Smart Casual Style Guide For Men: Time to Upgrade Your Look

One of the most common questions we get here at Hidalgo Brothers is, “What is smart casual style?” Keep reading to know more.

This style is likely one of the trickiest to decipher even for the most fashion-savvy and sartorially astute man. That’s probably because “smart casual” is pretty much oxymoronic.

It is that dress code no one wants to see on their invitation, but everyone is obliged to interpret for themselves.

What should you wear?

It is neither boardroom-formal nor beach-casual; perhaps it falls somewhere between.

Considering that this style is becoming increasingly popular, you might want to better understand its mystery.

Let’s crack the code together!

What is Smart Casual?

So, how do you make sense of the gulf between opposing words like “smart” and “casual”?

A smart-casual style is a perfect blend of dressy and laid-back. It is a style that has been adopted by men who want to look their best without having to put in too much effort. It represents those who want to create the transition between work and play. Smart casual is elegant yet comfortable and versatile.

This style means different things to different people, giving room for multiple interpretations, but certain items are universally accepted as part of a smart-casual wardrobe. It is about nailing the perfect balance, which usually means avoiding anything too extreme in either direction.

The key is to put together a stylish and appropriate look for the occasion. With that in mind, let’s see why this style has become so popular in recent years.

The Rise of the Smart Casual Style

In a world where work and play are increasingly blurring together, smart casual has become the go-to dress code for men.

This style allows you to dress up or down, depending on the occasion. It is perfect for those who want to be stylish but don’t want to feel constricted by too much formality.

It also gives you a lot of flexibility, mixing and matching different items to create multiple looks for various occasions.

As the more dressy side of the casual style, it provides you with an easy way to look polished and put-together without going too far outside your comfort zone.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why so many men turn to smart casual as their go-to style.

Let’s dive into where you can wear this style.

Where and When Can You Wear Smart Casual?

The short answer is that tahe smart casual style should be the default choice for anyone looking to err on the side of caution. It is a style that can be worn in most situations where you want to look suave without going full formal. It’s a dress code that can take you from the office to the bar with friends without changing your clothes.

Here are some occasions where smart casual would be appropriate:

  • A first date
  • A casual business meeting
  • A family event
  • A night out with friends
  • A relaxed wedding reception.

If you’re unsure of what to wear, smart casual is always a safe bet, as it is malleable enough to be appropriate for many occasions.

It is worth mentioning that some occasions are a little too dressy for this style, for example, a black-tie event. In such cases, you will do well to go with a more formal look like a bespoke suit.

Now that we’ve established when to leverage this style, let’s look at some essential items and tips to get it right.

How to Nail the Smart Casual Style

Considering the above, you have probably guessed that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the smart casual style can be adapted to fit a range of different personalities and occasions.

However, there are some essential items that should form the foundation of any smart-casual wardrobe. These are the staples that you can mix and match to create multiple looks. They include:

  1. A well-fitting pair of denim jeans or chinos

A few pairs of slim-fit jeans or chinos are a must for any man’s wardrobe, as they are a versatile item that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

  1. A tailored blazer

A well-fitting blazer is a must for any man looking to nail the smart casual style. It is the perfect way to add a touch of sophistication to any outfit and is an essential item for creating multiple looks.

  1. A polo T-shirt

A polo T-shirt is one of the most important building blocks of this dress code. Just remember that the fit is king – you want something that is not too baggy or too tight.

  1. A quality pair of shoes

A good pair of shoes is essential for any man hoping to achieve a smart casual look. Choose a classic style like brogues or loafers for a more formal look, or opt for sneakers or Chelsea boots for a more relaxed vibe.

  1. A sweater or cardigan

A sweater or cardigan is a great way to add an extra layer of warmth to any outfit. It’s also an excellent way to inject some personality into your appearance.

  1. A classic Oxford shirt

Oxford shirts are versatile items that work all year round. They are a reliable addition to your wardrobe, as they seamlessly fit various occasions.

  1. Accessories

Accessories are a great way to add personality to an outfit and help you express your unique style. Be sure to pick appropriate accessories for the occasion – a pair of sunglasses or a fedora hat can add a touch of cool to any outfit, while a watch or cufflinks can add a touch of class.

The above items are just a starting point, so feel free to experiment with different things to find what works for you. But what about what you should not wear?

Please avoid the following items:


  • Sportswear such as tracksuits, sweatpants, or jerseys
  • Hoodies
  • Shorts (unless it’s for a very casual occasion)
  • Worn-out T-shirts
  • Sagging pants
  • Flip-flops
  • Thongs, etc.


Here are some tips on how to put together a smart casual look:

  • Start with a simple base
  • Always find the right fit
  • Avoid loud colours, aim for classic and muted tones
  • Keep it simple and avoid over-complicating your look
  • Impart your personality
  • Consider the occasion

The bottom line is that smart casual is about feeling comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. So, experiment with different items and find what works for you. And most importantly, have fun with it!

You can always rely on the Hidalgo Brothers to up your style game by tailoring the perfect feeling. Get in touch with us for more information.