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Dress Codes, Decoded: Your Guide to Dressy Casual Style

Post by Wantable Staff

Typically, we give a hard pass to being told what we can and can’t wear. That’s just, like, the rules of feminism. However, certain social events still come with a suggested dress code—take, for instance, the ambiguous “dressy casual” (aka “casual dressy” or “smart casual”). Um… what the heck does any of that even mean?! Luckily, we’ve deciphered this incredibly confusing dress code for you, so you’ll be ready when the next invite arrives.

The answer: choose slightly dressed up versions of your favorite casual looks (avoiding shorts, basic t-shirts, distressed denim, and sneakers) so you can stay true to your style while still meeting dress code standards.

Dressy Casual Dress Code: Sweater + Skinny Cargo Pants

Comfort is Key

By definition, a dressy casual dress code calls for the perfect balance of comfort and style. A skinny cargo pant paired with a lightweight knit is the elevated take on skinnies and a tee. With utilitarian finishes and zipper details, they’re a tad edgy while still providing the comfort of a legging. Step your styling up a notch with accessories in daring prints and eye-catching colors.

Dressy Casual Dress Code: Chambray Shirt + Colored Denim

Wedding Bells and Baby Bumps

Whether it’s baby or bridal, celebratory showers seem to be filling up our social calendars these days, and it can be tricky to come up with festive looks for each event. Instead of choosing standard blue jeans as the foundation for your outfit, opt for a colored pair. Bold, bright-hued denim topped with a chambray shirt is both fun and completely current.

Dressy Casual Dress Code: Polka Dot Top + Joggers

See Things in Black & White

If you’re heading to a cocktail party, ditch your LBD for a jogger-inspired trouser. Paired with classic pieces like a white blouse and pump, your look will still feel smart and sophisticated enough for an after-5 occasion. With a relaxed fit and fashion-forward style, they’re a guaranteed win for feeling confident and comfortable all night long.

Dressy Casual Dress Code: Utility Jacket + Striped Top + Jeans

Decorative Denim

Blue jeans with an understated pattern are an excellent alternative to your everyday denim. Mix your prints with a contrasting top and add a figure-framing utility jacket for an ensemble that feels effortlessly put-together. Finish your look with neutral accessories, including comfy flats ideal for heading straight from socializing to slaying your weekend to-do list.


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