Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Giving Smart Casual the Elbow

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Giving Smart Casual the Elbow

Article excerpt

Byline: gary bainbridge One man's struggle with the 21st century. Follow Gary on Twitter @Gary_Bainbridge or email him at

ITHINK the worst thing in the world is being invited to something where the dress code is "smart casual". This is because absolutely nobody knows what "smart casual" is.

"Black tie" we understand. "Lounge suits" we understand, even though if I were to indulge in a spot of lounging I would generally not consider it necessary to don a suit.

This is not to say that I accept the widespread adoption of the onesie by actual adults, but there must be a middle ground between dressing like an estate agent, and wearing a babygro, like one of those sexual deviants who pretend to be toddlers, when all you want to do is watch EastEnders.

But "smart casual"? Not even the people who put it on invitations know what it means. How smart is "smart"? How casual is "casual"? It is an oxymoron like, "Circle Square", "same difference", or "much-loved TV personality Piers Morgan".

I was invited to a "smart casual" party about 18 months ago. In the olden days I would have asked a few close friends what on earth this actually meant, but this is the 21st century and I do not have close friends.

I have social media instead, which is a lot better, because it means advice is constantly on tap, and nobody comes to your house and drinks all your tea.

So I asked my number of social media contacts what they thought "smart casual" meant, and the consensus appeared to be that I should wear some sort of shirt.

This did not seem too taxing. I had a few shirts, some of which require the use of cufflinks.

"No, Gary", they said, as one. "You have to buy a new shirt. It is the done thing."

So I bought a nice black shirt - I thought it might be useful if I ever needed to impersonate a priest or if I became a fascist - and went to the party. At the party nobody said, "I can't believe you've turned up in this, Father Mosley. The invitation clearly said 'smart casual', you massive plum", so I considered it a success, and it quickly became my favourite shirt. …

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