It's natural to feel a bit confused when you're invited to an event where the dress code is "smart casual". You'll find you're certainly not the only one trying on outfit after outfit and wondering whether it's appropriate, too smart or too casual.
Events that are likely to see guests invited to wear smart casual clothing are office parties, gallery openings and even some job interviews, particularly in the creative industries. Ever thought jeans are just too casual and a little black dress is too smart for any of these? Think again! Let's take a look at some ideas for styling the perfect smart casual outfit.
Essentially, inviting you to wear a smart casual outfit is your potential employer's way of saying he doesn't want to see endless amounts of people wearing bland, professional suits that say nothing about their personalities. Don't think someone's visual appearance doesn't influence decisions. Clothes are a powerful medium through which people can express themselves.
Nonetheless, don't take it as an invitation to show up in your favourite jeans. For job interviews it's worth focusing on the smart side of the scale. Choose classics like fitted trousers or a knee-length skirt and build your outfit from there. Play around with colours but avoid very bright tones and opt for pastels and subdued tones instead.
An ideal smart casual interview outfit could be cropped tailored trousers in a camel tone teamed with a striped sailor shirt, a fitted cardigan and leather brogues. If you're keen on wearing a skirt, substitute the trousers for a high-waisted skirt, a Parisian-chic look if you like.
Arty gatherings are one of the most fun reasons to style an outfit as you can afford to be quirkier and more experimental than usual. A lot of people will have paid a lot of attention to what they're wearing as fashion plays an important part in the industry.
For these occasions avoid cheap high street shops and choose to spend a bit more money on a unique outfit. Look towards vintage fashion for inspiration, and browse retro clothing shops and higher end high street stores.
A cool and comfy option is to wear a floaty dress with opaque tights and simple shoes. Look for block-coloured dresses adorned with sequins, cut-outs or lace. Choose a fab pair of earrings and you're good to go.
Your office party outfit will depend on the venue, but in most cases can be more casual than smart. Chances are you're in for a long night and quite a bit of drinking so you want to focus on comfort. Don't squeeze into a tiny, tight dress just because you want to impress colleagues. They'll be equally impressed if you throw together a cute and comfy outfit involving jeans. Yes, jeans, can be worn if selected in a quality denim and trendy fit.
Dark denims are considered the smartest but don't opt for baggy fits or ripped styles. Choose tight-fitting jeans in full length or cropped versions.
Team the trousers with a sexy low-cut top in a trendy metallic fabric, satin or velvet to add a glamorous touch to the fashion basic. Accessorise liberally and don't forget a pair of killer heels in patent or glittery styles as long as they go with your top. Rediscover the versatility of skinny jeans and you'll never want to go back to wearing bland and uncomfy little black dresses.