While the idea of Casual Friday is a great one, allowing workers to express themselves and feel comfortable rather than restricted in corporate attire, it isn’t necessarily a free for all in terms of what to wear.
Smart casual – as the term ‘casual Friday’ – suggests is your best option. Suits are not required, but some rules do still apply. Remember, you are still at work and on the payroll of your employer. It’s not a time to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed, late, after a Sunday morning sleep-in.
The problem with casual Friday’s is that “casual” is open to interpretation, which in the past has led to many Australian companies banning the day.
So what exactly constitutes smart casual?
Jeans are a great option for both men and women. Dark denims are the best, as they mimic dress pants and give an air of professionalism. Lighter denims, whilst fantastic in some scenarios, can look washed out and worn, and are better suited to mowing the lawn or doing a spring clean. Remember, of course, that your choice will be influenced by the kind of workplace you are in. If your work is creative, you may have much more freedom of choice than if you work with conservative professionals.
Tracksuit pants and loungewear are a no go. They smack of disrespect and are not conducive to getting much work done. They’re perhaps a little too casual!
Team your jeans with a relaxed yet classic top. For men, a polo shirt or other button down shirt, with long or short sleeves and no tie, is just right. Patterns, plaids or the more casual stripes on your shirts are perfect.
Women should avoid wearing anything more revealing than their regular tops. Plunging necklines, gaping armholes or sheer materials are not professional, and are better suited to your day off or wearing at home. Instead, choose a well cut blouse which feels comfortable and includes a touch of colour.
Add a blazer or jacket and your look says professional but informal.
Your footwear is just as important. Save your excessively high heels or wedges for your Saturday night dancing, and thongs/flip flops for the beach. They’re unsafe in many work places and can look ridiculous.
Stay away from runners or sports shoes. Ballet flats, boots, or heels are perfectly okay, and casual leather shoes for men work well with your dark denims or khaki chinos. Ladies, in some offices even on casual Friday’s, sandals will be frowned on, especially those with cut-outs to expose your toes. Think before you make your final selection of footwear for the day.
Most importantly, make sure your outfit is clean and pressed.
Keep in mind that what you wear says a lot about who you are, and can share much about your work ethic, too. Taking care with your appearance, even on casual Fridays, will position you well for that promotion or plum job. Alternatively, it can see you ostracised, criticised and passed over. With a little thought, it’s easy to be casual and professional.
About the Author
This is article was written by Sally from Styled by Sally and was first published on her blog.
If you would like some help putting your casual Friday outfits together, contact Sally and she will help you create your casual yet professional style.
Sally partners with Let’s Talk Career to provide corporate styling advice to our job search and executive coaching clients. Never underestimate how your look affects your personal brand – even on a casual Friday!