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Trending 23 September 2020

Smart-Comfortable is the New Smart-Casual

Your guide on what to wear when you want to be both comfortable and office-ready.

During lockdown, the sartorial rules for workwear have relaxed to a point where ties are now obsolete and pants are optional. If you need gentle encouragement to put a pair of pants on, or if you’re not sure what the appropriate middle ground is between a hoodie and a three-piece suit, read on.

Words By Eva Marchingo

Long-sleeve T-shirt

If the thought of getting back into a button-up scares you, we’re here to help with everything you need for a smart-comfortable work outfit.

T-shirts in the workplace are generally not recommended, however, a well-maintained long-sleeve will give you a clean and comfortable look. A long-sleeve is not only comfortable to be in, it is the perfect base for adding different style elements to.

While a long-sleeve t-shirt won’t take you as far as formal attire, it is significantly smarter than a short-sleeve t-shirt without compromising comfort.

An appropriate neckline can make or break an outfit. For a smart-comfortable look, a crew neck is ideal. Experimenting with a high neck or higher-cut boat neck can also provide a stylish, smart look.

Another factor to consider is the fabric your long-sleeve is made of. Rich, thick cotton will be durable, but also provide softness.

424 Long Sleeve Box Logo Tee, was $299 now $155, End Clothing


While working from home, it’s become commonplace to see your co-workers sporting a hoodie during a 9 am zoom conference. But those days are finite.

Sweaters, on the other hand, are well and truly used to finding themselves in the smart-casual category, but there are a variety of other knits to choose from if you’re looking for a more comfortable change of pace.

A knitted cardigan is the ultimate comfort item, and luckily it can also be business appropriate, depending on what you’ve got on underneath.

For layering underneath a knitted cardigan – and indeed for any smart-comfortable look – a crew neck is most appropriate, as a neckline that is too loose or shows too much chest can look too comfortable.

If you’re ready to wear a shirt, but not quite a blazer or suit, knitwear over the top is the perfect compromise.

Tom Ford Shawl Collar Cashmere Mohair Cardigan, $3,320, Browns Fashion

Unstructured Jacket

An unstructured jacket is the softer, comfier cousin of the blazer. It allows you to maintain a formal-feel without feeling restrained by an overly tailored jacket.

You won’t find shoulder pads, padding, or chest canvassing in an unstructured jacket, and sometimes you might not even find full lining.

Unstructured jackets can be made of a variety of materials like linen and wool, and come in a range of cuts.

You’ll also find this jacket useful in the warmer months, as it is significantly more breathable than other jackets.

An unstructured jacket is a lightweight, comfortable alternative to a blazer or suit jacket, and can work over almost any shirt, even a t-shirt.

Like any jacket or cardigan, an unstructured jacket works best with a lighter coloured garment underneath.

Folk Washed Cotton Linen Blazer, was $465 now $309, End Clothing


Chinos are the poster-child for smart-casual dressing, and they’ve retained their status as such by also being a comfortable pant to wear.

Traditionally made out of cotton twill, chinos are sturdy and durable, and remain so even when made out of synthetic materials.

They are also the most versatile pants you can own, able to take you from a casual summer barbeque to a more formal event in the middle of winter.

A chino upholds comfort with its unique fit. A chino is fitted, but not tight, around the hips and gentle tapers below the knee.

They are generally mid-rise, sitting comfortably around the natural waist.

Investing in a pair of chinos in a neutral colour, such as tan, navy, or olive will make dressing smart-comfortable a breeze.

Obey Straggler Pants, was $84.87 now $59.41, East Dane


The loafer is the ultimate shoe to symbolise 2020. Born out of prioritising comfort, a loafer is like a stylish slipper you can be proud to wear outside.

Loafers have grown to uphold style as a refined, classic and versatile shoe.

Loafers are a staple for a smart-comfortable wardrobe, as they are a slip-on shoe free from laces or other fastenings, generally with a flat heel and made out of leather or suede.

Depending on your level of fashion extroversion, there is a style of loafer to fit you, from the simplistic penny loafer to something with a tassel or Gucci-inspired hardware.

Adaptable to any outfit, loafers can act as a useful accent to any outfit you want to elevate.

Dr. Martens Adrian Tassel Loafer, $239, End Clothing