We have received an invitation to an event where the suggested dress code is smart casual. This has thrown us into a tizzy, prompting us to ask a lot of dumb questions about smart casual.
Does smart casual require we bring academic transcripts? Perhaps pin them to our chests or randomly pull them from our pockets when the conversation lags?
If there is such a thing as smart casual, doesn’t that infer that there must also be a not-so-smart casual? If there are pictures of what not-so-smart casual looks like, we might be better able to deduce what smart casual looks like. We are the people who learn more by looking at “what not to wear.”
If we don’t come dressed smart casual, will the assumption be that our intelligence levels are subpar?
Does a hoodie sweatshirt emblazoned with Oxford or Yale count as smart casual?
I didn’t think so. Just asking for a friend.
Further complicating matters, how does smart casual differ from snappy casual, glitzy casual, dressy casual, party casual and business casual?
Of course, the bottom-line question with every stated dress code is, “Can I wear jeans?”
Jeans have become the global default.
Often, we get ready to go somewhere and the husband asks, “Can I wear jeans?”
It’s a trap and I’ve learned how to maneuver around it.
“The jeans you just did yardwork in?” I ask.
“No, of course not.”
What he’s not saying is that he’s thinking of wearing the jeans he did yardwork in a couple of weeks ago, which look better than the ones he did yardwork in today.
My answer is usually no, just like it will be no to jeans for smart casual. But that’s just me and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t wear jeans for smart casual. Casual is in the eye of the beholder.
Of course, there will also be those wondering if ripped jeans with the horizontal shreds qualify for smart casual.
Absolutely not. Those fall into the category of “overpriced casual.”
The trend is toward more and more casual. I’m waiting for the pendulum to swing back in the other direction - you know, when putting bling on jeans doesn’t mean you’re ready for the theater and when Casual Friday becomes Collared-Shirt Friday.
A friend recently received a wedding invitation that stated the attire will be “picnic casual.”
That’s certainly better defined than “picnic formal.” Jeans would be entirely acceptable. Perhaps even jean shorts. It might even be a good idea to toss swimsuits in the back seat of the car. Guests might also consider bringing their own fried chicken and potato salad.
Going casual is a lot more work than it used to be.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.