Politics and Business

Dress Coding: Business Casual Or Smart Casual

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Deciding what to wear to a social event or a business meeting for not to look clueless is a hard task. Especially if you don’ differentiate between dress codes for various occasions. However, if you know the features of each dress code, then it facilitates your choice.

Here is a guide for you to use each time you choose between a business casual and smart casual style.

Difference Between Business Casual And Smart Casual

Some people assume that a business casual dress code is for work, whereas a smart casual is for social events. Let’s see some peculiarities of each dress code.

Business casual

  • What is it? It’s a mix of formal pieces and daily clothing items. Combination rules are not strict, but as the DeGroote School of Business states: “The appearance should still be professional.”
  • When to wear? It is a dress code, which is accepted at work, conferences, job fairs, workplace outings, during training sessions.
  • What to wear? Tailored blouses, blazers, knee-length skirts of pastel tones, two piece dresses.

Smart casual

  • What is it? Smart casual is neat and conventional, but relatively informal style.
  • When to wear? It is a perfect choice for parties, gatherings with colleagues, other social meetings.
  • What to wear? Skirts, vivid blazers, blouses, denim pants, patterned dresses, pumps, and flats.

In both cases, decent accessories are accepted.

Key Wardrobe Items

There are some key pieces in the wardrobe, which create a perfect look if they are properly combined.

What To Wear On Top

There are some fundamental pieces of clothes, which should be worn by a woman either for business casual or smart casual dress code.

Blazers And Jackets

Business casual:

Blazers have been designed for formal events, however, in order to achieve a more relaxed look, combine a slim blazer with a skinny skirt. To achieve a sophisticated look, go for a brown or black jacket of a classic cut. Stick to calm shades and traditional textures.

Smart casual:

Blazers and jackets should be your win-win option because they may add a zest to any outfit. Choose cotton, linen, wool or silk, the type of fabric depends on the season. The color spectrum should fit your appearance, but it is advised to choose among warm and neutral tones. They are easier to combine and inject into any look.

But if you want to make a statement, then go for vivid colors. A bright blazer or a jacket with an offbeat pattern may become the focal point of your look. Also, always prefer well-fitted clothes, which always look smarter.


Business casual:

The best fabric for blouses is linen, cotton, chiffon, but make sure that chiffon blouses are opaque. They can be either monochrome, striped or with a print (geometric, polka dot, paisley). The trend of 2017 is a floral print, it can be used, but it should not be too bright. You may wear a plain skirt and a blouse with the print, and complement the image with high heels.

Besides, there may be voluminous details in the form of embroidery on the blouse.

Smart casual:

With a single – color satin pastel blouse: loose or tight you’ll never lose. Though, if you have a classical bottom, then a patterned blouse, a striped one, for instance, may be your accent. Also, cotton blouses with belts and V-neck will go well with skinny jeans and flats.


Business casual:

Dresses also may be your business casual attire, so why not to put an accent on your femininity with a well-picked dress? Mid-length dresses with the print, A-line gowns and dresses of muted colors: black, white, pale pink, soft beige will be great for this purpose. A tailored dress always elevates the look, so it’s your must have in a wardrobe.

Smart casual:

Dresses are also fail-safe, you may choose any and complement it with unexpected accessories. For instance, wear a printed dress with a bright scarf. Chic knee-length dresses of gray, black, taupe and navy colors with geometric patterns are good options. Also, cotton sleeveless gowns a few inches above the knees of various colors look smart and feminine. Besides, a plaid cotton dress is always trendy.


Business casual:

Tank tops tend to be the best choice for women. Along with it, women wear crop tops, sleeveless tops and combine them with denim pants and high-waist pants. This look is plain but gorgeous. Popular fabrics are silk, modal, cotton, polyester.

Smart casual:

Tops with flounces of bright colors and tops with open shoulders should be considered. If you combine them with a smart element, then you look sophisticated, not sloppy.

What To Wear On The Bottom

The lower part of the outfit is very important, so you should approach consciously to its choice. So, the building blocks of these styles are:


Business casual:

Wrinkle-free pants are a primary option for many women. High-waist cotton, linen pants of a straight cut, and boot cut pants should be in the focus of your attention. Choose those, which will emphasize your advantages. Basic colors such as dark blue, black, gray, or beige are the best, but you can also wear burgundy or forest green pants.

Smart casual:

Don’t forget that the first word here is “smart” and only then “casual.” So, put aside the idea of a satin stripe or over tailored pants. Choose not too tight denim or cotton pants, keep the color neutral, dark blue, indigo or gray. Or pick a bright shade, with which you’ll stand out. But make sure to combine this hue with a calm top, otherwise, you’ll look tasteless.


Business casual:

Does a perfect skirt for a business casual exist? Yes, it does! Amazing pencil skirts are ideal for creating the right silhouette, and they perfectly match the business style. Also, if you want to add more vibration to your look, wear a plain skirt, paired with a colored top. But make sure that you look professional. Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland states that skirts should not be too short or revealing.

If you don’t like mediocre things, then opt a pencil skirt with a floral print. But be careful with volumetric patterns, they will make your hips visually bigger. Also, a denim knee-length skirt, A-line skirt in a solid pattern and a pleated skirt of a bright color: emerald or burgundy will be perfectly fine.

Smart casual:

Corduroy skirts are always a smart way to dress up. If you combine them with a smart jacket, you’ll get a gorgeous look. On top of that, a smart casual dress code allows playing with patterns. Opt the best fitting skirts among cotton clothes with surreal patterns and traditional viscose plaid skirts.


Business casual:

When it comes to shoes, the scope of your choice is very broad here. Heels around 3 inches or less, lacquered, suede shoes may complement your outfit as well as flats, ankle boots, pumps, and sandals. Bright and nude colors are fine but steer clear of floral prints. But if you are a huge fan of prints, choose the animal pattern.

Smart casual:

A pair of go-to pumps works well almost with any clothes. If you run out of time, just wear them and your look will be decent. However, flats are always in demand. Wear a mid-length dress with pointed-toe shoes or be inspired by menswear and combine pants with loafers. Besides, bright tones and extraordinary details make shoes more fitting and you won’t look as if you’ve just strolled straight out of the office.

Hence, these dress codes are versatile and you may adjust them to any occasion. A business casual look may be transformed into a smart casual just by adding some accessories. But whatever you select, remember the words of Anne Klein: “Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will.”

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