What exactly is smart casual?

holiday style

Limiting options makes life easier

I have quite a small wardrobe, and it’s distributed between two homes in two different countries. As a result, whenever I’m looking for a particular item, it’s usually in the wrong place, i.e. not available. And I end up improvising, using whatever I have at my disposal. As it turns out, I’m rather good at improvising…

smart casual

Having a small wardrobe and distributing it between two countries is a choice, of course, but one that comes very naturally. I think I’ve always had quite a minimal wardrobe. Not because I’m a minimalist at heart (I am), but because I spent my childhood shuttling between my divorced parents, and my youth constantly moving, staying abroad, refusing to put down roots. Thus, living out of a suitcase became natural, and I wanted to be able to fit my possessions in one suitcase that I could easily carry myself. And to this day, this is still my mental state. Having ‘too much stuff’ makes me uneasy: I feel overwhelmed, as if I’m losing control. So, I try not to accumulate too much. Easier said than done when you live with a pack rat…

smart casual
scarf: Alexander McQueen / bag: Chanel

And I get so attached to my clothes and accessories… There is always the favourite pair of sunglasses / bag (of the moment) that I want to wear all the time, and plan an entire outfit around…
Then it helps to have some ‘classic’, multifunctional pieces that go with anything. These pieces are like chameleons; they take on a different personality depending on what they’re paired with.
Take this jacket, for instance: I’ve had it forever. I may not wear it for a long time, then find it again and love it. Seriously, this has been on my ‘list of items that need to be replaced’ for years, but as I have yet to find the perfect replacement, I keep going back to it.
What I like about the jacket is the fabric, and the cut. Tweed looks so timeless, and the biker style is a bit edgy, so the jacket is both classic and modern at the same time.

accessorizing with a necklace
necklaces: Andiata / L.K.Bennett, both old

From casual to smart: the power of accessories

On my recent trip to Madeira I had to challenge myself to come up with ‘smart casual’ outfits using the limited wardrobe of mainly very casual clothes I had packed. I had to first identify the ‘smart’ elements of the look and highlight them, while playing down the more ‘casual’ elements.

The ‘classic but edgy’ jacket was my starting point. I added a few ‘classic’ elements, such as my new Chanel bag and the black and white necklace. Then I added the leather and chain necklace for some edginess. 

smart casual
jacket: Zara (old) / T-shirt: Whistles / sunglasses: Tom Ford

And this is my tried and tested formula for smart casual: take the casual base (a t-hirt and trousers) and add a smart jacket (no denim), shoes and a nice handbag. Top off with some jewellery and glamorous sunglasses. Make sure you have more or less equal amount of casual and smart: you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.

How do you define ‘smart casual’?



PS: Go check out my new glamorous self-portrait in  The Dilettante Artist’s Gallery. There is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there…

Linking up with
Sacramento and Rosy for Share-in-Style

location: Madeira


  1. Natalia Lialina
    4 January 2015 / 6:03 pm

    Gorgeous place and such vibrant photos! I like how you mixed necklaces here, and this jacket is wonderful. To me, you always look a little dressed up and classy, thanks to your choice of interesting statement jewelry pieces and bright colors. If it's is called smart casual, then you are it, Tiina! Happy 2015! xxx

    • Tiina L
      6 January 2015 / 9:53 am

      Thanks, Natalia. I think I am quite a casual girl at heart, but I really like the dressier look… Ah, life is a series of compromises…

  2. Jill James
    5 January 2015 / 9:32 am

    I always feel a good jacket can either dress up an outfit with the right accessories or dress down with a simpler feel . This one works so well with your necklaces and that bag. Smart casual here is something I struggle with, it is much more dressed down so I am usually by comparisim overdressed.Wishing you a Happy New Year, Tiina.

    • Tiina L
      6 January 2015 / 9:56 am

      Thanks, Jill. You are the queen of lovely jackets, I'm taking a leaf out of your book here. Smart casual is really tricky, we need to explore it more.

  3. Martina, Elegant 40
    5 January 2015 / 9:42 am

    Beautiful photos and just a perfect jacket with very pretty necklace. Your look is nice!Happy New Year!

    • Tiina L
      6 January 2015 / 9:57 am

      Thanks, Martina! I think the reason I haven't been able to replace that jacket yet is that I'm trying to find another one just like it…

  4. Jasmine Rabuñal Barrientos
    5 January 2015 / 12:02 pm

    Smart casual looks are my favorite. They are chic yet comfy. Have a great week!Jasmine xx

    • Tiina L
      6 January 2015 / 9:58 am

      I like smart casual, too. But it is so challenging to get it right.

  5. Coco
    5 January 2015 / 3:53 pm

    I've been asked the same question recently! I think you are showcasing smart-casual brilliantly!Happy #bloggersharingstyle!Baci,Coco et La vie en rose – Valeria Arizzi

    • Tiina L
      6 January 2015 / 10:00 am

      Thank you, skart casual just became my goal for 2015, I hope to master it by next Christmas…

  6. Marea Dotz
    5 January 2015 / 4:38 pm

    I think you're smart to keep that jacket. I am buying less of those Fantasy clothes and more of the casual ones. With proper styling (which you are so good at!) these classics do not have to be boring and can last for years. Thrifty, too!!!!!

    • Tiina L
      6 January 2015 / 10:03 am

      I know what you mean: classic pieces make more more sense, both when it comes to finances and real estate (= closet space). And travelling teaches us to ditch unnecessary items and stick to multipurpose clothes, too.

  7. Jessica Jannenga
    5 January 2015 / 5:34 pm

    Nice look! I love the tweed jacket on you with the blues and the necklaces with it, You look greatfrom the link up, please stop by, jess xxhttp://www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com/

    • Tiina L
      6 January 2015 / 10:04 am

      Thanks, Jess!

    6 January 2015 / 1:46 pm

    Fabulous look, dear Tina.Happy New year and many Sharing styles together.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

  9. ColiBriCologne
    6 January 2015 / 7:36 pm

    So great! And so great pics! You look so good!The necklace really is an eyecatcher.Happy new year from cologne, germany

    • Tiina L
      7 January 2015 / 12:38 pm

      Thank you for you sweet comment, and for stopping by.

  10. Mrs C
    6 January 2015 / 8:01 pm

    Tiina, this ensemble is timeless and oh, so Chanel-ish! I love tweed but not on me, on others. On me I look so pretentious, like I'm trying too hard. Tweed and me simply don't fit, like ice cream and chili, LOL! But you look elegant in it and I love every single piece – the scarf, the flap bag, the pearls.. everything!

    • Tiina L
      7 January 2015 / 12:41 pm

      Thanks, I agree with you: there are styles that seem to be a natural fit, while others just look somehow wrong, like we're trying to be something we're not. I love these really ladylike looks, but whenever I try it myself, I feel like such a fraud…

  11. señora Allnut
    6 January 2015 / 10:11 pm

    oh yes, I agree with you about 'Limiting options makes life easier', it's so relaxing to travel with a little case!! and once more, I agree with you about how elegant and cool your jacket looks!, it's a really edgy and versatile piece, and such wonderful accessories!gorgeous!!besos

    • Tiina L
      7 January 2015 / 12:44 pm

      I wish I could travel with just a small case… Well, I manage with one suitcase, it does give me some options…

    8 January 2015 / 7:50 am

    Good morning Tina, time to VOTE HAVE A LOVELY THURSDAYxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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