Of all the things I get asked, how to do ‘smart casual’ is the most frequent question. It’s mostly down to what you wear on your feet that ‘informs the outfit’ and sets the tone. So the first thing to consider is footwear, along with accessories. Avoid heels and instead opt for a flat or low heel. These Adidas Gazelle trainers feature a retro design in a feminine hue (£74.95). Whilst these Russell and Bromley boots are a dead ringer for the Isabel Marant version and their AquaItalia finish make them perfect for dodging April showers (£275).
Secondly shape and fit of clothes play a role in the smart casual code. More relaxed shapes and layering feel naturally more laid back. Fabrics such as denim, cotton twill and linens all say casual. Don’t lose sight of your silhouette and personality when working out what smart casual means to you.
Those with an hourglass silhouette will often find dressing casually very challenging. By virtue of being relaxed, items will not have structure or reference the waist. This instantly adds pounds to anyone with an hourglass figure. Also, pear shapes shouldn’t swamp their small upper halves with traditional layering. Instead, they should try horizontal layering by wearing a longer top under a cropped jacket, or cardigan, to divide up their longer torsos and visually raise the waist.
This red and cream lightweight coat by Zara (£69.99) is the new version of ‘#thatcoat’ which has over 8,000 followers and its own Instagram account. Its popularity is due to its universally flattering styling which makes it perfect smart casual fodder. If you don’t want a coat that everyone else is wearing instead take a look at the brand Vilagallo who do beautiful spring coats and jackets to pop over just about everything. Sue-parkinson.com has a fabulous selection including this apricot, pink and cream jacket (£195). They also stock this versatile jacket by Velvet (£185) shown here with a white tee and jeans. Jackets and coats like this just need the simplest of basics to ‘nail’ effortless smart casual dressing – tops just like this striped jersey by Cos (£17).
Great tops worn with jeans are another easy look. Linen-blend tee, is again, by Vilagallo but this time from collenandclare.com. This rosy pink blouse by Velvet (£110) from trilogystores.co.uk would look beautiful on someone who is more apple-shaped. The colour works well with every shade of jean from black to white with khakis and greys in between. The indigo embroidered blue smock top is from Toast (£185) and is in hand-spun and hand-woven khadi. Toast’s beautiful fabrics can add real luxe to a smart casual look.