Casual Friday can be a conundrum for many people who are used to the comfort of not having to decide what to wear. Corporate dressing may have some limitations but at least both men and women know where they stand sartorially.
But of course, depending on the type of firm you work for and the rigidity (or otherwise) of its cultural codes, expectations of what is appropriate in a dress-down situation can vary dramatically.
A good place to start is by taking a tip from the late Steve Jobs and dress with what he called ‘tailored informality’.
That’s smart casual with an edge – and the edge is respectability.
Some people say that you should match a Friday outfit to what you’d wear to a ‘dinner party at your parents or in-laws’. But even that can stretch the point. So maybe modelling yourself on a superior you particularly admire is a more constructive plan?
Places not to dress for are sporting venues, beaches and barbecues, nightclubs, hens nights or rage parties. In fact, it’s quite likely that anything you’re planning to wear over the weekend may not make the grade as your Fridaywear.
So, let’s go back to ‘tailored informality’ and look at what that means.
In any middle to top-tier corporate situation, this will definitely include modest expanses of skin, no piercings, no visible ink, no shorts and absolutely no T-shirts with slogans. Thong type sandals are out, as are spaghetti straps, muscle shirts, plunging pants and confronting cleavage.
When choosing your outfit, it’s a good idea to think about what you have planned for the day at work.
If you’ll be dealing with customers and/or clients, maybe wind the formality dial up a notch. If you are facing a day behind scenes, you may be able to wind it down a tad.
Remember we’re talking corporate here – so as long as you aim to look and feel good in comfortable, attractive rather conventional clothes, you should be right on track.
But just a word of warning.
Do not ever, ever, no matter what take Casual Friday as an invitation to outrageously ‘express your individuality’ by trotting along, decked out in bizarrely inappropriate gear. That’s a career mistake that will stalk your progression for ever!