Reviewing “Smart Casual” articles from some of the popular Men’s fashion bloggers

I am a real time Men’s wear sales person/fitter, for over 30 years. I would like to give you my point of view, dealt with real customers in Japan, in the US and I am still dealing here in Sydney Australia.

As I have dealt with men who could only afford to buy $500 suits or even cheaper, to men who don’t even look at the price tag, and buy $10,000 suits, they obviously have different value points.

I read some articles written by some Men’s fashion bloggers time to time, I sometimes think that some articles are sending out the information that could easily misinterpret by the audience, or these bloggers may know and study about Men’s wear but they are not in the industry after all.


So, I am not here to correct or prove these articles are giving you the misinterpret information, but I would like to point out my point of view on what they are talking about, by using some of their posts. 

Again, I am not here to judge anyone, not telling what’s right and wrong, I am not here to attack anyone in any ways.

Another words, I am only reviewing Men’s fashion bloggers’ articles.

Today I would like to look at “Smart Casual”, this term “Smart Casual” to me is that the suit might be a bit too much, but chinos and the shirt might be a bit too under dressed.

However, all depends where you are based in. Here in Sydney, everyone is pretty much in “Smart Casual”, even in the corporate world.

The majority of men wearing suits in Sydney who are in conservative industries like bankers and lawyers, don't even wear ties, not completed the look of suiting, this to me is not even a “Smart Casual”.

I am not saying it’s wrong, it looks funny. If you wear a suit with a dress shirt, you should complete the look by wearing a tie, that’s all.

As for some men in media or tech industries may wear suits with T-shirts, polo-shirts, this to me is the more trendy look and it’s okay.

I guess what I am trying to say is that men should dress accordingly for your job industries and your title. If you want to dress down to “Smart Casual” for “Casual Friday” or something, there are some looks available.

And these are what some of the popular bloggers are talking about.

Simon from Permanent Style.

I have personally met him in London for maybe 2 minutes or so and introduced myself. LoL

He seems very nice in person, and I am sure he is.

According to his website, his career started as a journalist. He is a professional writer. Men’s wear was his hobby and became full time talking about men’s style.

One thing you need to remember is that he is an English man, born in London and grew up in the cold and grey weather, with English culture and style.

Right off the bat, he mentions;

Dressing well is as much about propriety as it is about style, quality or personality.
This is particularly true at work, where there are often prescriptions, or at least expectations, about professionalism and clothing.

His point of view is this

1, Navy jacket and grey pants and says;
This first combination is so ubiquitous it is sometimes referred to as the ‘menswear uniform’. But frankly, unless you spend your time at Pitti or in a menswear store, it’s more likely this will be associated with a certain gold-button-blazer American type.

I agree with him 120%. Just because I was born in Japan, lived in the US in 90’s and 00’s, that this look yet to be the staple look in my opinion. Especially when I worked for Brooks Brothers, navy blazer with gold buttons (single breasted or double breasted), grey gabardine pants, rolled collar button down shirt and striped tie was the staple look for men.

However, that doesn’t mean it is, here in Sydney. Especially, younger guys are not familiar with this look. Of course, this has something to do with personality and climate, younger guys here think the navy jacket is boring, and mis match looks weird. Men here get attracted to something more interesting colors and patterns in jackets, and wear causal chinos in lighter colors.

Then Simon talks about the blue oxford shirt;

Most men think of blue and white shirts, in a variety of patterns, as interchangeable. But a plain white cotton-poplin is much smarter than a striped blue heavy-oxford, as shown here. The first is very corporate and professional, the second rugged and casual.
There are three variables, and they all make a difference: color (warm/cold), fabric (smooth/rough), and pattern (plain/not).

White and blue shirts are the easiest to work with, you don't really need to think of color matching to the jacket or the pants. As for white poplin (broadcloth) is smarter than heavy oxford, I guess it’s not so much about the colors or patterns here, the weave of the fabric is more important. Poplin (broadcloth) is dressier than oxford. I personally like “Royal Oxford (Oxford fabric with thread count 100 and up), gives the casual but elegant look.

White is dressier than any other colors, smooth fabric like poplin (broadcloth) is dressier than oxford, plain colors are dressier than patterned.

Then he talks about chinos rather than flannels.

First of all, the important part here is that he is talking about dress chinos like pants made of cotton, not jeans like chinos. Dress chinos are properly made like wool pants, but difference of fabric and there are center crease. As for jeans like chinos, don't have center crease and much more casual look.

So, even not to compare chinos to flannels like Simon did, compare dress chinos to casual chinos, you would see the difference in a look.

Then you talk about shoes, race up shoes to loafers, black or brown, smooth leather or suede, then boots or sneakers.

The same above outfit may look different depends on the shoes you wear with. All going back to “dress appropriately for your job industry and environment”.

Next is, Anotonio from Real Men Real Style;

He seems very passionate about men’s wear as well, however he is a business man more than a fashion advisor in my opinion.

He was an officer of the marines. He grew up in Texas, and live in Wisconsin, no offense but these are not fashion capital states, and generally speaking they are not known by the most fashionable people.

In Texas, people wear a navy blazer with western shirt, jeans and western boots as one of the smart casual outfits.

As you see how Antonio dresses, he seems to like old school typical American style, pants are a bit too baggy.

Anyways, he says;

Blazers – Own at least one traditional navy blazer. It's okay if it's a little boxy and stiff-looking, with the brass buttons and everything. You'll wear it when you want to look respectable, but a suit would be too formal. Once you have one of these you'll surprise yourself with how often you wear it.

Again, he lives in the US, this is how they think.

Also, he says;

Things you need for this look: A good variety of trouser and jacket styles, with some lightly-patterned or light-colored dress shirts to complete the outfits. Casual leather shoes. Pocket squares for the jackets. Sweaters can work into the look too.

Because generally speaking, lightly patterned or lighter colored shirts would give you more casual look than plain white shirt.

Next is, Barron from Effortless Gent

I couldn’t find the clear information, but I guess he is based in New York. And he was originally from tech related industry.

Here, he talks about performance fabrics in a smart casual environment more than the style. However, I thought it was an interesting article.

He says;

Polyester fabrics have come a long way in the last twenty years. Technicians have engineered the fabric to look and feel almost identical to cotton, but with stain-fighting, wrinkle-resistant properties.

As he says, polyester and other synthetic fabrics had a bad reputation. In any fabrics now a days, technical part of weaving methods been better and better, and we see water resistant fabric to 100% natural stretch fabric these days.

However, polyester is polyester. There are some general habits of the fabric still exist. I am sure this brand “Mizzen + Main” did a great job on this fabric, but please do not assume that all the polyester fabrics are like this.

He says;

1, performance fabrics don't shrink

He says, performance fabric doesn't shrink at all, but yes it does. Regardless of what the fabric is, any fabric will shrink. To avoid, too much shrinkage, follow the care instruction by the makers of the products, but generally speaking, you wash your shirt in cold gentle cycle. However, perhaps you cannot get rid of odor with cold water, so some people prefer to use hot water, then it will shrink even more.

2, performance fabrics don't stink

Polyester is very durable and gets dried up fast, therefor strong in the washer machine and the fabric wouldn't get tired easily, even it’s known to be much stronger with heat than any other synthetic fabrics. However, it doesn't absorb water, that’s why it’s usually blended with other fiber. Polyester is actually known to be difficult to get rid of stain and odor, that's why once it gets skin oil and odor, it is hard to get rid of it.

Remind you, Polyester is made from Petroleum. When Polyester fabric reaches at glass-liquid transition point which is around 70 degrees, it loses resistance and gets wrinkled.

Therefor you should hand wash a shirt made of Polyester with warm water under 70 degrees (40 to 50 degrees), so that you can keep the structure of the product and get rid of stain and odor.

3, it doesn't turn pink

Polyester shirt is harder to absorb colors from other products in the same washing machine, but like he says it is best practice not to wash with colored items.

4, it doesn't wrinkle

Yes true, Polyester holds wrinkles better than any other fabric.

He also says;

Sweat much? No more dark circles under your arms thanks to the fact that performance fabrics don’t absorb moisture. It’ll wick sweat away from your body and release it.

I wouldn't take his words for it 100%, as I explained before.

Next up is, Australia based blog site “D’Marge”

They say;

It’s better to be overdressed than under, but suits are a no-no. Blazers, however, should be a staple if you want to lean on the smarter end of the spectrum.

Just like everyone else above,

However, they also say;

Bomber jackets and trench coats are also totally acceptable when it comes to smart casual too. Perhaps a striped T-shirt underneath and neatly pressed trousers. Yes, now you’re talking.

I am not sure if Bomber jackets are totally acceptable, all depends on your industry. However, button up shirt underneath might be okay with the bomber jacket, but T-shirt underneath would be too casual, defeat the purpose of “Smart Casual”, especially with well pressed pants?

Smart casual T’s? Again, depends on your industry, but I am more talking about “Smart Casual” in the office environment.

Even if you wear a jacket, collarless shirt might be a bit too casual to be identified as a “Smart Casual”.

I am not sure if “shorts” are accepted in the office environment.

If I were in charge of dress code in the office, I would probably accept below.

1, 2, 4, 7, 8

Next up is, Sven Raphael from Gentlemans Gazette

I think he is based in Minnesota.

He says;

First, the urban dictionary got it right by saying don’t take it literally. That means, don’t wear tennis shoes with a dress shirt, or combine sweatpants with a blazer. So in a nutshell, smart casual is not about mixing different pieces of clothing from different degree of formality, but rather to pick something that is in between a very casual outfit and a formal or businesslike outfit. A hoodie would be too casual and pleated wool dress pants would be too formal, instead, if you go with chinos, they are less formal, as well as a polo-shirt, you hit that perfect sweet spot of smart casual.
Personally, I like the idea of a smart casual dress code because it allows you to use lots of colors and to combine different things that you may not have combined otherwise. Ideally, you always want to avoid looking at the extreme end of the spectrum, that means no jeans, no trainers, no hoodies, or no sweatpants. At the same time, it also means no neckwear, no suits, no pleated pants, and no black dress shoes.

Yes, I agree with him by saying “Ideally, you always want to avoid looking at the extreme end of the spectrum, that means no jeans, no trainers, no hoodies, or no sweatpants. At the same time, it also means no neckwear, no suits,”  but, why not pleated pants and black shoes? Pleated or plain front pants have nothing to do with the formality in my opinion. Pleated pants are purely for the comfort. Black dress shoes look much dressier than brown shoes, but if you wear black pants or black jeans, I would probably recommend wearing black shoes over brown shoes. Also, if you wear gray pants with black spots jacket, I would recommend black shoes as well. He may have meant it as black cap toe dress shoes, but you could easily work with black brogues, black monks.

He says;

1, A Stand Out Blazer Or Odd Jacket
On the formal side would be an odd jacket or a blazer. Odd jacket meaning it has a bolder pattern, another color, and it doesn’t match the pants. You don’t want to wear a suit, a combination at the most.
Of course, if you want to be more casual with your jacket choice, you can absolutely do that. You could go with a Harrington Jacket in cotton, maybe a linen jacket such as this green one, I would even argue you could wear a bomber jacket or maybe a leather jacket if that suits the overall outfit.

I agree with a blazer and an odd jacket, but I am not sure about Harrington jacket and bomber jacket, I guess all depends on your industry.

2, checked colored shirt

If you prefer this route, you might want to stay within blue family, not too bold.

3, Chinos, Corduroys, Seersucker, & Linen Pants
When it comes to pants or slacks, don’t wear jeans and don’t wear pleated pants made out of wool because that’s office wear and both of them are too extreme. Instead, go with chinos, maybe corduroy in the winter, seersucker or linen in the summer or something with a bit more texture that’s interesting and it could also have a pattern such as a small houndstooth for example.

I am not sure why he categorizes the pleated wool pants as an office wear, and okay to wear small houndstooth pants. I think all of the above are okay to mix with.

His conclusion;

At the end of the day, it’s your call. Personally, I’d always urge you to get a little bit more formal within the smart casual dress code because that way, you always look dapper and properly attired. No one will turn you down, everyone will respect you, and they will know that you understood the smart casual dress code.

Quote/Image sourced from Gentlemans Gazette

Yes, I agree 100%.

My conclusion is pretty much same as others, “Smart Casual” doesn't mean you can go to work in shorts and T-shirts. There should be a minimum care for your workplace, colleagues and your clients. All depends on your job environment and climate. A bit more dress up is better than too dress down.

What do you think? Please leave me your comment!

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