What is Smart Casual? Here are my 3 Top Tips to Avoid the Confusion
So you got a new job and HR tells you the office dress code is smart casual. What does that mean?
The dress code “smart casual” can easily be misrepresented. To call something casual means that it is laid back and comfortable. Many people put more importance on the word casual than the word smart, which is where the problem begins.
Inappropriate dressing is a mistake that many people make in their careers. I would admit, even I have been there. Being a new kid on the company floor means one thing: all eyes are on you. You need to make the right impression, and sometimes you don’t get to take a second chance at the opinion people will form about you.
So what is smart casual?
The smart casual look is a step down from business attire, and one that allows you to show more personality than you would when you are asked to be ready for a board meeting or presentation. The smart casual look is the “everyday business” look, which is usually what you wear on a daily basis, especially if you are in more creative industries like marketing, advertising, etc. You have to be polished and dressed up, ready to stand face to face with a big boss or client, but you should wear a style that reflects your personality and not look too intimidating to sit with your colleagues.
Here are the basics of smart casual:
1. Accessorize. Unless you are richer than the rest of us common folk and have an unlimited access to wardrobe, accessories will be your best friends. Wear outfit enhancing jewelry that is in style but is tasteful. Where do you draw the line? If your statement piece is calling more attention than your work, save it for a night out. An accessory can either make or break your outfit, so pick carefully.
2. Look at different styles. A minimalist look is a great way to start, as it is an empty slate that you can style up or down. You can also think posh and preppy. If you are in the dark about what smart casual looks, check out country styles. I particularly like House of Bruar. You can see that a pullover, button down or a shirt with a collar are indispensable staples to the over all polished look. Chic country clothing shows so much elegance.
3. Dress for respect. This whole dress to impress deal has completely been blown out of context. It is important to remember that what impresses you might not impress your colleagues, or your boss! When you dress up in the morning, ask yourself – do I look respectable? Do I look like someone I would look up to and respect? If the answer is yes, you’re on a much better track than one that is only out to seek the approval of others.
Next time you dress up smart casual, don’t treat it too lightly. Your career will benefit from sweating these finer details.
Do you have any advice on how to dress smart casual? Comment below or tweet us @mscareergirl!