in your pockets the entire time. If you’re wearing a collared shirt with jeans then go for it. So long as people see you move and hear you talk, that’s all that really matters . . . you’ll be the judge of how smart casual your ensemble is.

What rule do I follow for polo shirts? 

Avoid the pre-tailored, button-down variety and you’ll be fine. Go for something that’s not too cut, like Adidas’ Essentials line (see image to the right) and you’ll fit right in with a collared shirt. Polo shirts also have a bit more room than dress shirts so long as they’re not ‘fitted.

Conclusion

Smart casual attire is essentially dressed up, but not too dressy. It’s not business casual, which is more formal. If you’re unsure whether something constitutes smart casual attire or business casual attire then it’s best to err on the side of caution and go with smart casual, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can always give business casual a try, depending on what your workplace dress code entails.