When it comes to questions on what to wear, the term "smart casual" is flung around all too often with seasoned nonchalance and a shrug - an altogether terrifying term frankly, and one belonging to the same rather silly breed of fashion idiom such as "red is the new black."
You see although the term sounds ever so light and breezy, it's arched tone would argue otherwise - a terse little reminder for us to pick up our game a little. "Wear what you like but make sure you look perfect at my party and don't embarrass me in front of the other perfect party people coming" would be a rather more honest offering.
Although generally dress codes remain constant from year to year, there are subtle shifts. Last year the wrap dress did the rounds, the year before that we trotted around in the oversized jumpers, and if we really look back we can catch a glimpse of sparkly leggings - now, thank goodness, solely reserved for teenagers and backing singers.
Now, I do understand that we can't all be flying around in hot pink high tops and iconic leopard print dresses - that's a given. But that doesn't need to mean we have to stick to the little black dress and little coral shawl either. We should, of course, at least try to do our best.
Start off by making sure things are clean - yes, that means no strange stain on the lapel, no threads swinging from places they are not meant to and no unknown animal hair. Your success lies in the presentation, so make sure if nothing else to ensure this is followed.
Even if you have great pins, super-short skirts should be saved for other situations - a few inches above the knee is plenty - don't push it; you will only end up appearing slightly self-indulgent. Go for fabrics such as jersey and linen - not only are they extremely comfortable and cooler for the climate here, but they also drape beautifully. Avoid satin, lace, chiffon, tulles and taffeta as they will only appear unrelaxed and slightly try-hard.
You can go for trousers, but again make sure things are simple. Cigarette pants or cut-offs will work as they are slightly structured. Soft silk or anything flighty should be avoided - as it's all about keeping things restrained.
Assuming you have the basics covered, accessories can offer a little light relief. Splash out on one big-ticket item a season (or, if you're feeling self-indulgent, five or six), and wear the life out of them. Go for chunky, bright pieces that may create a talking point, such as mixed metals and coloured glass.
An oversized clutch is always a good investment, which again is another argument for getting the credit card out.
This week's highs and lows
IN THE SKIN We cannot wait to get our hands on this Alexandre Herchovitch grown-up prom dress.
WATCH WORRIES We've heard of loads of clothes copycats but this Raymond Weil and Cartier conflict is in a league of its own.
GOLDILOCKS This coming season wear gold in your hair: as an accessory or high fashion à la Topshop Unique (in photo).
DAY DOWNGRADE Due to date clashes with New York Fashion Week the Italians suggested that they reschedule with a day shorter for next season.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Burberry's mish mash of prints, colours and textures has us aching for the SS 2012 collection.