While some relish the dress-down summers of the City, others fear the stress that goes into putting an outfit together to conform with this undefinable dress code. Here are a few ways to keep it simple and stress-free.
With smart being the operative word, it’s important to make sure whatever you wear is well-pressed and well-presented. Smart-casual does not mean wearing a creased shirt with suit trousers and scuffed shoes.
Don’t wear a suit jacket with jeans. I see this a lot in the City and it doesn’t work. If you must wear jeans, wear with a smart shirt and a fitted or unstructured blazer/casual jacket.
Do think Italian. A summer suit, in a linen-wool mix in a lighter colour (eg. Not charcoal or navy) with a pressed open white shirt is stylish, undeniably smart and not corporate. On top of this you can wear the jacket and the trousers separately to create other smart-casual outfits, which you can’t do with a business suit.
Do invest in a decent pair of brown shoes. Matte leather is less formal than polished, and suede is a good alternative to both. Something like Derbies tick the box and are more comfortable than conventional brogues.
Don’t be afraid of patterns. A checked blazer makes the outfit look more casual, and avoids the issue of looking like you’re wearing your suit jacket. It’s also easier to match up with trousers as a checked blazer is allowed to clash slightly, it doesn’t have to match the trousers to look stylish.
Don’t over-do the patterns. If in doubt, keep it simple. A lot of men I’ve seem think smart-casual is a checked shirt, patterned blazer and even a patterned tie. Start with either a patterned shirt or blazer.
Do embellish. Adding a pocket square to casual jacket with a plain open neck shirt gives your outfit that finishing touch without becoming to formal. If you love wearing a tie and don’t feel comfortable without one, that’s fine. Try a knitted or flannel tie - something with texture to break away from the norm without leaving your comfort zone.
Do invest in signature pieces. A plain blazer, a patterned blazer, 3-4 pairs of chinos or light-weight trousers, and a handful of shirts is all you need to create a dozen different outfits.
Remember the way you wear your clothes is as important as the clothes you wear. “Smartness is more a matter of the appearance of your clothes rather than their style,” writes Sir Hardy Amies in A-Z of Style.