Smart-casual: what does it actually mean? Party season’s go-to dress code presents an array of menswear conundrums, and the perfect chord is hard to strike. Jeans are so often met with scorn, no matter how much you spent on them. And too much tailoring can make it seem like you don’t know how to let your hair down. But just when we were about to bid adieu to office parties altogether, our friends at Ted Baker have thrown out a life ring.
And a good looking one at that – a tightly edited range of polished but relaxed separates. We’ve teamed up with the British brand to present all the middle-ground problem solvers, and save you any side-eye this season.
The Statement Blazer
The statement blazer might divide opinion, but it will always finish an outfit. Take the classic white tee and dark jeans combo, for example. Alone, a solid (but forgettable) off-duty look. With a statement blazer, it becomes not only polished, but memorable.
And not all possess the subtlety of a foghorn, either. True, patterned options cater to the peacocks and provide impact everywhere from nights-out to Christmas dos, but a not-so-traditional colourway or textured fabric can up the volume too.
Just ensure your surrounding pieces are restrained to let the blazer speak for itself.
The Slimline Bomber Jacket
From the skies above to the street style squad below, the bomber jacket won’t leave menswear’s radar.
And the more we wear it, the harder brands work to make the bomber fit all occasions, even those that usually call for something smarter – good news if you prefer your smart-casual looks without rigid tailoring.
Team one of Ted’s luxurious leather, suede or woollen options with a monochrome trouser and pair of classic brogues, and you’ll keep your look sky high.
Dark Wash Denim
Scuffs and tears might tot up points in the streetwear game, but for smart-casual? Not now. Not ever. But that doesn’t mean denim is out of bounds.
Darker washes in straight or tapered cuts mimic the classic trouser, meaning they sit just as pretty with an Oxford shirt, blazer and Derbies as they do your white tee and Vans. More importantly though, a dark jean’s ability to flit between off-duty and office Christmas party means better bang for your buck.
The Printed Shirt
The printed shirt is nothing new, and with an abundance of options on the market it’s easy to go for a cheap Hawaiian knock-off and be done with it. But at a smart-casual event, piña colada chic isn’t going to cut it.
When it comes to picking the perfect print, the trick is understanding your frame. Paisley and florals create the illusion of space through repetition, and widen shoulders and arms as a result (without the expense of a gym membership). But, if you’re on the stockier side, pin dots and muted checks provide a simpler, more flattering silhouette.
Whichever motif you choose, try layering one underneath a textured suit or a bomber jacket to bring a touch of personality to your look.
The Crew Neck Jumper
Strictly speaking, a well-fitting crew neck jumper should be deployed all year round – not just for occasions that call for smart-casual. But therein lies its beauty. High-quality fabrics such as merino wool and cashmere are versatile and lightweight, and can be dressed up or down as you see fit.
If you’re leaning towards the smarter end of the spectrum, try teaming one with an Oxford shirt and a pair of woollen trousers. Although head-to-toe wool might sound dry on paper, Ted Baker’s knits come in rich autumnal colours and subtle patterns, so it won’t be just the free bar that pops.
The Finishing Touches
If separates create the volume, consider accessories the fine-tuning. Luckily, Ted Baker’s vast selection makes striking the perfect balance a cinch.
Just as the bomber has undergone reinvention, so too has the backpack – once a sixth-form staple, now it’s a leather luxury that looks as good next to your desk as propped up against a bar stool. Then there’s silk scarves, sleek leather footwear and soft suede gloves, for style on the move from A to B. And finally, a choice timepiece can provide a minimalist slant with a touch of craftsmanship: proof a decent watch needn’t require Swiss mechanics.
Shop the full Ted Baker autumn/winter 2016 collection in store and online now.
Get 20% off full priced items using code TEDSTREAT, valid from 19th to 21st October 2016.