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Wearing the correct dress for any occasion is a matter of good manners. - Loretta Young
Dressing up for a gathering or occasion is simple, once you know what to wear. The important part is deciding what to wear, so that you do not look overdressed or under-dressed. Many occasions will ask for a smart casual dress code and this is somewhat confusing since it does not clearly outline what you're expected to turn up in. After all, what does smart casual mean? Black tie, cocktail attire, formals - these are all self-explanatory, and therefore, easier to adhere to. But when it comes to 'smart casuals', there's confusion trying to decipher what it really means.

The difficulty with a smart casual dress code is that it is often used interchangeably with a business casual dress code. But there is a difference between semi-formal business attire and smart casual dressing. Outlined below are some tips you can use where smart casual dressing is concerned.

Guidebook to Smart Casual Dressing

Smart Casuals for Men

Dos
You can pair up collared t-shirts with chinos, dockers, khakis or linen trousers.
Your socks should be the color of your shoes.
Shoes worn should complement the trouser color and also be well-polished.
If you choose to wear a belt, then keep the color and texture sober.
Jackets, sweaters and vests can be worn if the weather permits.
Men can also wear scarves or hats, to give a classic touch to the attire.
Golf attire is an example of smart casual dress code. Golfers are considered as the pioneers of this style as they wear collared shirts with semi-formal trousers while playing.
Smart casuals are an all time wear. They can be worn during the day, as well as at night.

Don'ts
Sport shoes and flip flops are an absolute no when it comes to smart casual dressing.
Wearing jeans is not permissible as jeans come under absolutely casual clothing.
You should refrain from wearing belts that have big flashy buckles and decoration like studs, metal spikes and the likes, on them.
If you choose to wear a jacket, make sure it is not a blazer or a very formal suit jacket.
Ties and bows should not be worn at all.
Sports caps and gym wear should not be worn as it defeats the whole purpose of dressing smart and casual.
T-shirts with loud colors and wordings are not part of this dress code.

Smart Casuals for Women

Dos
Wear comfortable low-heeled shoes like ballerinas, moccasins, ankle boots, and the likes.
Stockings are preferred over socks.
You can wear trousers, pairing them with a cute blouse or a semi-formal shirt.
A satin blouse with leggings or skin-fit pants (not jeans) also looks fabulous.
If the weather permits, you can try on a nice jacket, stitched in tweed, linen or cotton.
Women have it easy when it comes to accessories. They just need a light scarf, nice belt, a fashionable bag and some jewelry and they are set.
Day dresses teamed with ballerinas or low-heeled pumps are a big hit this season.
If you are dressing smart and casual during the day, then keep the colors light and sober. If you have an occasion at night which requires smart casuals, then you could play around with colors and see which complements you the best.

Don'ts
Denim jeans are an absolute no when it comes to this style of dressing.
Leather jackets, thick sweaters or even blazers should be avoided.
High-heeled shoes, full-length boots, flip flops, sport shoes, canvas shoes are not part of this style of dressing and therefore, should not be worn.
If you are carrying a bag, make sure that it is a purse and not a sling bag.
Skirts should not be too short as they come under absolute casual or club-wear clothing.
Refrain from wearing t-shirts and tank tops with loud colors and wordings.
The makeup you wear should not be too official, but not too causal either. It should be a blend between office wear and casual.
Avoid formal hairstyles and makeup. Try to keep your makeup natural and fresh.

The main criterion of this style of dressing is keeping the look casual yet elegant. The following quote is apt for a smart casual dress code.
"It's not what you spend but how you wear it that counts. The key is often to dress up inexpensive basics with accessories. Something like a beautiful designer bag or belt can make everything else look richer and more luxurious."- Chloe Sevigny