Casual Friday, two words that are often a source of frustration for employers and confusion to employees. What once began as a means of feeling more relaxed at the office prior to the weekend has ended in horror for some businesses and refused completely by others. I have been asked my opinion on what is appropriate on a casual Friday. The question is often followed by stories of past coworkers showing up in mesh tops, mini skirts and logo tee shirts. While many businesses have become okay in allowing a casual Friday, many have yet to enforce a dress code for it. The end result is far from desired or what the original message was intended to be.
Furthermore, the business game has changed, especially in terms of fashion. Twenty years ago, most dressed in a suit and went to work. Business was more formal. It required people to be more polished during the day. Today’s market has vastly changed. The number of people working in creative job fields is constantly growing as are the number of individuals working from home. While this should not effect how professionals get dressed in the morning, it unfortunately does. Magazines and other media outlets are constantly creating work inspired outfits that allow us to reflect our personal style. While articles like these can be a great piece, the readers will not look at an article like that and know if the outfit in question is one that is appropriate for their job in particular. Recently, I had seen a blog post about the best interview outfits. I have to admit to being horrified with the results. While the pictures were attention grabbing, the outfits themselves were far from appropriate for the office.
So what is appropriate for casual Friday? The answer varies depending on your employment. The first thing many businesses need to establish is a dress code. While many say they have one, they are often very vague and almost never enforced. Secondly, you need to establish what level of dress your day to day business requires and what type of field you are in before a more casual mode of dress can be established. Generally speaking, if you are in a traditional business role such as an accountant, lawyer, or banker, you should wear more traditional business outfits such as suits, or business casual modes of dress from Monday to Friday. The higher your position, the more formal you need to dress. Those in creative industries such as fashion, graphic designer, PR should opt for a business casual mode of dress, but would be able to style themselves with more creative leniency because of their field.
In terms of casual Friday, the rule of thumb is to style yourself a business level lower than how you would normally dress from Monday to Thursday. For example, someone that wears a full suit during the week would dress business casual come Friday. It does not mean that you automatically jump into denim. Those that dress business casual during the week could choose to dress smart casual at week’s end. The more casual you become, the more you can incorporate your personal style, whatever that may be. Make a note, if you are going to be in meetings or seeing clients on Casual Friday, then that attire is out for you.
Here are a few general rules and things to keep in mind for casual Friday:
1. If you are going to wear denim, remember no rips and no wild washes.
2. Putting a blazer over casual items such as a tee shirt or jeans instantly makes you look more professional.
3. No sandals. If you are looking for comfort on Friday, opt for flats or loafers.
4. No mini skirts or short shorts. They just are not appropriate.
5. If you are going to wear a sheer shirt, make sure a camisole or tee is underneath.
6. No gym clothes (including yoga pants, ladies) at work. Ever!!!
7. Your neckline should never be lower than the top of your cleavage.
The key is to remember that when you enter the office, no matter what field you are in, you represent yourself and the company you work for. How you dress says something about who you are. Reflecting your personal style while still being appropriate at work will not only make you feel good, but your employers will too.