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As the traditional standards of dress eroded, smart casual was the hastily erected bulwark against total sartorial chaos.“Smart casual suggests a transitional period between dressing up – that’s to say, more formally – and dressing down with the comfort and self-expression that more and more men are looking for,” says Sims. Or men in blazers and open-neck business shirts.”Don’t be those guys.“The term also suggests a kind of panic among ‘authorities’ – restaurant managers, event organisers – as to how to handle the shift, so they’ve gone for some halfway house: dress casually but, you know, not too casually, please. Smart casual means nothing, so it can mean anything.These are people who get straight A’s, sit in the front, and perhaps enjoy crossword puzzles. They like to believe the volume, and precision, of their knowledge can somehow compensate for their lack of experience applying it in the real world.Thinking about things has value, but imagining how you will handle a tough situation is a world away from actually being in one (As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club – “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight? Like the stereotypical ROTC idiot in war movies (e.g.Trying to find the true meaning of the phrase smart casual can quickly turn into a nightmare.The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code”.
But while it might sound obscure, this last point is perhaps as good as any to start from.And as the latter indicates, many of these guides feel like they were set in stone shortly after the ten commandments.Whatever smart casual means, it’s likely to be something different today than it was in the starch-collared 19th century.“Smart casual is destined to be one of those terms that history will not be kind to,” says Josh Sims, author of .Part of the reason that smart casual is so hard to define is that it can mean radically different things in different contexts.It’s a state of mind as much as dress.“Smartness is more a matter of the appearance of your clothes rather than their style,” writes Sir Hardy Amies in .