A Guide to Semi Casual for Men

Semi casual, or smart casual, is a common dress requirement and an essential one to do well. To properly wear this mode of attire, practice an appearance that’s fancier than what you wear casually, yet remain comfortable and relaxed. You can do this by juxtaposing regular garments with more fashionable accessories.

Remember, how you read into this dress code is individual. For example, some may wear khakis with a T-shirt and blazer. Others may wear or chinos with a chambray shirt. The choice is yours. Just make sure you strike the right balance of smart and casual, and that you’re dressed appropriately for the event you’re attending.

Table of Contents:
  1. A Semi Casual Men’s Style Guide: How to immediately improve your appearance
  2. What is the difference between semi formal and semi casual for men?
  3. Semi Casual Men: Men’s semi casual wear inspiration

Smart Casual Men Pinterest

A Semi Casual Men’s Style Guide: How to immediately improve your appearance

The smart casual men’s outfit is one of those styles that really lets you express yourself. Although it needs some degree of sophistication above casual wear, smart casual is nowhere near as formal as the professional style of business.

So you should consider carefully how to execute your smart casual outfit.

You want to make sure that your clothes help you express who you are and what you want to do.

If you’re invited to a smart casual wear event and you’re curious what that entails, this guide is for you.

But you’re not supposed to limit a smart casual outfit to special occasions. Smart casual will quickly become your day-to-day outfit if you want to. It’s meant to be sophisticated and mature, but it’s also meant to be relaxed and flexible to suit various locations.

A slightly dressier take on smart casual with David Gandy

Investigating the dressy face of casual clothing

First of all, let’s get one thing out of the way: dressing smart casual doesn’t have to be costly. Although you can spend a lot of money on designer pieces and luxury items if you like, you don’t actually have to.

You’ll see in this guide that with only a few well-chosen pieces, you ‘re going to be able to look fantastic whatever the occasion may be.

Actor Chris Pine’s rocking the smart casual style

The modern semi casual appearance

Welcome to the 2020 Smart Casual Look Guide for a Modern Man. This guide has been broken down into several parts. Right now, if you want, you can skip to the part that is most important to you.

  1. What is Semi Casual for Men?
  2. Semi casual men wardrobe basics: 15 basic items to complete your look
  3. 7 Fashion pro tips and essential ideas to consistently get your semi casual look on point
  4. 5 semi casual 2020 brands to follow
  5. Semi Casual dress manual: FAQs
  6. Resources and Recommendations for further reading about semi casual wear

A relaxed take on the smart casual style

What is Semi Casual for Men?

Smart casual wear is a very ambiguous style. Its description and meaning can vary depending on the season, the place and the people you meet. As a result, it can be difficult for men to learn exactly how to dress smart casual properly.

In general, smart casual means elegant Chinese or a pair of dark-colored jeans with a shirt, a blazer, and a pair of leather shoes. Your look will be well-fitting but slightly less formal than a casual or business theme. As Mr Porter ‘s Style Director put it, smart casual is “a lot smarter than a tracksuit, but less formal than a suit.”

“Smart casual is neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style.” – Oxford dictionary

If you’ve got a wedding invitation asking for a smart casual dress, forget about the jeans and go for the cool chinos instead. You may not need a scarf, but you can pack one just in case and dress up your blazer or jacket with a pocket square.

On the other side, if you’re going to a smart casual pool party, wearing a dressy pair of shorts tucked in a shirt would be perfectly appropriate.

A dressed-up mid-season smart casual style

The golden rule is to keep the venue and reason in mind when you’re getting ready to dress up. If you’re going to a post-work party in the UK or the US, a smart casual can be as simple as a pair of navy jeans and a blue checked shirt, for example. If you’re going to a wedding venue, go for beige Chinese with a blue blazer and a white pocket square, and you’re going to have a nice time.

“Smart casual on a summer weekend in Sardinia for a cocktail at the Yacht Club is different than smart casual in Toronto during the winter for an informal dinner. It is the knowledge and the good taste to understand the differences in terms of place, theme, people, weather and spirit.” – Andrea Perrone, CEO of Italian luxury fashion house Brioni

If you’re unsure about the expectations, ask the event organiser if they could give you a few examples of what they mean by smart casual or check with other people who might have been there before. And when in doubt, go for the more formal option. It’s always better to slightly overdressed than underdressed. People rarely say that you looked too good.

A perfect execution of the summer smart casual look.

Semi casual men wardrobe basics: 15 basic items to complete your look

Since the smart casual style is fairly traditional, it is less influenced by short-lived fashion trends. It’s easier to make your wardrobe future-proof with a few selected pieces that every man should own.

Smart casual wear revolves around a collection of classic elements that make up the building blocks of your personal style.

From dressed pants like well-fitted jeans or Chinese to button-up shirts and shoes, we’ve got some basics that you can mix and match to optimize the value of your wardrobe staples.

Denim Jeans

Since the 1950s, the cornerstone of the casual wardrobe, nice fitting jeans can be easily dressed up or toned down.

If you’re looking for a more polished feel, go for a high-quality pair of straight-leg style jeans and a dark wash.

Acne Studios Dark Navy Denim Jeans

Dark Navy Denim Jeans


Levi’s 501 Original Straight Jeans

501 Original Straight Jeans



Chinos are great at mixing things up from time to time. The same top outfit worn with the Chinos instead of your jeans will immediately change your overall look.

Invest in the right cut in classic colors such as khaki, navy and beige that are easy to match. Comfortable and stylish, the chinos can also help you get a smart casual look. Chinos are perfect for occasions with ambiguous dress codes, especially smart casual and business casual types.

POLO RALPH LAUREN Slim-Fit Stretch-Cotton Twill Chinostion

Slim-Fit Stretch-Cotton Twill Chinostion


IZODAmerican Chino Flat Front Straight-Fit Pant

American Chino Flat Front Straight-Fit Pant



A few long-sleeved shirts are absolutely essential to your wardrobe. You can roll up the cuffs for a more relaxed look.

Start building your shirt wardrobe with colors that are easy to match. A classic white shirt is the foundation. Make sure that the collar looks nice when it’s left open to the third button, but even when it’s completely buttoned.

HUGO BOSS White Jenno Slim-Fit Cotton Shirt

White Jenno Slim-Fit Cotton Shirt


Van Heusen Poplin Solid Point Collar Dress Shirt

Poplin Solid Point Collar Dress Shirt



A blazer is probably what sets your smart casual look apart from any other casual wear. Start with a classic unstructured navy blazer that will be easy to pair with any other pieces in your wardrobe.

A blazer, a timeless piece that should stay with you for years, is worth investing in quality materials and design.

(For parties and dances, you should check out men’s fashion blazers)

POLO RALPH LAUREN Navy Slim-Fit Unstructured Woven Blazer



Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Modern Navy Whool Blazer

Tommy Hilfiger
Men’s Modern Navy Whool Blazer



The shoes you wear when you dress up smart casual will have a big effect on finishing your look. A pair of high-end sneakers will dress you up while a pair of casual Oxford leather shoes can dress you up.

GEORGE CLEVERLEY Adam Suede Oxford Brogues

Adam Suede Oxford Brogues


TOM FORD Burnished-Leather Sneakers

Burnished-Leather Sneakers


Accessories and Accents

The accessories are great to add a bit of personality to your outfit and to enhance your overall look. You can stay in line with the accessories that support your look, or go in the opposite direction to create your own unique style.

Here are a few hints of accessories so you can keep up your smart casual look for years to come.

J.CREW Dark-Brown Glossed-Leather Belt

Dark-Brown Glossed-Leather Belt


NOMOS GLASHÜTTE Club 38 Campus Nacht 38mm Stainless Steel And Leather Watch

Club 38 Campus Nacht 38mm Stainless Steel And Leather Watch


JAEGER-LECOULTRE Reverso Classic Large 27mm Stainless Steel And Ostrich Watch

Reverso Classic Large 27mm Stainless Steel And Ostrich Watch


BOTTEGA VENETA Intrecciato Leather Billfold Wallet

Intrecciato Leather Billfold Wallet


A safe version of the smart casual look for the after-hours office drinks

7 Fashion pro tips and essential ideas to consistently get your semi casual look on point

We also contacted a group of expert stylists and fashion advisors to ask for their advice on smart casual dress style. Here are their ideas to make you look amazing when you dress casually:

  1. Start with your objectives. This is going to be the foundation of your style. Would you want to build an aura of assurance? Do you want to show that you care about the occasion and that you dress up accordingly? But do you choose to put comfort first and foremost?

  2. Dress up accordingly. Choose an outfit that will help you accomplish your goals.

  3. There are a few timeless things worth spending more in. Some of the things in your wardrobe won’t last longer than a season. You’re not expected to spend too much on those. But the others will stay with you for years to come. This is the case , for example, with a designer blazer, your high-end shoes, or a luxury watch. Decide which parts you want to hold and invest in quality over quantity.

  4. Cover the bases. When you start building your wardrobe, start with neutral colors like black , white, purple, tan, gray and brown for your ensemble. They ‘re all easy to mix and match and they’re never going to go out of fashion.

  5. Elevate and customize your look with one or two items. Once you have the foundation of your style in place, you can add your own personality to your outfit by playing with luxurious fabrics such as silk or cashmere and bolder colours. These should be reserved for your shoes, such as your belt, watch cap, boots, etc.

  6. Consider the chance before choosing a smart casual outfit. Whatever your personal style is, you should still pay careful attention to your setting and social background. Understand what’s planned, and then build your outfit according to your goals.

  7. Just search for the right suit. Nothing is more saddening than watching a man take out the right look with the wrong suit. Whether your clothes are too tight and uncomfortable or too baggy and dirty, it will totally ruin your efforts. If you spend time to establish your style, make sure the implementation is right.

A very polished smart casual look for Spring and Autumn

5 semi casual 2020 brands to follow

When shopping for new clothing, you should always decide what you want first, and then look for the best pieces to complete your look. We don’t suggest that you start by selecting a brand and then search their collections aimlessly.

That said, there are a few selected brands that our style editors prefer to support over others. These are the brands that deliver premium quality at the right price and never seem to disappoint us.

It’s important that you know which brands you can trust when shopping online so that you don’t waste time or money. Here’s our list of the five best casual men ‘s apparel brands.

  1. Polo Ralph Lauren
  2. Tom Ford
  3. J.Crew
  4. Hugo Boss
  5. Tommy Hilfiger

1. Polo Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren is the quintessential American casual style premium brand. The designer brand delivers superb quality with long-lasting products. From their classic Polo shirts to their relaxed chinos, every piece will elevate your style.



Tom Ford

Tom Ford stands for the ultimate blend of bold design and refined fabrics and materials. Add a couple of high-end pieces from Tom Ford ‘s collection to your wardrobe to instantly upgrade your look.


3. J.Crew


J.Crew provides easy-to-wear casual style classics with a high-end finish without breaking the bank. No wonder the low-key luxury brand is winning millions of fans all over the world.


4. Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss is associated with sophisticated casual wear and luxurious luxury. With razor-sharp cuts and quality fabrics, you need to add a degree of elegance to your smart casual wear.


5. Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger is another iconic American fashion brand that effectively mixes traditional timeless style with new smart casual wear.


Semi Casual dress manual: FAQs

You can wear knitwear over your shirt for a seasonal smart casual look

  • Question: Can you wear jeans with a smart casual? Answer: Absolutely, absolutely. Denim jeans are suitable for the smart casual look most of the time. Go for well-fitted dark-colored jeans. Just stay away from casual ripped jeans.

  • Question: How am I supposed to dress smart for an interview? Answer: It depends on the industry and the business you ‘re going to be interviewing. Most of the time, a smart casual look is going to be too casual for a business interview. Instead, you can strive for a formal business style or at least a casual business look.

  • Question: How can I dress smarter? Answer: Start by determining how you want people around you to see you. Follow the basic steps mentioned above and always consider the opportunity before dressing up. That’s going to put you on the right road to dressing smarter every time.

  • Question: How to dress semi-formal for men? Answer: Semi-formal is rather confusing. It’s between smart casual and casual business. If you’re uncertain about goals, err on the side of caution and take a casual business look.

Resources and Recommendations for further reading about semi casual wear

We used a range of reputable sources to help us write this men’s cocktail dress guide. If you want to know more about dress codes in general, we suggest that you read them. These are also fantastic tools if you want to understand a specific aspect of men’s fashion or want to stay up-to - date with the latest trends:

What is the difference between semi formal and semi casual for men?

We’ve been asked this question quite frequently. People are invited to a dinner, and the invitation specifies that you will wear a “semi casual” or even “semi formal” outfit.

So what do you do to dress semi casual?

The lowest or least dressy item in the description is a good rule of thumb. Casual, I ‘d assume that jeans are acceptable, or maybe sandals, or something without socks, but no matter what you wear with those jeans or sandals, you’ll be in the casual category.

Semi formal may have the same guidelines, but on the basis of the word “formal,” assume that they do not want jeans, t-shirts or sockless shoes. The least dressy you ‘d like to wear in this situation will be a pair of pleated trousers, but not necessarily a pants suit, a collar top, and maybe even a suit jacket, and some matching shoes.

Some Quick Examples of Semi Casual Clothing

Semi Formal Warm Weather: Pleated cotton pants, a collared short sleeve shirt tucked in and a tie, a pair of comfortable shoes that aren’t joggers, or runners.

Semi Formal Cold Weather: Dress pants, a collared shirt, no tie, a scarf, and a pair of dress shoes.

Semi Casual Warm Weather: Nice, clean, jeans, a collared short sleeve shirt, and a pair of comfortable shoes or sandals

Semi Casual Cold Weather: Khakis, a collared shirt untucked, a cardigan, and a pair of warm but functional (clean) hiking boots (such as Timberlands)

In Conclusion

The boundaries are getting more blurred between formal and casual, but we think that if you play it on the safe side by dressing up, you ‘re still going to be safe. We hope this guidance has been helpful. If you need more support searching together, feel free to come down to the store and support our professional workers. Don’t hesitate to contact us, too.

Semi Casual Men: Men’s semi casual wear inspiration