Is your casual Friday getting too casual?

Career Advice
JC Cornell

By JC Cornell
August 31, 2017

November 29, 2023

0 min read

Casual Friday, the day for… Bermuda shorts and tank tops? Or do you get to lose the tie but keep the suit? Knowing your company’s dress code can keep you from committing a corporate faux pas.

A lot of us use casual Fridays to make sure that our day-time outfits will work well for after-work socials.

However, this does not mean that casual Friday is an excuse to dress in torn jeans and Converse. Instead, view it as an opportunity to re-vamp your Mon-Thurs style.

We understand that Work wear has slowly been changing over the years, and being able to express personal style is important. But it should never be at the cost of your appearance.

Psychology of dress

A number of recent studies suggest that “dressing up” for work raises your confidence level, affects how others perceive you, and in some cases, even boosts your attention span.

Another study showed that casual dressers sweat the small stuff more than those dressed more formally. Sometimes, dressing more formally in a more casual environment can give you a competitive advantage.

How you dress will affect how your colleagues perceive you. If you work in a Law Firm, showing up in your beachwear will never be ok. In a competitive winner-takes-all environment, dressing the part sends a signal to others that you are confident and successful in what you do.

We aren’t saying you should dress so far above everyone else that it makes your coworkers feel uncomfortable.

But we always recommend coming to work on Friday professionally dressed in an outfit you would be comfortable wearing if you are suddenly pulled into a meeting with a big client or upper management. Or keep a clean tie/tailored jacket at work, just in case.

Know your corporate policy

By staying true to your corporate dress code and being smart about which pieces of clothing you swap for a more casual one, you can maintain your professionalism while staying stylish when you “dress down”.

Even though it is Friday, you are still in the office and you need to dress as such. Casual Friday isn’t an excuse to wear whatever your heart desires.

HR rules of dress still apply, and many companies have a separate list of what is a no-go on Fridays to keep this clear for all its employees. Ask HR for guidance if you are unsure – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Best etiquette

Pay attention to what your coworkers wear to ensure you dress the same. Ask yourself what everyone wears Monday to Thursday, and then base your Friday attire on that. Think about what you wear every day and take it down one notch on Friday.

If every day is business formal, the most casual you may be able to get away with is losing your tie. If it is business casual, you’ll probably be able to swap to dark jeans – but still wear smart heels/flats/oxfords and not your running shoes.

Even if your company goes super casual, know that sloppy is never ok. Make sure clothes are clean, crease-free, and not fill of holes. Always dress to impress.

A classic cut jacket will smarten up the most casual pair of acid-washed jeans. Sophisticated accessories have a big part to play in keeping it smart, if you have dressed it down.

What not to wear

Let’s get this out of the way: Flip flops (which are also considered a safety hazard), shorts, risqué or revealing clothing, t-shirts with offensive or political slogans, and any kinds of yoga/sportswear are definitely off-limits.

When it comes to visible tattoos or body piercings, if your company has a policy against them, then casual Friday is not the time to show them off.

All of this may sound like a no-brainer, but occasionally you may find yourself slipping into the habit of saying, “This will be fine” as you take an item from your wardrobe. Stop before you wear it into the office, think of Ron Burgundy, and “Keep it classy.”

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