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Guide to Nailing a “Smart Casual” Dress Code

A “smart casual” dress code is one of the trickiest to dress for. But what does that even mean? Often suggested for informal work socials or networking events, smart casual style revolves around building an outfit that’s relaxed yet still professional. Sound like a sartorial challenge? It certainly is—but with the right tips and tricks, you can easily nail it.

What pieces should you think about investing in for smart casual dressing? First, look out for staples that you likely already own in your work wardrobe: blazers, dress pants, button-up shirts, skirts. Then think about ways to dress them down: pairing a dressier blazer with jeans or a casual tee with a streamlined skirt. It’s all about that juxtaposition. Sleek accessories—a leather shoulder bag, a chunky loafer—will also elevate any look and make it feel dressy (even if you’re in jeans).

Striking that right balance between dressy and dressed down is certainly an art—but luckily there’s a handful of celebrities who’ve nailed the look this summer. From Kendall Jenner to Gabrielle Union, these six stylish stars below offer a variety of styling tips that are easy to replicate. Plus see how you can easily shop their looks too.

Do invest in the perfect white tee

A classic white tee is a forever wardrobe essential and it can always be dressed up or down. It’s the perfect piece for incorporating into a smart casual wardrobe. Do like Jennifer Lawrence, for instance, and pair it with a pleated wide-leg dress pant: The minimal pairing feels clean and polished—especially when coupled with a statement leather sandal and leather shoulder bag in the summer. Layer in some gold necklaces and add a dad cap, and you’ve got yourself a look.

Let the trouser be the focal point

A smart casual look is all about allowing one dressy piece to ground the entire outfit. Jennifer Lopez, for one, revolved her put-together look around a pair of white wide-leg trousers. A professional summery piece, she then paired it with a sandy silk button-up shirt and matching top-handle bag (hers is a luxurious Hermès Birkin bag—but any sleek style will do). You can have fun with your accessories—like her giant aviators—to make it feel more relaxed and casual.

Think in neutral tones

Neutral shades like black, brown, white, and gray will always read more dressy—even if the pieces themselves are casual. Just take Gabrielle Union, who stepped out in a silky white two-piece set this summer. Though it’s essentially loungewear, she still looked elegant and effortless—the perfect mix for nailing a smart casual dress code. Her square-toe heels and color-block Prada bag helped in that department too. (Don’t underestimate the power of accessories!)

Look out for elevated basics

You likely already own a great cardigan and pair of jeans in your closet—but for an outfit to read smart casual, you’ll want to slightly upgrade these everyday pieces. Katie Holmes, for instance, wore a denim-and-knitwear combo—but her jeans were embellished and her cardigan had a boxy, oversized fit. These modern accents instantly elevated the look and made it feel more dressy, as did her satiny ballet flats and great statement earring.

Rethink the blazer

Model Kendall Jenner is a master at dressy casual style, and she often nails the look by styling a classic blazer—an office clothes staple you likely already own! Forgoing the traditional two-piece suit, she often dresses it down with a pair of micro shorts and skirts—and then pairs it with an oversized white button-up shirt. Her accessories, like a dad cap or leather loafers, also give it a more casual slant. Don’t forget the structured leather tote.

Go all in on a power coat

An easy styling trick for nailing smart casual in the cooler months? Revolving an outfit around a great statement coat. A classic khaki trench coat, for one, will never go out of style—and you can pair your more dressed-down pieces with it to make it feel smart casual. Hailey Bieber, for one, wore her trench with a white tee, denim jorts, and fisherman sandals. Throw on a smart coat, and it can instantly transform your entire outfit. Who doesn’t love a lazy styling hack?

This article was originally published on Vogue US.

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