From the inbox: “I’m not really sure what to wear on Casual Fridays. The guys always wear the same khaki pants and polo shirts, but what are my options?”
Is it HR speak for the aforementioned uniform of khakis-and-polo? Is it anything goes? How casual is too casual?
Part of the challenge is the fact that every workplace is different, whether it’s due to the industry, the part of the country you’re in, or just that office’s specific dress code.
(And, of course, the Casual Friday dilemma almost exclusively applies to workplaces that are dressy the rest of the week. In informal offices, Casual Friday is really just … Friday.)
The process for creating a Casual Friday level outfit, then, is to start with what is appropriate for your workplace Monday through Thursday and take it down one level–khakis optional, but not required.
(In fact, it’s a variation on the process we talked about last week to take a working outfit from one level to another.)
How to create a Casual Friday outfit
- Replace one item. Build a typical ensemble you’d wear to work and then change out one piece for a similar item that’s more casual: try dark denim instead of suit pants or a cardigan instead of a blazer. In some cases it can even be the same type of item, but in a looser or more casual shape.
- Trade fabrics. As I mentioned last week, some fabrics are inherently dressier than others. Replace a garment made of a higher-end fabric with one that’s more casual and you’ll instantly take the outfit down a level. Think cotton instead of silk, loosely knit instead of finely woven.
- Exchange accessories. Like I said last week, accessories go a long way toward making an outfit appear to be one level or another. Wearing a flat shoe instead of heels and removing a bracelet or necklace may be all you need to relax your workwear enough for Fridays.
In the end, it will come down to a bit of gut feeling. If you feel like you’re dressed for work, that answers the appropriateness question. And if you feel like you’re more comfortable than on other days, that should answer the “casual” question.
- Does your office have a dress code? What is it, and what kind of workplace is it?
- What’s your favorite look for Casual Fridays?
Want to learn more about how to build outfits–and how to find the garments for them that flatter your body and personal style? I’ve created a new self-guided course, No More Yoga Pants, that teaches you just that–and more. Sign up for my email list to be the first to find out when it’s available (and get a special insiders’ launch offer).