Smart-casual is that dress style that many find too difficult to navigate and get right. It doesn’t have to be hard though. Take a look at some of the best examples of summer smart-casual outfits this season, we can assure that there is a style or two perfect for you. And if you follow some of our rules for dressing smart-casual this summer, we guarantee your style will be sartorially on point.
The one-two-three rule. This is perhaps the easiest way to make smart-casual work. The one-two-three rule simply involves swapping one, two, or three items out for a casual one. The more you swap out the more casual the look will become. Usually though, if you decide to wear a more casual top then it often works best to keep to a smarter pair of trousers. And the reverse is also true. So if you want to wear a casual pair of, let’s say, denim jean trousers then it’s more straightforward to go for a smart shirt.
Swapping out just two items we find ensures that you don’t overdo it. So you could swap out your smart button-down shirt for a casual one and you loafers for a pair of white trainers while retaining the smart cropped trouser.
The Darker the Smarter Rule
This one’s simple! The darker the hue the smarter it will appear. The lighter the hue the more casual it tends to be. Think of the dinner suit or tuxedo…they are used for some of the most formal occasions that you will attend and they are almost always dark coloured, often black.
The first outfit (above-left) has opted for lighter hues compared to the second one (above-right) instantly making the first one sit on the more casual side or the smart-casual spectrum. The first outfit has opted for two, more casual items – going for the smart-casual tapered chino and a pair of white trainers and matching them with a smart button-down blue shirt and a light and elegant knit sweater draped over the shoulders give it a classy but relaxed feel.
The second outfit is made up of darker tones especially on the lower half of their body. The darker trouser looks a lot smarter than the light khaki chinos on the left. Notice that the shoes are also dark. In regards to the one-two-three rule, the second outfit has only swapped out one item for a casual one. In this case, the gentleman has opted for a casual and white patterned shirt and matching it with a pair of smart cropped trousers and a pair of formal loafers.
The Polo Shirt
One item to guarantee that you perfect smart-casual this summer is the polo shirt. The polo shirt is perhaps the epitome of smart-casual so always keep a least one of these in your wardrobe. Keep the hues neutral. White, grey and black are the most versatile hues and tend to look a little more elegant than the extravagant colours that you can often find with polo shirts.
While both outfits above use the same white polo shirt, they both have different trouser and shoes to each other. The first outfit (above-left) uses black suit trousers and a pair of dark formal loafers whilst the outfit on the right uses light khaki chinos and a pair of plain white sneakers. While both are smart-casual dress styles they fall slightly different on the spectrum – the first outfit feels a lot smarter than the second. So changing the hues and swapping out a couple more items will alter where on that spectrum your look falls. And remember the occasion should influence whether you opt for the darker hues and whether you swap out only one item instead of two or three.
The Hawaiian Shirt
The Hawaiian shirt is a big trend this season. They have come back but this time with a little revamp on design style. They are not your typical 80’s style floral pattern design, but whilst many do retain that iconic floral pattern design, this time around they look a little less cheesy and a lot more elegant. The difference in hues is apparent. You’ll likely now find them in muted or monochromatic hues and the style is slightly more fitting around the arms. Wear the Hawaiian shirt the opposite to how you’d think to wear it. So no shirts and sandals. Think instead of tapered chinos or smart cropped trousers with a pair of loafers.
From the first two outfits (top-left/top-right) the one on the left uses darker hues compared to the one on the right – a much smart look and one that would be perfect for evenings and nights out. The one on the right is much more suited to daytime wear.
Suits This Summer
Suits may be stretching the boundary between smart and smart-casual but it can be done. Suits are smart by all means but there are ways to make them look more casual. Again, follow the one-two-three rule by switching a couple of items out for casual ones. Trainers and t-shirts are great examples which you can see in the outfit below on the left. The use of earthy colours such as browns as seen in the first image gives a more casual vibe compared to darker more traditional suits colours – such as blacks, blues and greys.
The second outfit is composed of a high shine grey suit and a pair of formal black leather loafers. The grey wool blend suit could be considered smart with the high shine finish only contributes to this effect. There is only one item that can be considered casual in style and that would have to be the Hawaiian shirt. The Hawaiian shirt in this instance is a great match for the grey suit with the patterns and tones complementing the overall look. A button or two undone will ensure that casualness is captured in this look. And we suggest you ditch the tie if you plan on going smart-casual with a suit.
Smart-Casual Shorts for Summer
You just won’t be able to get through the summer without them. Shorts are essential for keeping cool this season and for many of you, they may be something you will be slipping into each day or at least on the weekends. If you want a smart-casual look with shorts then it imperative you pick out something suitable. First, forget any sports style shorts, and equally leave the combat shorts in the wardrobe. What you want to be looking for is something more fitting or tailored – think smart tailored shorts or slim fit chino shorts. Hues are best kept neutral – white and black are popular choices that tend to look modern and polished. However, if you want something a little more relaxed, khaki chinos or light blue chinos are great also.
What should you wear with your smart-casual shorts? Casual shirts are one of our favourite options here. Striped button-down shirts look fantastic with a smart pair of white slim fit chino shorts. Blue shirts, in particular, combine really well with white shorts. Take a look at the top two, almost identical outfits below. These are great combos for a smart-casual look this summer. White slim fit chinos, blue or striped white & blue button-down shirt, suede light cream loafers and a light cream woven belt to match.
Our final set of outfits, (bottom set) pictured on the beach on a warm summers day is indeed well put together. Each outfit has been pulled off with white raw hem denim shorts, a striped blue button-down shirt, brown boat shoes with the first finished off with a blue blazer jacket and the second with a blue buttoned cardigan. Going with the denim as a fabric for the shorts keeps the outfit more casual, the raw hem conveys this further.
One of the best shoes for summer has to be the boat shoe. Blue boat shoes could work with both of these outfits, however, in this case, both outfits have been paired with the brown boat shoe – breaking up the colours a little more. Brown is always a safe bet if you are unsure what boat shoe to go with.
Now the top half of the outfit is smarter compared to the relaxed and casual shorts and boat shoes. A blue/white striped button down casual shirt is one of the most versatile shirts you could own this summer. As we have mentioned previously, blue and whites coordinated really well together, so combining the blue/white casual shirt with the white denim shorts was always the wise decision here. We recommend that you have a blue/white striped casual shirt in your summer wardrobe, it will come to good use, we can assure you. Both outfits maintain the relaxed look with a button or two undone, and with heat and the summer sun bearing down on you, it will help to keep you that little bit cooler too.
The outfits have been finished with either a navy blue blazer or a navy blue cardigan, the smart choice undoubtedly. Why is this you may say? Remember, ‘the darker the smarter rule’. As we are going for a smart-casual summer look we need no emphasise smart somewhere within the outfit. Dark hues help with this. Overall, these two outfits are exemplary summer smart-casual styles for men, sartorially on point and will suit almost any man.