Trying to find the true meaning of the phrase smart casual can quickly turn into a nightmare. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code”. But these days it’s quite common for smart casual to be the dress code.
So you go online to search for smart casual style guides that variously counsel everything from shorts, which don’t strike us as especially smart, to Ascot ties, which don’t come over as particularly casual. And as the latter indicates, many of these guides feel like they were set in stone shortly after the ten commandments. Whatever smart casual means, it’s likely to be something different today than it was in the starch-collared 19th century.
“Smart casual is destined to be one of those terms that history will not be kind to,” says Josh Sims, author of