I think they do. Some of my colleagues think they don't.
Today I am wearing proper black shoes, black socks, black underwear, a light blue button up shirt with cufflinks, no tie, a beige jacket and black DENIM trousers. I think I look smart and casual. I feel smart and casual. Therefore I AM smart and casual.
But apparently I am wearing jeans. Therefore I am not dressed for real work. Never mind that I am negotiating multimillion pound deals, structuring complex projects, trying to hire brilliant people. I can't be serious because I'm wearing jeans.
I heard a phrase recently "casual dress, casual attitude". It was delivered as if it was fact, and was received with approving nods. I listened with disbelief. Some of the laziest, most political, work-shy, hang-your-suit-jacket-on-the-back-of-your-chair-so-it-looks-like-you-are-still-at-work people I know have been hard core suit and tie merchants. No smart casual for them. Strictly proper business attire. Some of the most creative, driven, passionate, innovative, won't go home, work through the night people I know have been the scruffiest people you'll meet.
I fall somewhere in between. I am a smart casual guy. I will force myself in to a suit and tie if I have to, for a Board meeting for example or for a client meeting if I know that its a strictly suit wearing culture. But that's about it. Around any office I work in I'm smart casual at best.
But what is smart casual? Well, here's a pretty good definition. Yep, that'll do it for me. And in the definition I choose, black denim trousers count as smart casual. So, I'll keep wearing them until one of my courageous colleagues decides that they have nothing better to do than to try to educate me in how to dress in a way that stops me from having such a casual attitude. Then I'll switch to wearing a dress instead.
Casual dress, casual attitude, indeed!