I used to find ‘smart casual’ one of the hardest dress codes to dress for. However, over the years I’ve come to realise that it all comes down to one simple but effective trick; mixing a a more formal piece with a casual piece. The formal / casual contrast balances out the outfit creating a look that is put together, without over the top. Below are three outfit ideas for stying jeans in a smart casual way.
1. Jeans and a Blazer
A blazer and jeans is the perfect example of how this formula works in practice. You don’t have to relegate blazers to your work wear wardrobe. Pairing a blazer with jeans dresses down this otherwise tailored, corporate piece and creates this effortlessly elegant look. I’d opt for heels for a night event or a pair of strappy sandals or ballet flats for a day time event. It’s also a perfect combination for transitional dressing in spring and autumn as the blazer guards against the chill. I like how the above black blazer and white cropped jeans creates a high contrast look which makes a statement sans any colour, except for the red lip. Alternatively, if you want to tone things down a tad, I wore this same combination with brown sandals and a brown bag to the pub on a Friday night. You can find more tips for styling blazers and jeans here.
2. Dressing up a t-shirt and jeans with accessories
While a white tee and jeans often springs to mind as your quintessential “wardrobe basics” outfit – it doesn’t have to be. Accessories can really elevate this otherwise simple look. I love outfits like this because they create a blank canvas and allow plenty of room to play with statement accessories. You can add a bold pair of heels, handbag or jewellery without it feeling over the top. This is also a great way to add a pop of colour to your outfit.
3. Jeans and a statement top
Statement tops + jeans is an effective smart casual outfit formal. Tops make a statement through the fabric (think ruffles, lace, sequins), colour (for example, a bold colour, print or pattern) or silhouette (such as balloon sleeves or an asymmetrical neckline) and dresses things up (sometimes a combination of the above). Denim jeans, on the other hand, create a neutral base which balances out the drama without distracting your eye or competing with the detailing. At the same time the statement top adds something a bit special to an otherwise simple pair of jeans.