Business Casual vs Smart Casual – What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between smart casual and business casual?

Knowing what to wear and when to wear it can be confusing. If you’re going to an interview or starting a new job you might have seen that that company requires you to wear smart casual, or they might require business casual.

These are two of the most common dress codes for jobs in America, but what’s the difference?

Most of us know what ‘business casual’ means, but the term ‘smart casual’ is being use more and more frequently. As a reader of KnownMan, you know how important your style is . It’s going to be critical to creating a good first impression, something that’s invaluable at a new job or an interview.

In this article we’ll be explaining the difference between the two dress codes and also show you an example outfit for each that will keep you looking professional.

Business Casual

Business Casual is the most common dress code for office jobs in America and it’s what you would think of when you think ‘relaxed but corporate’. The key to this dress code is to think of a casual outfit and then add in dressier items.

What is Business Casual for Men?

In this outfit we have combine a light pair of slacks with a smart navy polo, brown loafers, a brown belt, a brown messenger bag and a pair of no-show socks.

This is great for a business casual outfit because you're able to combine more casual clothes (light slacks and the polo) with professional leather pieces.​

Smart Casual

Smart Casual is more common in Europe than in America but it’s gaining popularity. This dress code can be thought of as ‘dressed down smart’. The key is to pick a business outfit and then replace some items with more casual alternatives.

What is Smart Casual for Men?

This outfit was inspired by an outfit that David Gandy wore in an old interview. We chose a smart pair of navy dress pants and combined that with a white dress shirt from Thom Browne and a black v-neck sweater. This will give you a great smart, yet still casual look.

For the other pieces we wanted a dark brown that wouldn't look out of place with the dark navy and black clothes. Therefore, we chose a dark brown belt and matching shoes. We also selected a dark wool peacoat that would look great over the top of this outfit.​

About the author

Jack Prenter

Jack has been fascinated by fashion for decades and spent huge amounts of time researching it and becoming an expert. He's written for many well-known publications and is in the process of opening an online clothing store for men. Jack studied at the University of Nottingham and is now based out of Toronto, Canada.