Smart Casual Workwear Essentials

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In my latest IG reel, I share my core smart casual wardrobe essentials and the pieces I’ve been relying on when I’ve been heading into the office. There are 11 items in total, and while I tried to contain it to a top 10, purely because 10 is a tidy number, I honestly couldn’t pick the weakest link of the bunch as I think all 11 items are worthy of a place in your smart casual wardrobe.

The definition of the “smart casual” dress code remains a contentious one. As you can probably gather from the name, it sits between formal wear and everyday casual attire. It’s also referred to as “business casual” in some office environments.

Women have it tougher than men when trying to figure out how to dress smart casual, particularly given high heels and a tailored dress can tip you into formal territory. On the other end of the spectrum, many interpret the ‘casual’ gives a green light to denim but I think jeans are still off limits in the office, unless it’s Friday or you’ve got a networking event/conference that’s a more laidback affair.

Here are my 11 wardrobe staples that perfect nail the smart casual brief.

Lilysilk blouse* (sz S – new season version linked), Frankie Shop trousers (sz S), Gucci loafers (also here – watch my styling video here)

#1 – Silk blouse – this black Lilysilk blouse (new version linked) has been in my wardrobe for over 3 years and it strikes the perfect balance between polished and relaxed. A shirt is a must-have in any professional wardrobe and I rely on a silk blouse to check this box as I prefer its softer and more feminine take on a traditional button-up shirt.

#2 – Relaxed trousers – if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll be no stranger to these pants – I own them in 3 colours. I wear these to the office as well as in casual looks because they’re one of the easiest things in my wardrobe to style.

#3 – Loafers – a no brainer for my smart casual wardrobe essentials. My loafers of choice are these Gucci beauties (also available here) I picked up a couple of years ago. You can watch my video on how I like styling them here.

The Fold blazer* (sz UK 8), Arket tee (sz S), Uniqlo trousers (sz S), Sarah Flint kitten heels* (use ‘SARAHFLINT-BAWHATVEEWORE’ for $50USD off)

#4 – Blazer – another no-brainer for the office as it provides instant hit of formality when worn. I often pair this blazer over a crew neck tee and will wear either slim trousers or a pair of jeans depending on how relaxed I want to pitch things. This navy style is from The Fold and it’s one of my favourite styles in my wardrobe. It’s so easy to maintain thanks to the crepe fabric that’s both travel friendly and machine washable.

#5 – Crew neck tee – a classic wardrobe staple for both work and play. My crew neck tee of choice is this one from Arket. It’s the only crew neck t-shirt I wear and recommend after much trial and error.

#6 – Slim trousers – I’ve included a second pair of trousers in this round up as I feel the slim silhouette provides a dressier option on those days where you’ve got important meetings or events. Bonus points if they pair well with the blazers in your rotation. I’m wearing an old pair from Uniqlo that have been a hardworking staple of mine for over 4 years and were incredibly friendly on the hip pocket too.

#7 – Kitten heels – a sensible low-heel like these kitten heels I’m sporting are excellent for taking your outfit to more formal territory. I don’t commute in heels as much as I used to but these are comfortable enough that you can do that. The 5cm height means you’re actually walking, as opposed to clomping, to your destination.

Everlane blazer* (sz US 0), Arket merino top (sz S – new colours linked), Anine Bing skirt (sz S – also here), Sarah Flint flats (use ‘SARAHFLINT-BAWHATVEEWORE’ for $50USD off – review here)

#8 – Layering knit – another wardrobe staple, for both work and play, is this merino knit top from Arket. I own it in 6 colours and it’s the perfect base layer as it’s thin but provides the warmth and breathability that you need to go about your day. It was made to be worn under a blazer and is available in a host of different colours. I wear a size S due to the slim cut style and it’s perfect.

#9 – Midi skirt – I initially bought this skirt (also here) as more of an occasion piece but this has formed part of my everyday and workwear wardrobes because of how easy it is to style. I recently picked up the steel blue version of the skirt because I love the style so much. The midi length makes it conservative enough to wear to the office but the fluid silk fabric means you’re giving the traditional stuffy workwear silhouette a break from the good ol’ pencil skirt (which is a tad too formal for smart casual).

#10 – Relaxed blazer – I’m adding a second (and more relaxed) blazer to the list as I think an oversized blazer is the perfect addition to your smart casual rotation. This blazer, with its lighter neutral tone, strikes the right balance between relaxed and polished thanks to the structure in the shoulders. I take a size 0 in this blazer and it’s a tad long on the arms. But rather than have these taken up by the tailor, I quite enjoy styling my look by pushing up the sleeves. It adds to the overall relaxed vibe of my outfit!

#11 – Pointed-toe flats – and to cap it off, the dressiest of flats is undoubtedly the pointed variety. Not only are they comfortable, but they elevate the most basic of outfits. I’m wearing a pair from Sarah Flint (you might recognise these as the pair Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wore when she was schlepping around the Invictus Games with Prince Harry.

And that’s a wrap on my 11 smart casual wardrobe essentials! I hope you found this helpful.

As always, thanks for stopping by!


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