4 MIN. READ
Everyone is itching to get back into life. Many of you are wondering if you can take your bulky sweat pants, ratty t-shirts and house slippers with you. The answer is a resounding no. Today’s on-trend man steps out in smart casual attire. A combination of casual and dressy, the smart casual style is all about comfort and flexibility.
Chances are good that you already own some pieces of clothing that create the base of a smart casual outfit. What better reason to get back out in the world than to go shopping for the remaining pieces to top off your look?
What is smart casual?
The smart casual style is elegant, classy and, above all, comfortable. It combines pieces that you probably already have in your wardrobe in new and different ways. Blend formal clothes with casual clothes to leave you with a fresh appearance that is ready to take you anywhere you want to go.
Trends come and go. But smart casual’s combination of comfort and class ensures that it is one look that’s here to stay.
Smart casual can be used for casual, business casual, formal or everyday wear, depending on your tastes and the combinations you choose. Keep the location in mind when dressing for smart casual. Items that will work for an informal beachfront cocktail party will not work well for a formal wedding in Alaska.
When in doubt, ask the host what dress code he or she has in mind. If the wedding is truly formal, it calls for a tuxedo, especially if it is followed by an evening reception. Smart casual is not acceptable in this scenario. Remember, you and the other guests will feel more relaxed if you are slightly overdressed than extremely underdressed.
Essential smart casual items
Several pieces that are likely already in your wardrobe can combine to form the smart casual look:
Denim jeans and chinos
Your jeans should be dark wash and straight-legged. This dressy look pairs well with other more elegant items to form the smart casual style. However, chinos are a perfect substitute for dark wash jeans. They change the entire outfit, even if the top and accessories remain the same. Go for chinos in khaki, navy or beige as they will provide the most versatility. “Ike” by Ike Behar offers an excellent assortment of high-quality chinos to serve as the base of your smart casual outfit.
A crisp, white, long-sleeved shirt
If the weather is warm, you can roll the cuffs. The collar should fit equally well either buttoned or unbuttoned. From white, branch out to other easy-to-match colors such as blue, pink and lavender. You can even add a little texture to your shirt to make it more casual. Just be certain that the other items in your outfit lean more to the “smart” side of smart casual. Many shirts in the Ike Behar collection meet these criteria perfectly.
A well-fitted blazer
This piece definitely adds some of the “smart” to smart casual. Again, begin with the basics such as an unstructured navy blazer. Add a little more “casual” to the look by choosing a blazer with a sharp lining. Roll the blazer sleeves to match the tailored shirt sleeves. One word of caution with this approach – make sure that the lining on the blazer doesn’t clash with the shirt’s pattern. You wouldn’t want green and yellow paisley lining bordering the cuff of a purple shirt.
Shoes and accessories
Oxfords add to the “smart.” High-end casual shoes add to the “casual.” You can always meet somewhere in the middle of the two with Ike Behar’s John Chelsea boot. This boot has all of the class of a well-polished Oxford combined with the comfort of a well-worn sneaker. In addition to the shoes, how you choose to accessorize your outfit expresses your personality. Are you a timeless, classy sort of guy sporting a brown leather belt? Or do you prefer to march to the beat of your own drum, wearing aviator sunglasses and a chronograph?
Smart casual style dos and don’ts
Remember that “casual” is not the same thing as “sloppy.” Smart casual may include a fitted t-shirt under an unstructured blazer. It doesn’t include a torn, stained, wrinkled t-shirt under an unstructured blazer.
Also, remember that “smart” is not the same thing as “branded.” Your individual pieces should speak for themselves in their material, tailoring and style. They don’t need to have brand names printed in block letters across your chest.
While you can mix and match fabrics, such as wearing a crisp, cotton shirt with a woolen blazer, you shouldn’t mix and match seasons. Tying a knitted scarf around your neck in the heat of summer doesn’t make you smart casual. It simply makes you way too warm.
In keeping with the “smart” part, large pockets are a no-no. No cargo pants and no jungle jackets unless you are really going on a safari. Your outfit should be simple and streamlined, yet interesting.
If smart casual seems ambiguous, then you understand the style! It lacks the formality of a tuxedo, the rigid stance of a business suit, and the slouchy look of torn jeans and sneakers. Instead, it combines elements of all of these looks into a harmonious, streamlined, comfortable blend that is uniquely you.
Browse Ike Behar to find some inspirational pieces that can add to your smart casual style.