Business Casual Vs. Smart Casual: Understand The Difference

Business Casual Vs. Smart Casual: Understand The Difference

Casual Friday is a thing of the past, or so we thought. In today's office landscape, offices are adopting a new concept called 'smart casual' to ensure their employees have the flexibility they need to look and feel their best while they're at work. This can include the use of colours, patterns, art, and other design elements.

The term smart casual doesn't just refer to pants or shorts, it encompasses everything from how you dress to what is comfortable and meets current workplace fashion standards. To help you get an idea of what that means in practice, we'll explain smart casual vs business casual and give examples of both so you can choose which one works best for your team culture.

A] What is Business Casual?

Business casual is a dress code that's been making its way into office culture over the past few years. It's a relaxed, professional style of clothing that matches the structure of the business, rather than the label of it.

It doesn't mean that you have to wear khakis and button-up shirts when working in an office; it just means that there are no strict definitions of what does and doesn't constitute business casual. There are several options available to you, some of which are as follows:

1. Business Casual Options for Men:

  • Collared shirt or button-up: If you're looking for something to wear to your next business meeting, then a collared premium shirt for men is what you need. In most cases, a tie isn't required, but if you want to make a good impression, you can wear one.
  • Denim, chino pants, or formal pants: When it comes to business casual, there are a few key pieces you'll need in your closet. Business casual allows for some creative interpretations, and there are many options available to you as an office goer. Denim, chino pants, or formal pants: office dress codes will dictate what type of clothing you should wear in the workplace.
  • Belt: Belts are often used as a way to tidy up an outfit or to help hold up pants. The right belt can really finish off an outfit. You'll look more polished and put together if you wear a belt when you tuck in your shirt.
  • Sneakers or loafers: If you're tired of the same old shoes, then it's time to upgrade. It's time to add some pizazz to your wardrobe and stand out. To be able to look great at work and feel confident, you need a pair of sneakers and loafers that go beyond just looks; something that will give you more confidence as well.

2. Business Casual Options for Women:

  • Top or jumper: If you are asking what kind of business casual option you have when you are in formal attire, the answer is a top or jumper. However, you should keep your business attire straightforward, whether you're headed to the office or a formal meeting.
  • Dark denim or dress pants: There isn't much that surprises us anymore, but dressing for work is one of those constants. Denim or formal pants are acceptable alternatives for women to wear to the office. It has been observed that dark denim has a sartorial appeal, while dress pants' creased and neat appearance also looks great for business casual.
  • Mid-length skirt or dress:You should choose office clothes that are easy to wear but professional enough to convey your personal brand. The mid-length skirt or dress is a great way to do just that! You can wear it casually with an oxford shirt and sneakers or dress up with a blazer and heels.
  • Dress shoes, high heels, or sneakers: When you're dressed up for work, the last thing you want is to be hobbling around all day. In the workplace, women can wear flats, heels, sneakers, or even dress shoes with their business casual outfits.
  • Belts and accessories: When it comes to belts, accessories, and other accoutrements that are part of an office-appropriate look for women, there are almost as many options available as there are ways to dress them up. A belt can be the finishing touch that your outfit desperately needs.

B] What is Smart Casual?

Smart casual outfits are more flexible than their counterparts and can help you dress for a variety of different events. Though it's less formal than business casual, smart casual nevertheless necessitates a neat and tidy appearance on the part of both genders. Here are some smart casual clothing option that you can think about:

1. Smart Casual Options for Men:

  • Blazer or a jacket: The smart casual definition for men means you can dress up your look by wearing a nice button-up shirt and blazer or jacket with khakis or shorts. Wearing a blazer over men's premium t-shirts in the office helps you look more polished and professional. Our different types of trendy tshirt guide can help you pick the right tshirt! Choose jackets that are simple in colour and style.
  • Button-down shirt: On top, you can wear a button-down shirt with khakis or chinos (cargo or soft-shell pants). You can skip the tie with a button-down shirt, which is why they typically come in solid colours or with subtle patterns.
  • Trousers or chino pants: A pair of smart, clean, and ironed chinos or khakis is the epitome of smartness. You can wear them to the office with a shirt or sweater or go out with a matching jacket and shoes. Wear a belt with your trousers or chino pants.
  • Dress shoes, loafers, or sneakers: Loafers, or sneakers, are a great choice for men who are looking for a smart casual style. They're comfortable, and they look great with any outfit. Plus, they're versatile, you can wear them with jeans, a dress shirt, or even a suit.

2. Smart Casual Options for Women

  • Patterned or coloured top: Look no further than a patterned or coloured top, it's officially Smart Casual territory for women. Not only are these tops stylish and comfortable, but they also make a great fashion statement.
  • Cardigan or blazer: Cardigan or blazer is an excellent option for women. It's smart, casual, and versatile, making it a great choice for any occasion. Plus, it's a great way to dress up or down for the office.
  • Dressy skirts or pants: Dressy pants or skirts offer a comfortable, stylish alternative to more conservative clothing options like mid-length skirts and dresses.
  • Casual sneakers or dress shoes: This "smart Casual" look is perfect for women who want to feel comfortable and stylish at the same time. Casual sneakers and dress shoes are versatile and can be worn with any outfit.

C] What's the difference between Business Casual and Smart Casual?

There's a lot of confusion out there about the difference between business casual and smart casual. So what is the difference, exactly?

Business casual typically refers to clothing that is comfortable and practical. It's perfect for situations where you don't want to dress too formally or feel too constrained.

Smart casual, on the other hand, is a bit more dressy. Premium casual wear is designed to look good and feel comfortable, but it's not as formal as business attire. 

Business casual refers to clothing that is comfortable and appropriate for work, clothes that are stylish but not too flashy.

Smart casual, on the other hand, is clothing that is more fashion-forward but still comfortable.

D] When should you choose business casual over smart casual?

There needs to be more clarity out there about smart casual vs. business casual. The answer is simple,  it depends on the occasion. If you're looking to attract a more upscale clientele, you might want to wear business casual attire. Business casual is designed to be worn at work or during more formal events. This will make you look professional and stylish while still keeping your look casual and comfortable.

On the other hand, if you're looking to wear something comfortable and easy to wear, smart casual may be a better option.


Now that you know the differences between business casual and smart casual, it's time to make the most of your wardrobe. If you're still not sure about which clothes to wear, then you can always ask yourself two simple questions: What's the occasion? And what's the weather like? The answer to those two questions will help you decide which clothes are best for your situation. You also want to ensure that you're wearing clothes that fit well and that won't be too tight or too loose. Not only will this make you look better, but it will also make you more comfortable as well.

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