Ahh, Friday. The last day of work before we get to unwind for a few days. For some, the idea of ‘casual Friday’ is something to look forward to each week. However, I have been pretty shocked at what some people consider work acceptable on less ‘buttoned-up’ days.
Navigating what works and what doesn’t work when you’re trying to look professional but not wear a suit can be difficult, and often really depends what your office atmosphere is like. I have compiled a set of ‘guidelines’ (a la Pirates of the Caribbean) for dressing down while still looking dressed up:
- Easy dressing, not sloppy dressing. You DON’T want to look like you’re just running in to do a few things. You never know what can pop up on a Friday, like a meeting with a client or your boss, so looking put together is a must.
- Sheer tops – with something under them of course. If your office is strictly business professional during the week, you may not be able to get away with this kind of shirt any other day of the week. Pair it with conservative bottoms and jewelry for a work appropriate look.
- Sleeveless – No, I do not mean spaghetti straps. (That is never acceptable in an office without something over it.) Naked arms are a DO on casual Friday.
- Flats – If you’re a heel wearer like me, Friday is a good day to wear flat shoes to dress your outfit down. Remember to keep it to ballet flats or loafers – no sandals.
What might work:
- Jeans – If your workplace allows jeans on Fridays (or any other day), make sure to dress them up. Only wear dark-wash jeans, or jeans with conservative color like white – see photo below) never light colored jeans or holed jeans. If you do wear jeans, dress them up with nice jewelry and a blazer, so as not to look too casual. I prefer heels with jeans at the office, too. Also remember if you do wear jeans, make sure they’re not too tight.
What doesn’t work:
- Graphic T’s – These are a super casual no-no. Even if you throw a blazer on over them, they’re still über dressed-down, so save the graphic T for dinner and drinks with friends AFTER work.
- Sweatshirts – Do I even need to explain here? Keep a nice cardigan at your desk for if you get cold.
- Tennis shoes – If you work in a professional environment, tennis shoes are usually not acceptable work attire, even on a casual day. Buy a nice pair of loafers for more casual days, men!
As you can see, I followed my own rules, and though I am wearing ‘jeans’, I dressed it up with a blazer and conservative heels.
Remember, dress codes vary greatly from office to office, so if you’re starting a new job, be sure to feel out the atmosphere and check out what others are wearing before taking a risk.