How To Dress For Casual Fridays At Work

Workplaces aren’t what they used to be — and that’s a good thing! Though professional attire is a must in virtually any workplace, what constitutes professional attire can vary wildly depending on profession, employer, and location. Even in more conservative workplaces, like a law or business office, some degree of relaxed or casual attire is permitted on certain days or during certain times of year.

How To Dress For Casual Fridays At Work

This is usually the case in the summer when the heat makes traditional professional attire unbearably warm. Although you’re unlikely to wear heavy clothes on casual Fridays, such days still require a wardrobe mindful of what’s appropriate in the workplace. Here are some dos and don’ts that apply to most casual dress days:

DON'T Wear Sweats, Pajamas, Or Lounge Wear

Just because you’re dressing casually doesn’t mean you should ignore what your clothes say about you and your work. One of the main reasons professional attire exists is to instill confidence in one’s appearance; professional attire is often designed to make you look your best. Wearing sweats, pajamas, or lounge clothes would only serve to make you look lazy in the eyes of others. These kinds of clothes, by design, do not fit especially well and are not typically meant to be worn to the office. A good rule of thumb is to never wear anything to work that you would wear in bed or lounging on the couch at home.

DO Wear Jeans

Jeans are an excellent alternative to slacks or dress pants, which are typical in professional attire. Be mindful of the sort of jeans you wear though. Choosing a dark wash of jeans, as opposed to a lighter wash, looks more professional since the darker color mimics dress pants. Distressed jeans, jeans with holes in them or those covered in paint splatter are generally unacceptable as they look messy. Fit is important too. Very baggy or skinny jeans are not going to cut it; boot cut or straight-legged jeans are going to be the most professional option.

DON'T Just Roll Out Of Bed

Casual Friday isn’t the same as just-woke-up-Sunday morning, meaning that while your wardrobe might be relaxed, your grooming shouldn’t be. Don’t neglect your appearance by not combing your hair or bathing, or by not applying makeup (if you normally do). You should always be sure to appear polished, clean, and attentive to your appearance because it matters. Don’t just wake up, throw some clothes on and come into work that way. Always be sure to look your best, especially if you’re in casual attire since the details are even more important and visible.

DO Wear Appropriate Shoes

Flip flops are generally not allowed in the workplace since most people aren't interested in seeing their co-workers’ exposed feet. Tennis shoes and sneakers are not always ideal either as they can dress a look a little too casually. Ballet flats (and certain kinds of sandals) are an excellent option for women, blending both style and comfort, while men should consider loafers as a casual alternative to more restrictive business shoes.
Sarah Fudin manages the social media & outreach for Social Work License Map, which provides information on how to become a social worker as well as earning a Masters in Social Work.
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