A Complete Smart-Casual Dress Code in Pictures

There's a Lot to Smart-Casual Attire

Studio Portrait of a Smiling Young Man in a Red Jacket
••• Digital Vision. / Getty Images

A smart-casual dress code includes a variety of options for everyone. Smart-casual dress is a step up from business casual, but it is not as dressy as formal work attire.

The smart-casual look allows flexibility for personal taste in fashion and includes jackets, outfit-enhancing jewelry, dress pants, dress shirts, skirts, tailored sweaters, vests, ties, matching leather accessories, and leather pull-on shoes and boots.

Smart-casual dress codes are followed in workplaces such as academia and workplaces that serve customers but may not need to create the same strictly professional impression as those in fields such as law and finance.

Take a look at this gallery of smart-casual dress code ideas.

A Smart and Confident Look

Studio Portrait of a smiling young man in a red sport coat
Digital Vision. / Getty Images

This man's outfit is an excellent representation of a smart-casual dress code. With a textured jacket, his outfit is well-coordinated and appropriate for the office. His personal style and confidence shine through, enhancing his professionalism.

Tip

Cultivating your own personal style can help when it comes to deciding what to wear. If you've never thought about it before, take an inventory of your closet. Ask yourself which clothing items make you feel your best. Consider choosing a "signature" item. Personal style is all about confidence.

Sharp but Not Too Formal

Man dressed in sport coat, tie, and jeans
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This man's outfit is a great example of smart-casual dressing. With his sport coat, tie, and dress shirt, he looks pulled together and professional, which is a key part of dressing smart-casual. Jeans that are in great condition can help project a smart-casual, professional image even when the dress code is smart-casual.

The same type of ensemble could be worn by people of all genders. Dark-washed jeans with a dress shirt, jacket, and tie are a great combination for the workplace.

Stylish and Professional

Group of co-workers posing in smart-casual business wear
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In this example, the women are dressed slightly less formally than in a formal workplace. One wears a casual top with dress pants, another wears a stylish, sleeveless dress, and the third wears a jacket over her casual top.

The men are also dressed less formally for a smart-casual workplace. They wear light-colored suits with casual neckties, casual belts, and collared shirts.

Note

No matter your gender, you can find stylish clothes that are still professional. Sometimes, all it takes is planning a formal outfit and then removing one element to replace it with a more casual item.

Casual, Classy Comfort

Man dressed in a stylish sweater and nice pants at his desk
Stephen Marks / Getty Images

This man's semi-dressy sweater is another choice for men and women dressing smart-casual at work. It's a great color, and when paired with well-fitting, dressy pants, it's a high-quality and reliable look for a smart-casual dress code work environment.

Casual clothing items you can pair with more formal items include:

  • Nice jeans
  • Sweaters
  • Jackets or blazers
  • Blouses
  • Skirts
  • Dresses

Not Quite Formal

Group of well-dressed, happy co-workers looking at a computer
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These men and women are dressed attractively and professionally, an excellent embodiment of the smart-casual look. These men and women wear suits and a shirt with a tie.

Note

All of the outfits are slightly less formal than you would find in a formal dress workplace. They are professional and pulled together for the smart-casual look at work.

A Coordinated Look

Woman in dressy pants and scrunchy jacket
Maskot/Getty Images

This woman displays another smart-casual dress example. With a silk camisole and scrunched-arm jacket, her clothing coordinates well and looks professional. She complements her jacket with non-matching dress pants. She looks nicely put together for a smart-casual workplace.

People of all genders could experiment with similar styles. Find a jacket or blazer you like, and pair it with a casual or formal top underneath. Finally, top off the look with a pair of non-matching dress pants.

A Blend of Casual and Formal

Man dressed in a sport coat, denim shirt, and tie
mapodile/E+/Getty Images

The man in this image is dressed appropriately for a smart-casual dress code. For men and women, smart-casual dressing can often include textures such as tweed, corduroy, and suede. This man's sport coat coordinates nicely with a denim shirt and tie.

Tip

Another characteristic of smart-casual dressing, in contrast with the formality of black and navy blue in a formal dress code environment, is the prevalence of colors such as gray and brown.

Informal Suits

Group of co-workers dressed in informal suits
Eric Audra/ONKONY/Getty Images

For women, the smart-casual dress code can include attractive slacks and a jacket or a jacket over a dress, as seen in this example. The men in this photo are wearing components of formal workplace attire, but they have dressed them down for a smart-casual environment. They are well-dressed and look pulled together, wearing clothes that are visually appealing and professional.

More Colorful Than Formal Attire

Group showcasing the many colors of smart-casual wear
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This business team standing on the stairs is dressed in smart-casual attire. The women wear blouses with dress pants, and one woman wears an informal jacket. The jewelry they wear is low-key and adds interest to their overall looks. The men are wearing dress shirts and pants with leather accessories. Their attire is more colorful than the clothing in a formal environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Smart-casual dress is a step up from business casual, but it is not as dressy as formal work attire.
  • The smart-casual look allows flexibility for personal taste in fashion.
  • Cultivating your own personal style can help when it comes to deciding what to wear in a smart-casual environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do I do if they don’t have a set dress code?

If your workplace doesn't have a set dress code, there may be an unspoken expectation that employees will dress casually but professionally. This is also sometimes known as smart-casual. If you still aren't sure, it never hurts to be overdressed; being underdressed may be worse.

What is a smart-casual dress code?

A smart-casual dress code is like a mixture of a casual and formal dress code. It is a step up from business casual, but it is not as dressy as formal work attire.

What options are good for nonbinary people?

The most important thing for nonbinary people is to wear something they are comfortable in. Many types of clothing that are appropriate for smart-casual dress codes, such as button-up shirts and slacks, are gender-neutral.