How to master smart-casual this Summer

20 May 2018

Walking the line between smart and casual can be tricky, especially during the Summer months, when the weather is hot and humid and we would normally opt for lightweight fabrics that fall loosely around us. Smart dressing does not need to equate to sweat-inducing tight fitting pieces, well chosen fabrics and expert tailoring can find the middle ground between casual and formal, without compromising on your style. It is entirely possible to achieve a polished, semi formal outfit that is still comfortable and breathable under the baking sun.

Follow our tips below for smart summer dressing.

Typically, formal clothing is made from synthetic fabrics, or at least blended with synthetic fibres. The use of synthetics is partly due to beneficial properties such as anti-wrinkling, or the ability to add lustre or volume without dramatically raising the price tag. Wearing head to toe synthetic fabric can come at a different kind of cost however, as they make us sweat more and can irritate sensitive skin.

When choosing clothes for summer, take note of the fabrics used. Cotton and Linen are two natural fabrics that have skin soothing properties, allowing the skin to breathe without causing excess sweat or irritation. Polyester and Viscose (Rayon) are two widely used synthetic fabrics, that can wreak havoc on warm skin, trapping the airflow and causing moisture to build up in the garment which can cause unpleasant odours, particularly in hot climates. Don't be fooled by the lightweight breezy feel of synthetic garments, instead choose cotton, which will ensure comfortable wear even in the heat. Your armpits will thank you.

The high heat of Summer will inevitability have us opting for more forgiving fits, with looser shapes and softer structures. These features usually go hand in hand with casual clothing, however there is an in-between. Unstructured blazers or tailored culottes are a prime example of this, allowing more comfort and space to breath while still offering a smart aesthetic. If you choose an oversized shirt or loose fitting item, the look can be balanced with accessories to prevent it moving too far in the casual direction. Accessories such as an statement sunglasses, a trilby hat or oversized belt can ensure your outfit looks put-together rather than thrown-together. Balance can also be achieved with a more fitted top or bottom half, in contrast to a relaxed silhouette.


Summer wardrobes commonly have a reputation for being scattered with bright pops of colour or garish patterns we wouldn't dream of wearing the rest of the year. Whether you're scared of colour or embrace a bright wardrobe, colour really is your best friend if used wisely. Injecting a pop of colour into your outfit can direct attention to a certain area, adding a summer vibe without looking too casual. A statement patterned jacket can lighten up a simple outfit, a colourful pair of shoes can prevent an all black ensemble from looking too uniform-like. How statement or subtle you go is entirely your choice. Colours such as white, khaki, beige and pale blues offer a summery colour palette than remain sophisticated and easy to style, as well as flattering all skin tones.

Trends come and go. Certain classic designs remain timeless. Jumping on every trend is a sure way to look like a fashion victim. Pay attention to emerging trends, and experiment with ones that resonate with you, but stay true to your own style. At risk of sounding like a fridge magnet, the key to looking good is confidence. Confidence comes from feeling relaxed. Cramming yourself into a loud jumpsuit that you feel will earn you fashion points but you can barely move in, will only result in you twitching all evening and looking uncomfortable. Keep it simple, choose styles that you know you look good in, express your personality through interesting accessories. If you always go for statement pieces then by all means don't let us stop you, so long as you feel relaxed and can still enjoy a twitch-free time of socialising in the heat.

Carefully chosen footwear can elevate your look from casual to smart in a matter of seconds. Leave the pineapple-embroidered straw espadrilles at home, and opt for formal shoes that complement the colours of your outfit. Fabric here really is key. Swap canvas plimsolls for leather brogues, slip ons for lace ups, and flats for wedges. Heels are not a necessity, but they are certainly an easy way of transforming a look from day to night. Flat options can still add a formal feel, choose lace up options with peep toes, in structured fabrics.