What Is Smart-Casual Attire for Women?

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Smart-casual attire for women denotes a look that is polished, professional, conservative and well-pulled together but not dressy or formal. Elements for a smart-casual look can include trousers with a jacket and tasteful jewelry, medium-height heels, a sweater and skirt, and leather accessories. Evening or cocktail dresses are too formal for a smart-casual look, while sundresses, athletic shoes and thong sandals are often too casual.

Fabrics often used with a smart-casual look include corduroy, suede, cashmere, cotton, linen, wool and tweed. Many tend to shy away from colors such as black or navy, which are seen as more formal.

The concept of smart-casual attire as a dress code is a vague one, and people disagree about whether certain articles of clothing, such as jeans, qualify as smart-casual attire. Smart-casual attire is similar to the equally vague business-casual type of dress, but it is usually considered to be a little more casual. While smart-casual style is open to interpretation in specific circumstances, it often includes light colors and patterns, soft fabrics and noncontroversial designs. A smart-casual look is often defined as one that can work equally well in a variety of settings, such as at work, on dates and when attending social events.