Top and Pants: Forever 21 | Heels: Call It Spring | Bag: Mango
Watch: Anne Klein | Lips: Revlon Lip Butter in Sweet Tart
I work for a government agency that doesn't have a strict dress code. Some of our senior staff members do wear more formal clothes e.g. coat and tie, collared shirts, etc. But mos of us have a more relaxed and flexible dress code. As long as you look appropriate to face clients and represent your agency, that is okay. We even can wear jeggings as long as it doesn't look exactly like jeans. On Fridays, we also implement the "casual Friday" dress code. I am lucky to be working in an agency that gives people more flexibility in terms of their clothes. Dress in a comfortable outfit but keep in mind that you are working and you have to look the part. And this is what I call smart casual.
One thing I hate about working is the fact that I cannot dress according to what I want. I believe fashion is a form of self expression and I feel restrained, imprisoned, and unable to breath if I am told what to wear. This is one of the reasons why I decided to work at home for 2 years. In my previous work, I was required to dress like a working girl: collard button-down, slacks, and heels. I am always on field work and wearing such has become extremely uncomfortable and unbearable. I decided to quit - not just because I could no longer take the clothes they are making me wear but for so many other personal reasons. I found joy and freedom in working at home because I can wear whatever I want to wear and no one will tell me if it is appropriate or not. But then working at home got boring so I decided to work again. Fortunately, I found a work place that isn't too strict about what I wear. As long as it looks appropriate for work, that is okay. This is how I discovered smart casual dressing.
I used to be confused about the term because I don't really understand gray areas and for me, smart casual is a gray area. Either you go casual or you go formal - those are the only options I know. Smart casual is a mix of both: you look formal but not too formal and casual but not too casual. How am I supposed to look formal but not too formal and casual but not too casual? It was confusing. Then I learned that it is all about how you mix and match certain pieces of clothing. This outfit for example:
If I am wearing the drawstring pants with a t-shirt and sandals, it looks casual. But paired with heels and a dressy blouse, it looks appropriate for work. It all depends on how you style them and how you match certain pieces in your wardrobe. You ca even make a very casual t-shirt appropriate for work by pairing it with slacks, a dressy jacket and heels.
I am fortunate to find a workplace that gives me more room to express myself in terms of fashion. It may not be total freedom like in other work places but I am happy to accept this challenge everyday to look appropriate for work without sacrificing comfort and self expression.