I was having a think about men's smart casual dress and how to define it. Well that was too hard, so instead I decided to resort to pictures of what I see as the three main kinds of relaxed smart casual dress (SCD).
The three kinds of SCD are easy to capture based on the upper body garment.
1. With a jacket
2. With a knit or cardigan
3. With a shirt often untucked
Without a doubt, a look with a jacket is the smartest of the three looks.
A jacket adds presence and says I care about my look enough to add a final layer.
Dress the look down with a more casual style of jacket or a leather (or even a denim jacket).
TIP: If you're wearing jeans with a denim jacket, make sure the shades/washes of denim are different - otherwise you'll look too matchy matchy.
Dont forget that jackets can be unlined fine cotton with no shoulder pads - very relaxed, not stuffy & smart. Jude Law's grey version (top 2nd from the right, above) is a great example.
Knit or cardigan:
No longer reserved for grandpa, this look tends to be a moneyed look.
Knits look super classy as long as they are looked after.
#1: Removing pilling either by hand or by one of those little battery operated devices.
#2: Drying & storing them flat so they dont loose their shape.
#3: Protecting from moths & silverfish while in storage especially the wools and cashmeres. For some reason the critters have very good taste and will attack these best fibres.
#4: Dark cottons need to be washed gently in tepid water and not left to dry in the sun. Nevertheless, they will lose their colour and once this happens, its bye bye cotton sweater.
#5: Wools and cashmeres should be washed in tepid water with either shampoo or wool wash.
#6: Knits must never be wrung - just gently squeezed dry.
Use the gym
Knits require a fit body as they leave little to the imagination.
If layering (very cool), like brad Pitt above, always put the finer knit underneath & the heavier knit on top.
Want to project an air of nonchalance?
Throw a sweater over the shoulders of your jacket, like David Beckham has done here......
Shirt, often untucked:
Definitely the most casual of the looks but you can vary the level of sophistication using a number of techniques:
#1: Checked shirts are generally more casual than plain shirts.
#2: A sneaker is more casual than a smart leather shoe.
#3: Jeans are more casual than chinos which are more casual than pants. But dark jeans are dressier than light coloured washes.
Unfortunately most men have weight around their tummy and tucking in a shirt into their pants, with a smart belt is too much to ask for.
TIP: Leaving the shirt open (with a sweater or tee underneath) is even more casual, but helps to hide any tummy bulk by providing two vertical lines over the tummy (being the shirt edges).
Which of these three looks does your man typically wear for smart casual affairs?