Career Advice
September 28, 2020

Business Casual VS. Smart Casual — What’s the difference? (with infographic)

You’ve heard of ‘casual’, and you’ve also heard of ‘black tie’. However, your new workplace calls for something of a mix — let’s get down to business on the right dress code.

Some industries might require business attire on a daily basis, while others might let you get away with sneakers. However, most offices today would require something of a blend — either a ‘business casual’ or ‘smart casual’ dress code.

You might think they are the same (don’t worry, we did too!) but here’s a quick cheat sheet on knowing the difference so you dress appropriately from Day One!

Business Casual

Definition: Outfits that you would typically wear in a professional work environment but without the ‘suit and tie’ formality.

Typical Occassions: Days without external meetings with clients, workdays in the office, events during office hours, Casual Fridays

Recommended Colour Palette: Muted colours, darker shades, simple patterns or none at all, usually up to 2 colours in your ensemble

Recommendations (For Men)

Outfits: Dress shirts, plain coloured shirts, dress pants, khaki pants, muted/dark coloured blazers, strictly no T-shirts or Polo shirts
Shoes: Dark leather shoes

Recommendations (For Women)

Outfits: Blouses, sleeved tops, dress pants, knee-length skirts, khaki pants, shift dresses, muted/dark coloured blazers
Shoes: Heels, covered shoes, no slippers, no sandals

Image for post
Image for post

Smart Casual

Definition: Also known as dressy casual, it is a less formal extension of ‘business casual’ and is typically for anything outside of the office premises.

Typical Occassions: Official events, lunch or weekend meetings, outside-office gatherings, dinner dates

Recommended Colour Palette: Brighter colours are acceptable, simple prints or classic patterns, coloured blazers, but no more than 3 colours in your ensemble

Recommendations (For Men)

Outfits: Smart pullovers, brighter/lighter shirts, plain coloured polo t-shirts, darker jeans, smart chinos, no shorts, no ripped jeans
Shoes: Oxfords, suede shoes, no trainers

Recommendations (For Women)

Outfits: Fashionable tops, dark jeans, high waisted pants/skirts, brighter coloured dresses
Shoes: Heels, sleek flats, covered shoes, no slippers

Before you start re-planning your #OOTD, keep in mind that there will still be days where you stare at your outfit and wonder if it’s appropriate.

Here’s a pro-tip: When in doubt, always err on the safe side and lean towards an ensemble that’s more put together, elegant and timeless (that’s why we always leave a simple blazer in the office!)

Written by
Wani Azahar

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