There are two words that I absolutely hate to hear together, the first being ‘smart’ and the second being ‘casual’. I absolutely dread attending events that select ‘smart casual’ as the dress code for a number of reasons, although the top three would have to be:
1. Wear a nice shirt.
I always get advised to “wear a nice shirt and jeans / skirt” to a smart casual event. I don’t even know why people would think this is helpful advice because I happen to think all my shirts / jeans / skirts / whatever are nice, in fact, that’s why I wear them in the first place. Despite this, if I turned up in my Comedian shirt (yes, I am a huge ‘Watchmen’ fan) I don’t think anyone would be too impressed.
2. The smart casual continuum.
There are varying levels of smart casual dress and I never seem to hit on the right one for the event – I always feel too overdressed or underdressed. I’ve also noticed that it is a rarity for a majority of the individuals at an event to be at the same level of ‘smart casual’. Usually you can always pick out the individuals who are slightly too overdressed or those who are underdressed. In most cases, I am either slightly overdressed or I am wearing an entirely different style of ‘smart casual’ then everyone else.
3. My wardrobe is basically empty.
Okay, in reality I have a huge amount of clothing, in fact, some may say too much, however, when someone tells me I am required to wear ‘smart casual’, I draw absolute blanks. Not one single outfit instantly jumps out at me going ‘pick me, pick me’. It takes a frustratingly long time for me to decide on an outfit.
Now this may seem a rather odd topic for me to rant about, however, I am attending an smart casual event with my partner in a week time, the event being his cousins engagement party. While I have met my partner’s immediate family (Mother, father, siblings) (and not only like them, but have been received warmly and with approval), I have not met any of his extended family and am quite nervous about this thus I would like to make a good impression. Some people may find it silly to worry about something like this, however, let’s face it, it’s nice to know that your partner’s family approve of you. Since I’m probably not going to be an amazing conversationalist that night (I’m generally quite shy around people I meet), I’d like to at least look nice.
Now according to Wikipedia (obviously the most reliable source of information), smart casual dress for a woman is defined as "slacks or a skirt (long or short), a blouse or turtleneck, a fashionable belt, a jacket, a vest or sweater coordinated to the outfit, hosiery or socks with boots, flats (leather, suede or fabric) or mid-heel shoes" which may be complimented by "jewellery, such as earrings".
Taking that definition, I decided to look into my wardrobe and see what I could come up with. Now, while the term slacks refers to trousers, I only own one black pair that are not jeans and these are ones that I purchased to wear while performing waitress duties while on work placement for hospitality. This lead me to cross that off the list and move on to skirts. My skirt selection was equally depressing with the grand total of two of them being short and black (one being covered in black lace and the other somewhat representing a tutu). I don't own any turtle necks and I only wear grandpa sweaters. My blouse selection is rather varied, however, a majority of them are oversized rather then being neatly cut. I don't wear belts at the best of times and the ones I have tend to be adorned with studs. My small collection of vests make me either represent a pirate, a member of a marching band or a waiter, I do however have a few nice blazers.
In the end I was left with the conclusion that I shall either be attending naked, or with only a blouse and blazer on. To be honest, neither of these options particularly appeal to me (what a surprise!). I personally found the definition of smart casual as one geared to an individual older then myself and therefore of little help. I'll probably be going through my wardrobe in the next couple of days in the hopes of creating an outfit, so except some degree of an update (also, more then welcome to post any helpful links / advice / whatever).
While I'll probably take the easy way out and pair a dress with a blazer and some mid-height heels, I'll still spend hours debating with myself (and my wardrobe) about what to wear. In the end, I'll probably wear the first outfit that I put together, regardless of the 347387439734 outfits I try on afterwards.