How to Dress Smart Casual (Females)

Three Methods:Creating a Smart EnsembleAccessorizing Your OutfitIncorporating Your Own Style

Dressing “smart casual” is another way to say dressing stylish casual. Dressing smart casual essentially means dressing in a casual manner that is a bit more fancy by creating a neat, fashionable, and accessorized outfit. Dressing smart casual can sometimes be a challenge, however there are some simple tips you can keep in mind when planning your outfit.

Method 1
Creating a Smart Ensemble

  1. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 1
    Think about what bottoms to wear. For a smart casual outfit, you must balance flairs of professionalism and fashion.[1] Consider wearing bottoms that are comfortable but sharp looking; they need to be able to pull through a professional yet casual look. For example, a nice pair of slacks, darker-colored conservative skirts, and even a dark wash pair of jeans can all be appropriate bottoms for a smart casual outfit.[2] Most times, your bottoms can act as a base from which you create your ensemble outfit.
    • Your bottoms can absolutely incorporate a pop of color.[3] You could wear something like a brown or dark green skirt, navy blue slacks, or a dark, indigo wash pair of jeans.[4]
    • If you decide to wear a skirt, it must be a business appropriate length (at least to the top of your knees).
    • However, keep in mind that if your bottoms include color and are more fashionable, you should try to balance your outfit with a milder, yet chic top.
  2. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 2
    Pair your bottoms with an appropriate top. Since smart casual is all about balancing, your top must equalize your outfit. If your bottoms are dressier, your top can be more casual (ruffles, color, accents, prints, etc.). If your bottoms are more casual, dress up your outfit by sporting a sleeker, more professional top.
    • A professional top would be a button-down shirt, a dressy blouse, or a collared top.[5]
    • Again, your top can incorporate color, it just has to stabilize out your outfit. If your bottoms are a muted color, opt for a colored shirt.[6] If your bottoms are the outfit piece adding color, wear a more neutral top.
  3. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 3
    Wear a dress. Wearing a dress is a safe choice if you are trying to dress smart casual. A dress immediately elevates the “dressiness” of your outfit, but the print or material of the dress can add a needed casual element.[7] No matter what kind of dress you choose to wear, the hem of the dress should reach at least the top of your knees.[8] If you have a professional looking dress (conservative length, darker color), you can dress it down by pairing it with casual accessories like a colored scarf or simple, yet stylish jewelry.[9]
    • Vice versa, if you have a more casual dress, you can spruce up the look by pairing it with stylish and conservative heels and simple, clean cut jewelry.
    • When wearing a dress for a smart casual outfit, choose to keep it simple. When in doubt, you rather your outfit come off as more dressy than casual.[10]
  4. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 4
    Add a blazer. A blazer is a great outfit piece that can add a professional tone to your outfit, but still keep it casual when paired with a softer top.[11] If you’re considering wearing a blazer, make sure it has a fitted cut. This tailored piece can make your outfit look a bit more put together, while your other clothing items channel the more casual side of your ensemble.
    • A plain black or navy blue blazer can incorporate a more professional feel, while a colored blazer can add in a pop of color as an accent piece.[12]
  5. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 5
    Slip on appropriate shoes. For a smart casual outfit, consider finishing your ensemble with a comfortable pair of dress shoes. Heels work great, and close-toed pumps are always a safe choice to complete your look.[13] Flats can also be an option if you want to go for a more casual look.
    • You can make your outfit stand out while maintaining a casual look by having your flats be a main fashion statement. They can be colored or patterned, but it must balance out your outfit of mainly neutral, composed pieces.[14]
    • Wedges and some opened toed shoes can also work for a smart casual outfit if you are attending a more casual event. However, if you are dressing for work, stay away from these options.[15][16]
    • Avoid wearing sandals with a smart casual outfit; sandals are plain casual.

Method 2
Accessorizing Your Outfit

  1. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 6
    Wear suitable jewelry. Accessories are often the outfit pieces that can firmly establish the feel of your ensemble. They can dramatically push an outfit toward being more “smart,” or more casual.[17] For example, statement necklaces are usually go-to pieces of jewelry that can liven up and dress up a plainer outfit.[18] They can include color and act as an accent to an otherwise muted outfit.
    • This same principle goes for earrings. You still want your earrings to be simple, but they can add some flair and elevate to your outfit.
    • If your outfit is already a bit varied with colors and prints, consider toning down to jewelry to balance your look out.[19]
  2. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 7
    Wear a belt. Accessorizing your outfit with a belt can add a pop of color to your look, function as a statement piece, or add a bit of texture to your outfit. For example, if your outfit consists of mostly matte fabrics, you can wear a patterned or patent belt to make your ensemble a bit more interesting and add a little variety.[20] Depending on what kind of belt you use, incorporating one into your outfit can make your look more fun and fashionable (if the belt is colored), or more put together and smart (if the belt is more modest).
    • Thin belts tend to look really nice with dresses, and wide belts can pair well with longer skirts.[21]
  3. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 8
    Sport a watch. Wearing a watch may bleed over into jewelry territory, but it can be a separate accessory in it’s own right. Try to pick a watch that is simple, yet can make a statement. For example, a watch with a slightly bigger face, but a simple band can make a great accessory addition. Or, if your watch is going to have a bit more color in the band, make sure the face of the watch isn’t so big and bold.
    • Another thing to consider is the material of the watch. Your watch should be some sort of metal (silver, gold, platinum), but the metal color should go with the other metal pieces in your outfit.
    • For example, if your shoes and purse have gold detailing, avoid wearing a silver colored watch.
  4. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 9
    Carry a purse. A colorful or unique purse can act as a statement piece to a calmer, more conservative outfit. Conversely, a stylish and simple bag can elevate a more casual outfit. Your purse does not have to match your outfit, but if you already have a color piece in your ensemble (top, blazer, shoes, etc.), you might want to keep your purse color on the more reserved side.
    • Any purse that you use should be sleek and fashionable, no matter which way your outfit is leaning toward. For example, if you purse if smaller, it could be a bit more playful and flashy when paired with a casual outfit. [22] If your purse is bigger, keep it simple and modest when paired with a more colorful outfit.[23]
  5. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 10
    Consider wearing a scarf. A scarf can serve as a simple accessory that can add a little variety to your outfit.[24] You don’t want the scarf to overpower your outfit, but enhance it in a small way. A scarf can always add a bit of color to your outfit, while sometimes lending a more fashionable feel, depending on the print and fabric.
    • If your outfit consists of mainly dark colors, consider pairing it with a graphic scarf.[25]

Method 3
Incorporating Your Own Style

  1. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 11
    Wear your favorite print or color. For business suits, the classic attire can be rather boring. Consider switching up your business look by wearing a blouse that is your favorite print of color. Adding in this variety can keep your outfit looking appropriate and smart, while also letting your personal fashion sense shine through.[26]
  2. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 12
    Soften your look with a sweater. Blazers are a great way to embellish a smart casual outfit, but if you want to go for a softer look, consider wearing a colorful cardigan or wrap sweater.[27] The color of the cardigan can be a statement color, or it can be an accent color to an otherwise muted-toned outfit.
    • If you are always chilly, a turtleneck is also a viable option for a smart casual sweater look.
  3. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 13
    Renovate your work basics. In many business settings, pantsuits are a norm. Switch up the norm by updating your normal pantsuits for ones with slimmer silhouettes. Slimmer silhouettes can flatter your figure while staying modest, and you can mix and match your pantsuit combinations.[28]
  4. Image titled Dress Smart Casual (Females) Step 14
    Always wear at least one statement piece. Dressing stylish everyday might be exhausting, but when in doubt (and running low on work appropriate outfits) always wear at least one statement piece.[29] That means, if your dress is going to be pretty boring for the day, make sure your shoes, or you necklace, or your belt is making a fashion statement.
    • Your statement piece could be colorful, or printed, or embellished. This is the easiest way to make sure your outfit is incorporating the “smart” part of smart casual.


  • Relax and feel comfortable.
  • Avoid heavy makeup.
  • Ensure that everything you wear is in good condition.
  • Make sure you are well groomed.

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Categories: Fashion