Business Casual v Smart Casual

by Julie
(Los Angeles)

Capsule Work Wardrobe

Capsule Work Wardrobe


Can you discuss what Smart Casual really is and how it differs from Business Casual.


Hi Julie

That question has really made me think!

I'm sure you'll see it defined in lots of different ways and although I wrote about it in
Business Casual for Women now that you've asked me to put the two side by side it has made me think again!

When I compare one against the other I come up with:


Business casual is what most people would be happy to wear to the office if a 'corporate' look isn't needed. For a man it might be a suit with colored shirt, or jacket, trousers and shirt all reasonably well co-ordinated.

For a woman it means you can wear a slightly more casual skirt, dress or pants with a jacket or cardigan and perhaps a more fashionable top - still smart and well groomed - adding makeup and a small amount of jewelry. This fits in with what I've put together as a Capsule Work Wardrobe only I've included the jeans here as possibly acceptable for a dress-down Friday.

Quality shoes, briefcase/bag, coat etc. give the professional polish to both men and women.

Jeans are always a complete no-no unless it's made crystal clear that they are acceptable on a dress-down day or it's a more creative environment.


Smart casual, to me, always indicates a more relaxed social situation. So for a woman smart casual could be a dress or pants outfit; jeans with a glamorous top for drinks or dinner. A man might also want to introduce denim (depending on the venue) and a polo shirt or roll neck sweater but it's still a well groomed look. Definitely no ripped jeans or sneakers even if they're designer brand.

Of course this is quite a loose explanation as every climate/country/industry/social scene will have their own interpretation.

Hope this helps a little.

kind regards

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