Smart-casual: what does it actually mean? Party season’s go-to dress code presents an array of menswear problems, and the perfect chord is hard to strike.
Jeans are so often met with scorn, no matter how much you spent on them. And too much tailoring can make it seem like you don’t know how to let your hair down.
On the surface, it sounds so easy, so relaxed, so… casual. Yet there’s the lingering, vaguely troubling presence of that word ‘smart’. It’s enough to make you beg for a black tie invitation: at least with that you know where you stand.
To help you tread the line, we’ve zoomed in on four key smart-casual mainstays.
A Blazer: A separate tailored jacket is more casual than a full suit. But it’s still tailoring, and therefore smart.

The Oxford Button-Down: An Oxford button-down shirt is a smart-casual fail-safe.

The Chino: Arguably the most versatile trouser style a man can own, chinos straddle the smart-casual line perfectly.

The Brogue: No other pair of shoes in your wardrobe will get as many outings wear or last as long as the brogue.

The Bomber Jacket: The bomber has a timeless appeal that transcends years, styles and trends.

Dark Wash Denim: Darker washes in straight or tapered cuts mimic the classic trouser, meaning they sit just as pretty with an Oxford shirt, blazer and Derbies as they do your white tee and Vans.

The Crew Neck: It’s a versatile piece that will slot seamlessly into any outfit.

The backpack: Once a college staple, now it’s a luxury that looks as good next to your desk as propped up against a bar stool.

What are your go-to smart-casual formulas? Let us know in the comments section.