Knowing how to dress smart-casual can be a real struggle for a lot of guys. 

We’ve heard the phrase ‘dress smart-casual’ before, but when it comes to dressing the part, we’re often left stumped. What constitutes smart-casual wear? Are dress-shirts too formal? Or are your basic t-shirts simply not good enough?

Let’s clear a few things up. Ready to learn how to dress smart-casual? Here are 7 essential items to keep your wardrobe charged and ready for any special occasion. 

What Does Smart-Casual Mean?

Let’s start things off with the basics - what does smart-casual mean? 

Smart-casual wear is a dress-code that reflects and combines casual clothing with well-dressed, or smart, components. It’s a level down from business-casual or professional, but your outfit should still be neat and well-fitting. 

Man in blue blazer and patterned shirt with hand on face | Style Standard

How To Dress Smart-Casual | 7 Essentials Items 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the good stuff. Here are 7 essential items for your smart-casual wardrobe. 

  • Chinos 
  • First and foremost, what you're going to need in your smart-casual wardrobe is a set of chinos

    They’re stylish, yet comfortable - and prove to be a very versatile piece of clothing. They’re easy to dress up with your favorite button-up shirts and blazers for those smart-casual events. Some of the easiest colours to style and match will be dark beige or navy.

    Before you know it, your chinos will become one of the most reliable elements of your wardrobe. 

  • A Blazer 
  • A blazer will often make a great addition to your smart-casual outfit - pairing well with a pair of chinos or dark denim jeans. It’s a great way to set yourself apart amongst the crowd and breath more elegance into your ensemble. For a piece that’s easy to style, opt for a navy or grey-colored blazer. 

    Remember, a high-grade blazer is one of those pieces that will last you the long haul - it’s worth investing in a stylish, yet durable one. 

    Man with goatee in red blazer, green chinos, and light striped shirt leaning against a wall and checking his phone | Style Standard
  • Dress Shirts
  • When it comes to filling-out your smart-casual attire, you simply can’t overlook the value of a well-fitted dress shirt. They couldn’t be easier to style and match with other aspects of your wardrobe - matching well with a pair of chinos or denim jeans. For a laid-back look, you can even roll up the sleeves. 

    That being said, styling your dress shirts is only as easy as the colours you choose. White and light-blue is a great starting point - they’re versatile colours that work well with a variety of combinations. Though if you’re looking to shake things up, try a darker navy or even a patterned dress shirt.

  • Belt 
  • It may sound insignificant at first glance, though the belt you choose will often be the focus of your smart-casual outfit - especially if you’re tucking in your shirt. So, it’s important to have a clean, stylish piece at your disposal. 

    Mis-matching the belt can draw attention for all the wrong reasons. So, be sure to choose a simple belt that compliments the colour of your shoes and aligns with the other metals on your suit. 

    These stylish Webbed Belts are a great addition to any smart-casual wardrobe. With up to 25 colours to choose from, matching your belt with the rest of your ensemble couldn’t be easier. 

    Man in light jacket and dark clothes hailing a NYC taxi on the side of the road | Style Standard
  • Leather Shoes
  • A pair of stylish shoes can round-out your entire look - when they’re chosen right. Leave those thongs or sneakers at home and reach for a pair of tasteful leather shoes. 

    The easiest colours to match with your outfit would be a black or brown set of leather shoes - particularly because they’ll work with most colour combinations and are easy to match with your belt. Though if you’re feeling more ambitious, try a pair of dark blue or burgundy shoes. 

  • Wrist-Watch 
  • Now that we’ve covered all the essential clothing items, let’s focus on the accessories - starting with a fashionable wrist-watch. 

    A timepiece isn’t only practical, but when it’s styled with the rest of your outfit, it can add a sense of consistency - tying your whole outfit together. For example, you can match your watch-strap with your belt or shoes. Attention to these smaller details can take your attire to the next level. 

    If you’re on the hunt for a wrist-watch, take a look at The Oliver by Curated Basics. Made from stainless steel and with Japanese quartz movement - the design is uncluttered, minimal, and can add a sense of elegance to any outfit. 

  • Pocket Square
  • To add a touch of colour and personality to your attire, you can’t go wrong with a simple pocket square. Though for smart-casual events, it’s best to keep it simple - plain colours and straight-forward folds are all you’ll need. 

    Chasing a convenient, easy-to-use accessory? Check out this Cheater Pocket Square - made from 100% polyester and cardstock. Getting a clean, straight edge on your pocket square has never been so simple. 

    With these 7 essential items by your side, dressing for your next smart-casual outing couldn’t be easier. Though if you’re looking for even more ways to upgrade your everyday wardrobe, be sure to read our recent post: ‘12 Men’s Wardrobe Essentials That Every Man Should Have.’