Can a mini dress be worn for a ‘smart casual’ dress code?

Community Question:

“For smart casual dress code, what is the appropriate length of dresses? Are tasteful mini dresses considered smart casual?”

This week’s community question is from a young lady who I had the pleasure of coaching earlier this year.

Following her attendance on the course, she has been updating her wardrobe in accordance with the ‘Stylish Dress Codes’ module and requires some clarifcation on the appropriateness of mini dresses for a ‘smart casual’ dress code.

To begin with, I would like to clarify that the most important aspect to this dress code is that sportswear, including trainers, shouldn’t be worn and traditionally denim shouldn’t be either.

However, nowadays smart denim may be permitted, but I recommend that you check with either the host if you are attending a private event, or the venue you are visiting (often the dress policy is stated on their website)

With regards to the length of a dress, there are no specific etiquette rules and so it really comes down to using judgement as to the suitability of the outfit, for example, if you are attending a summer barbeque then you could pair a summer mini dress with a cute pair of ballet flats or espadrilles.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is whether the event is being held in the country or the city; the former requires a more relaxed approach whereas the latter calls for a little more formality.

Informal ‘smart casual’, suitable for a garden event or the country
Formal ‘smart casual’, suitable for an event in the city

The most important points to consider for all locations are as follows:

  • The outfit fits well
  • The material is suitable for the time of day and the season
  • It’s respectful to the age group 
  • It shows regard for the type of event/occasion

And finally, do remember to keep your knees and ankles together when sitting, as well as taking extra care when you enter and exit a car, ensuring you avoid the dreaded paparazzi photo!