Smart casual for business? Tips for men

Published 07/07/2016
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Most men run for the hills when they hear the words 'smart casual’. You’ve nailed the formal look, and you can do casual - but what the heck is that blurry bit in the middle all about? The trouble is, men simply don’t have as many clothing and accessory choices as women. That’s why it’s such a nightmare to get right. So if you’re struggling with the smart casual conundrum, here are 5 tips:

1. Go for quality

Lots of guys hear 'casual’ and forget about 'smart’. You know those jeans that already look 10 years old when you buy them? And the bargain basement T-shirt that’s actually a rag? That’s not smart casual. Quality is key. Get some high quality into your casual wardrobe and you’ll have an immediate head start.

2. Top and tail

Your neck and feet are the most important areas to get right. Let’s start with the shoes, because they broadcast all sorts of subliminal messages about you. The shoes may be casual, but whatever the occasion they have to be good quality and well maintained - otherwise, you’ll look underdressed.

Now for the top… You probably won’t be wearing a tie, but there should always be a collar, especially for work. Why? To protect your jugular vein. OK, that sounds bonkers. But the fact is, clothing that protects the neck gives you instant authority. If you’re sceptical, look back over the last 700 years. From the Tudor ruff through the Regency Cravat to the collar and tie, you’ll notice that powerful men in authority and leadership positions always have some form of neckwear. When in doubt, go for a polo shirt or rugby shirt. They’ll always deliver more muscle than a collarless T-shirt.

3. Colour and pattern

There are two types of smart casual. One’s for work and one’s for the weekend. The colour and pattern defines the difference. Basically, the darker the neutral colour the more formality you project. Lighter neutrals, bright colours and patterns are more informal. As an example, men who are `autumns’ could wear a dark olive green polo shirt for greater authority at work and a lighter olive maybe with a pattern for a weekend party. For 'winters’, burgundy or carmine red is authoritative for work, scarlet red brings a little fun to the weekend.

4. Always wear a good belt

Again, quality is key. Go for a good belt in a dark neutral that matches your trousers. At weekends you can make more of a statement – plaited or studded, cool buckles… Whatever fits your natural clothing personality. And talking of shiny stuff…

5. Don’t forget the watch

Accessories are rare for men, so make the most of your watch. First off, it’s best to steer clear of novelty watches – they signal that you don’t value time.

A good sports watch is great for the weekend - but you’ll never go wrong with a top quality, classy formal watch. It covers all the bases, and gives you a chance to express your own style.
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