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Work Dress Code: how to pull off the ‘Smart Casual’ look!

Work dress codes are hated and loved. It’s nice to know you can create a look based on a theme, but it’s also quite difficult. ‘Smart casual’ is a widely used work dress code description but tends to leave room for confusion. Smart casual has become a staple look for many of us – wanting to impress but keep things on the low-key side. It’s the dress code for everything – from work to the weekend.

Dressing smart-casual? Here’s some tips…

Its all about finding the balance between smart and casual. Not too smart, yet not too casual. Combine your classic essentials with your casual favourites, making sure your finished look is appropriate and professional.

Work Dress Code

Some Do’s and Don’ts for work dress code:


– Keep it simple – classic prints and patterns in combination with classic styles.

– Smart trainers and flats will give an otherwise smart outfit a casual feeling.

– Give a suit the smart casual treatment by dressing it down with a t-shirt / polo shirt / ditch the blazer.

– Leave the tie at home.

– Unsure? If you’re in any doubt, it’s always better to be more on the smart side than the casual one.


– Worn denim or dirty trainers etc.

– Over-the-top accessories.

– Too much of anything: short skirts and dresses, deep necklines, high heels, details, sparkles and studs.

– Logos and overt branding.

– Avoid rips and bold patterns, keep it subtle.

What you need in your smart casual wardrobe…

A blazer

The staple jacket of the smart casual look. Great for wearing open over a t-shirt in the office. Also roll up the blazer sleeves, nothing says chilled like a rolled-up blazer sleeve!


Smart casual shoes span across a range of styles. Loafers are great for business settings, in brown or tan shades. You can get away with trainers, but darker shades and leather materials are best instead of your usual gym shoe style.


Shirts are still a good call.  Avoid big logos especially sports and potentially offensive slogans – but you can get away with a small logo.


You can swap a shirt for a t-shirt, if you’re wearing a tailored jacket or blazer. However, this needs to be plain and good quality to pass the smart casual test.


A plain jumper is a great alternative to a shirt. Don’t be afraid to dabble in colour – while navy and grey are great for smarter or business occasions, for everyday smart casual looks a bold red or a vibrant green are good choices.


Work Dress Code

Your accessories can make or break a look. Jewellery is great way to spice up a plain outfit, or maybe just a watch to be as professional as possible. Sunglasses are ideal for slipping into pockets or add a leather belt for a put together look.

And there you have it. Your own personal guide for what to wear when smart casual is confusing you! Use these tips in a job interview, meeting or in your everyday life ( work dress code or not ).  Whether you’re a fan of T-shirts, chinos, shirts, jeans or good old-fashioned knitwear, there’s going to be a way for you to dress them up or down by simply following all our tips. Good luck!

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