A Reader’s Thoughts on Smart Casual

The Cream Odd Vest

The Cream Odd Vest


(Purple tie, lavender shirt, grey flannel, cream vest and lime green pocket square. More in the — hopefully — elegant rather than easy vein.)

Hi Chris,
I enjoyed your blogs on smart casual. Since you’ve asked for reader input, here goes. In terms of dressing smart casual, California, has a couple of other of influences – first, it’s not just warmer here year round, there is also a lot of sunshine. It’s not uncommon to get a day in January that’s 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. This tends to lend itself towards lighter colors. Secondly, we also have a hip urban thing going which tends to lend itself to darker (black) and unusual colors (french blue and purple).

So how do you reconcile the two? I find the easiest way is to go with a darker top, such as a black single ply cashmere crewneck sweater with lighter pants such as tan, taupe, or light/mid grey. I think this works a lot better than dark pants and a light top or navy, both of which are seen as too conservative East Coast.

In addition, high end designer jeans are a uniform here. You can’t ignore them but you can upscale them – a black three button sports jacket (which works better without a tie), an open shirt in an unusual color, and shoes such as derbies, monk straps or chelsea boot. Accessorize with a bright silk pocket handkerchief and cool shades and you’re good to go. I remember about a month ago you wrote a blog of Glamour vs Elegance. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that elegance in southern CA is hard to come by but Glamour affords limitless possibilities.

Nicely put dear reader. I like the idea of strong colour, and while I tend toward white and tan in the warmer months and charcoal greys in the winter, I’ve been playing with more colour during the shoulder seasons of Fall and Spring. Here are a few combinations that might work very well. Sky blue and chocolate brown. Orange and loden green (or olive green.) Purple and navy blue. Canary yellow and charcoal grey. French blue and cranberry. And, as noted above, black and tan.

Largish party here tonight and author Stephen Elliott will be reading from his newest novel “The Adderall Diaries” next door, so if you’ll excuse the short post, I’ve got some polishing to do after I fire up the crock pot.

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