What Does Dressing Smart/Casual Actually Mean?

Ask Alex Guides & Information

‘Smart/casual’ is the single worst dress code in the world. We’ve all felt panic before: reaching into your pocket to get your phone out and finding it empty; seeing a spider crawl under your bed as you’re about to go to sleep. But nothing can compare to being told you have to wear ‘smart casual’. 

No one knows what it means. No one. It’s excruciatingly vague and is enough to make you want to stay at home and watch Netflix in your dressing gown instead of going to the party.
I’m pretty much as baffled as you are. However, we have seen a real influx of offices reverting to the dreaded ‘smart/caj’ recently and customers are losing their minds, so I thought I’d compile a list (who knew?) of styles and features that make your smart shoes a bit more… casual. What more could you ask of me?

1. Material
Suede is more casual. It’s also lovely to wear and very easy to take care of. Anyone who tells you that suede is in any way fragile is wrong; all you have to do is brush it and spray it with a nourishment and protection spray. Easy.

Harry ll Tassel Loafer in Fox Suede

Grain leather, or any kind of embossed leather like it, is also a bit more casual and disguises creasing over time – it certainly lends itself to more country-inspired footwear because of that.

2. Colour
Probably the easiest way to make your outfit look less formal is ditching black shoes. Wearing navy trousers? Try a dark brown or burgundy. Lighter coloured chinos? A nice dark leaf or chestnut tones in very nicely.

Remember: the only rule here is to have your shoes darker than your trousers. But look, if they’re not and you still look good, then don’t let me stop you.

Moulton Monk Shoe in Mink Suede

3. Style
Boots give any outfit a rugged casual look, plus they come in a variety of formalities. Brogues are more casual by nature (a brown brogue will go with almost anything), as are monkstraps and derbies. Push the boat out. You’ve got loads to choose from!

4. Accessories
Is that smart/casual enough for you? No?! Well then. Let’s move up from the shoes… but not very far. Life is too short for boring socks, so jazz it up a bit with some bold prints, textures or whatever pattern takes your fancy. We have a wide selection of Pantherella socks so there’s no excuse for boring, mundane foot-covers. Sort it.

Left to right: Pantherella Hamada Mens Light Beige Linen Ribbed Socks, Pantherella Pembrey Light Pink Mens Sea Island Cotton RIbbed Socks, Pantherella Moulton Light Denim Mix Mens Socks

Again, this is entirely up to you, but the only thing I will say is… please wear a matching pair. Guys wearing odd socks makes me confused and disappointed in equal measure. You’re not 6. If you’re feeling bold, swap out your laces with a colourful pair, maybe highlighting a colour somewhere in your outfit.

There you go. Easy. Can’t help you with anything else, but shoes are the most important part of any outfit so you’re almost set to take on the most annoying of dress codes.

Suits/Blazers by Harvie & Hudson SS19 Collection, Shoes Style ‘Moulton’ in Mink Suede and Brown Suede