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Work Wear

How to Dress for Casual Friday

Casual Friday is an option many companies offer their employees.  It's a day that permits employees to come to work dressed more relaxed and informal than other days of the week.  I've never heard anyone complain about Casual Fridays, since, after all, who wouldn't prefer to throw on casual clothing versus a suit?  Getting dressed up is great for the old moral and self-esteem, but taking advantage of the once-a-week break is nice, too.

So, I assume it's safe to say everyone appreciates Causal Friday... well, that is except me.  Why, you may wonder?  Let me explain.

My opinion of work is that everyday should be as important as another.  When employees dress down, their clothing isn't the only thing that tends to relax.  I do realize this isn't typically the case, or employers would not allow Casual Friday to exist.  However, even if employee performance isn't adversely affected – image is.  You're probably thinking, what's the big deal if I dress like everyone else?  If all co-workers dress like they're headed to a concert or ball game, what's wrong with being part of the crowd and blending in?  Nothing is wrong with joining the masses and blindly following, unless you want to be noticed and recognized as an exemplary employee.

I'm sure no one will hold anything against you if you opt to participate in Casual Friday.  I'm certain no one will give it a second thought.  But, that's just it.  No one thinks or notices anything special about you that separates you from the crowd... and therein lies the problem, especially if you want to climb the corporate ladder.  Some would say I'm putting too much emphasis on clothing, but I don't believe I am.  I'm simply getting into your boss's head and seeing what he or she sees.  Taking the initiative to dress professionally, regardless of the day, sends a strong message to the people whose hands your career is in.  It tells them how serious you are about your job; how responsible and committed you are to it; how willing you are to do what you believe is best, regardless of what others are doing; how capable of making decisions you are, even if they aren't popular ones,  and that you have and use exquisite fashion judgment.  Basically, your desire to get ahead is obvious and notable, and it's my mission to help you succeed, which is why I take the position on Casual Fridays that I do.

I understand the appeal of Casual Friday, and realize most guys don't resist its seduction, so to you I say this, "Dress down if you must, but don't go too far."  It's very possible to maintain comfort and still be respectfully dressed in a manner that represents your company.  Here are a few tips:

  • NEVER wear jeans!  Unless you're going in on a Saturday to scrub floors, jeans have no business being at work.
  • If you normally wear a suit, wear a sport jacket, dress pants, shirt and tie.
  • Business casual, although it's how many men dress Monday thru Thursday, is still a smart and safe choice in my opinion.  There are ways to add more comfort to these outfits without sacrificing image by choosing more comfortable fabrics, loafers instead of lace-ups, sweaters in place of a sport coat, colored shirts instead of white, turtlenecks instead of a shirt with sport jackets, etc.  Consider lightening business casual up, versus abandoning it all together.
  • ALWAYS wear socks.  It doesn't matter how casually you're dressed, sockless feet take Casual Friday to a whole other level, and it's not a good one!
  • Do not wear sneakers, regardless of how spanking white they are.
  • Keep colors conservative and traditional.  Casual Friday isn't the day to look like you're headed to the circus.  Not only do loud, obnoxious colors and prints make you look like a clown, they're distracting to co-workers.
  • Unless Valentine's Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, St. Patrick's Day, 4th of July, or any other holiday you feel warrants wearing a festive necktie falls on a Friday, do not wear novelty ties to work.  Seriously.
  • Stick to all the same rules regarding fashion that you use other times.  Metals must match, as well as leather shoes and belts.  Don't wear excessive jewelry, or jewelry the company doesn't normally allow.  This includes any accessory they may forbid.
  • Casual Friday is not the day to impress the office with how much cologne you can tolerate.  No day is, so stay with the conventional squirt or two.
  • Bathe.  I know I shouldn't have to go here, but Casual Friday doesn't mean roll out of bed and into the office like some think it means.  Yes, we're still expected to look and smell presentable.

The idea behind Casual Friday is to make employees feel comfortable and boost moral.  I think it's great companies and employers recognize the benefit in making employees feel relaxed and more at home.  However, keep in mind it's a time to loosen up a bit – not take advantage of your job.  So, if you choose to dress casually on Fridays, or any other day of the week, do it tastefully and fashionably by remembering you're headed to work.  And don't forget my favorite rule... when in doubt, overdress!

by Aaron Marino
Modern Tailor


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