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Two times in the past week, I've been told I have to dress "smart" or "smart casual" for events. What the hell does that mean?
That you should wear calculus proofs on your chest, obviously. (Kidding!) If only the meaning of smart dressing were that concrete. But it's also not the most obscure in the Dictionary of Obscure Dress Codes. Yet it's confusing enough that you might feel as though they almost WANT you to show up dressed wrong. I think of "smart casual" as somewhere between business casual and casual casual. So, you can wear jeans, but consider pairing with heels or wedges. Don't wear cutoffs or flip flops. Think: chambray shirt dresses; jeans with blazers; statement necklaces with a clean-looking tee! Do not think: cocktail dresses; jeans with Converse sneakers; or chain harnesses!
There is a time and place for armpit chains, but chances are if you've been asked to dress "smart," your event isn't one of them. (And frankly would you look at this and think "smart"?)
Since you don't specify where you're going, I have to assume it's something wedding-related or reunion-y or something else in that category of things we feel obligated to attend. So! Let's look at some examples of smart/smart casual dressing. Michelle Obama comes to mind.