• Maud Vanhoutte

How to dress for casual friday at work?

The unspoken rules for Casual Friday at work

Do you have a culture of Casual Friday at work? Do you embrace the Casual Friday tradition? Are you the kind of person who looks forward to Fridays to dress casually?

What is Casual Friday?

‘Casual Friday’ also called ‘Dress-Down Friday’ is defined as a Western dress code trend that started in the late 20th century and that has since spread to other parts of the world. With Casual Friday, some business offices relax their dress code on Fridays, allowing employees to wear more informal clothes. It is about giving employees one day’s respite from company dress codes.

With the spread of casual Fridays, organisations with no formal dress-code policies started to implement the ‘Fancy Fridays’, inviting their talents to wear fancy clothes on Fridays.

Is casual Friday good for business?

While organisations are creating popular policies that allow workers to wear more casual attire every Friday, some people are seeing the casual Friday dress code marking the end of the office dress code. Though casual Friday policies are generally perceived to have a positive effect on staff, there is some disagreement pointing out the negative effects of dress-down Fridays.

On the positive side, employees are enjoying an opportunity for personal expression and are constraint-free from ironing their shirts and sending their suits to the pressing on Fridays. It helps to improve the morale and interpersonal relationships.

Some pointed disadvantages of casual Fridays are that the clothes can reflect poorly on the firm and the public reputation. Others also noticed a decline in work performance through a relaxed mindset.

For many companies, the benefits outweigh the risks and justify maintaining the casual Friday dress code. For more conservative companies, reinforcing the formal dress code policies is offering a good balance to casual Fridays.

Casual wear on Friday does not mean casual performance

In organisations offering a casual Friday dress code, an emphasis should be put on performance and behaviours. As our personal presentation and style are influencing our behaviours and attitudes, the casual Friday divides again. When some people will see an opportunity to be natural and authentic, others will see an invitation to inappropriate behaviours and poor communication styles.

Casual wear on Fridays should not link to casual attitudes and performances. It is essential to remain professional and focused and to offer your best professional behaviour in casual attire.

What to wear on Casual Friday?

What to wear on casual Friday will vary based on various factors that include but are not limited to the country, industry, company, leaders and personal preferences.

The following rules can still apply in many situations:

v If the dress code is formal, stay formal but lose the tie.

v If the dress code is smart casual, choose a polo shirt instead of a shirt.

v If the dress code is casual, well, stay casual and be sure to wear something appropriate for work.

Striking the right balance for casual Friday is not always an easy task, in addition to the clothing style, it will be essential to pay close attention to the fitting, the colours, the accessories and the general grooming. When starting in a new workplace, take the time to observe those around you and read up on any dress code policies that the firm may have.

With casual Friday you can add some colour and prints but you don’t need to buy new pieces of clothing. Casual Friday is about wearing the same outfits differently. Mix and match your wardrobe to reinvent your usual work wear.

Casual Friday in summer

With summer comes a freedom that is unique to this season. No more heavy coat, restrictive pants, long sleeves or confining boots. In summer it is time to loosening up a bit, not letting go completely. Are flip-flops and shorts appropriate at work? Is it all right to put on some flip-flops, shorts and a tank top to work? Yes! If you are working at the beach, if you are working in an office, you might want to rethink your understanding of casual Friday. Nearly everyone agrees on one thing: flip-flops have no place in any office environment, no matter how casual it is.

When Casual Friday is pushed too far

How far can we go with casual Friday? Is there any limit in expressing our style at work? Is it based on the company or industry we work in?

As stated earlier, it is indeed all going to be circumstantial! You will be invited to show your creativity and extravagance will even be tolerated in a creative environment whereas it will be a no-go if you are working in a bank facing customers all day.

Casual does not mean that you are invited to come in your pyjamas at the office; you will also keep your stained clothing or anything that you (visibly) worn too much for the weekend. Unless you are working in a gym or a fitness studio, keep your athletic clothing away from work.

You are encouraged to express your style and personality as long as you don’t wear anything that will be politically or morally offensive. You will also avoid anything that will be too tight, too short or revealing too much as a deep cleavage or any see-through clothing. Of course, UNDERwear will remain under anything you wear…

Your personal brand does not take the Friday off

Don’t take casual Friday too seriously…

In a working environment what you choose to wear will reflect your attitude to work and forms part of your personal brand. Work colleagues, customers and external stakeholders will make instant assumptions about you based on what you are wearing. The clothes we wear have a significant impact on both those around us and ourselves. Even if you are working in a casual environment, it is important to take pride in your appearance, to always dress appropriately and to tend to offer the best first impression you can. Your personal branding does not take the Friday off, you are always representing yourself and your company; be sure to send the right messages.

Even on a Friday you still want people to take you seriously

Monday is the new Friday: ‘Business Casual’

More and more organisations are inviting their talents to adopt the ‘business casual’ dress code. What is ‘business casual’ dress code? How to define what is appropriate and what is not, what is business casual and what is simply too casual? Deciding what to wear was relatively straightforward when everyone basically wore a suit but these days many companies are adopting a smart casual dress code.

Many employees facing this situation are defining it as a “dangerously ambiguous and easy-to-get-wrong dress code”. To assist them and reduce their ‘faux pas’, some companies are sharing some clear guidelines for employee attire. For talents with no such guidelines, the ‘business casual’ and ‘smart casual’ principles are bewildering concepts making dressing well for business a difficult task. The new work wardrobe needs to strike the perfect balance between comfort, professionalism and style five days a week.

It is essential to remember that your company’s image relies heavily on the individuals that make up your organisation. Employees represent their firm and the way that they present themselves and communicate reflects on the way a business is perceived by potential clients. Therefore, teams must project a professional, appropriate and consistent image at all times. Our Personal Branding programs equip professionals with a range of skills to create an impact and directly increase clients’ satisfaction.

As a conclusion, regardless of any dress code, it is important to remember that you are still at work or representing your workplace and your outfit must reflect this with a level of professionalism.

Maud Vanhoutte

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+61 (0)2 9569 6906



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