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PSA: Why Were The Mid-'00s So Damn Smart Casual?

The decade where everyone dressed like they had to go from work to a party.

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Come closer, dear friends, and we'll open a time capsule. A ~fashion time capsule~. But first, like when you do debates in school, we must begin with a definition (and a visual aid).


According to Business Insider: "The smart casual look allows flexibility for personal taste in fashion and includes jackets, outfit-enhancing jewelry, dress pants, dress shirts, skirts, tailored sweaters, vests, ties, matching leather accessories, and leather pull on shoes and boots. Smart casual dressing is often adopted by employees who want to look ready for their next promotion."

The year is 2005. Model and presenter Cat Deeley looks in her wardrobe and thinks, I want to look put together, but also like I could go to a drinks party and my auntie's house later. There was only one dress code that could do both: smart casual.

Singing sensations Pussycat Dolls like the cut of Cat's gib. "Women can have it all," they agree – and they layer some sweaters, shirts, and accent belts over their stagewear. "Smart casual is the way forward," they chorus.


Meanwhile, back in the UK, Girls Aloud know that to be a modern girl group you must dress for all eventualities. A last-minute BBQ? A quick weekend meeting at the office? Whatever the destination, a smart casual dress code will save the day.

The year is now 2006. The dress code thrives, fed by more and more accessories. Belts add a pop of fun. Big earrings say, "I may work a 9-5 in a Slough office park, but I still know how to party."

Meanwhile, Nelly Furtado understands the real appeal of smart casual style: comfort. She performs on live TV in a pashmina, delighted that a trend can keep her cosy to boot.


Even pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne embraces smart casual style. Yes, she's flirted with smart accessories before via ties, but this time she's really committed to it. Look at that brooch!

2007 is the moment when smart casual peaks. Behold! An MTV V.J. interviewing a pop star, but instead it looks like poor old Lily Allen has been asked a particularly difficult interview question about Excel spreadsheet formulas.

This is front row at New York Fashion Week, but instead it's like J.C. Chasez, Audrina Patridge, and Lauren Conrad form a the panel making a decision on the best EMEA EA hire.