Definition of smart casual dress for ladies

Oftentimes the term smart casual is listed on a dress code policy or an event invitation. This can leave the reader wondering exactly what sort of wardrobe this entails. Dating back to the 1920s, the term smart casual encompasses a wide variety of options of ladies, allowing the woman to be able to mix and match separates and have more versatility in her overall wardrobe.


When a dress code requires smart casual it means to adhere to the dress code but in a comfortable manner. Smart casual dress is polished but informal.


Smart casual is an American term that was first mentioned in the 1920s. The 1924 May issue of an Iowa newspaper, The Davenport Democrat and Leader was the first documented use of the word, "The sleeveless dress with three-quarter overblouses, in smock appearance completing it for street wear, is accorded various interpretations. It is at once practised and gives a smart casual appearance."


Ladies who are required to wear smart casual would be appropriate in slacks, a skirt or formal denim. The skirt can be long or short and slacks can be neutral coloured in cotton, cotton blends, linen and polyester blends. If denim is worn on the bottom, the woman should opt for a more formal top or blazer to avoid being too casual.


Appropriate tops for ladies dressing smart casual would be blouses, turtlenecks, sweaters, jackets or blazers that correspond with their bottoms. Avoid T-shirts, spaghetti strap tops and tube tops as they are too casual and revealing. Stick with a jacket or blazer when wearing denim on the bottom.


A mid-heel shoe or dressier flats are most appropriate for ladies who are dress smart casual. Shoes should be well-polished and in good condition. Simple and casual jewellery is appropriate that matches the overall outfit. Large amounts of jewels or diamonds would be too dressy.

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About the Author

Shauna Heathman is a certified image consultant with a passion for writing, and has been writing since 2006. She has maintained a blog of her own for three years in which she writes on topics concerning self development, appearance, style, etiquette and communications. Heathman has a bachelor's degree in communication studies and an entrepreneurship certificate from the University of Iowa.