Monday, March 26, 2007

Defining "Smart Casual"

“Smart Casual” just means dress to look smart and respectable, even if you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed. Note the term isn’t “geek casual”, so looking smart does not translate to looking like the Google founders pre-public listing (yes, money buys you your personal stylist). Simply “casual” dress code is another way of saying “dress comfortably”.

Most style guides were written with the U.S. corporate dress code in mind, so you will find that “smart casual” based on these write-ups are typically a sport coat or suit jacket worn over a button down shirt without a tie and paired with jeans or khakis. Yes, that looks cool but it isn’t the most comfortable for our climate. Wear it here and you may find yourself being ushered to the stage and given the microphone when you get to the event you have been invited to. Here’s something that’s more appropriate for the Filipino male.


Short sleeved or long sleeved shirts are both acceptable. Smart casual dressing typically rules out sport shirts since these are reserved for simply “casual” dressing. The safest is to choose plain colored shirts. If your event is happening during the day, opt for light colored, short sleeved shirts while dark colored and patterned long sleeved shirts are preferred for evening invitations.

“Can’t I wear printed shirts? Traditional shirts make me look so stiff.” Okay, let’s get things straight (no, not your sexual orientation)… stiffness, (wipe that thought off, we’re talking about clothes) is not caused by the type of shirt you use. It’s the attitude you project when you’re not comfortable and confident with what you’re wearing. The only way smart “traditional” shirts can make you look stiff is if your maid put too much starch on them. Don’t have time to pick the right pattern? Then a plain black shirt is your safest bet. Tucked or untucked? Your call.


Pants are really simple – unpleated, tailored-fit and no cuffs.

Pleats are out – for now. (If you’re asking why, you’re probably still wearing double-breasted suits.) Pleats, the folds on the front of your pants, were created to provide more flexibility. On the down side, they can make you bulge if your pants don’t fit correctly or if they were not ironed properly. For a neater, slimmer look, unpleated pants are the way to go.

The fit of your pants is critical. If you don’t have custom-tailored pants, invest on some; start with 3 basic colors -- grey, black and navy blue. Tip: Don’t go to your Dad’s tailor.

Cuffs break the length of your pants and can make your legs look shorter. It also takes away from the smooth, clean silhouette that perfect-fitting unpleated pants create. So for us who have been eating Star™ rice and are still taking 1-6-12 vitamins, cuffs off!

For slightly more dressed down events, pairing your shirts with khaki chinos (for daytime) and dark jeans are also acceptable.


Loafers or slip-ons complete your look. Black typically goes well with dark colored pants, while brown loafers pair well with brown slacks, khakis and light grey. This is also a good opportunity to wear your boots; no not the cowboy type.

Pointy, slim shoes compliment your tailored-fit pants. They say you can tell the type of man by his shoes. Don’t worry, wearing a pair of loafers does not make you one.


Carlina said...

Good post!! I found at Eddie Bauer store very nice collection of casual wear at reasonable price..

Anonymous said...

thank you so much! at least now i have an idea what "smart casual" is and i think i'm ready for our seminar.. again, thanks so much! -)