Friday is the one day of the week EVERYBODY looks forward to. Kids get excited about two school-free days, and everyone gets excited about the weekend. You know what I mean. Best thing about Fridays? Casual Friday!

You’ve spent Monday to Thursday working your bones dry in (sometimes) stuffy and/or restrictive clothing, and Casual Friday is the one day you get to cut loose. Even offices that have the strictest dress codes possible look different on Fridays. Employees tend to get a bit more laid-back in preparation for the weekend.  However, casual Friday is not an excuse to just show up at work in sweatpants and a tee. Friday or no, you want to maintain a professional look at your place of work.

I’m fairly certain your office has a dress code. Whether or not this dress code fits in with what you’re accustomed to wearing outside the office is a whole other topic on its own. An office dress code means you have certain rules to follow in accordance with what you wear, and they extend to casual Fridays. Example, you can NOT were short shorts to a law office. Never.

Casual Fridays at your office could mean anything from wearing the company’s t-shirt over pants, or traditional wear (like you see in some banks). And because I’ve seen Casual Fridays go terribly wrong, I’m going to help you save your career by showing you the proper way to do Casual Fridays.

REMEMBER – YouAre Who You Are. Yeah, I know you. You’re the trendy one, always rocking whatever’s new and trending in the fashion world. You’re the one who isn’t afraid to try out risqué looks, the “baddest” on the planet. Just save all that for the weekend, or at least when you close. Just because you feel comfortable in a low-cut halter top, or a t-shirt with funny captions, or sexual innuendo (gasp), written in bold print is not a guarantee that your clients will look past your outfit choice and see your confidenceand knowledge. Are you following?

I’m all for being yourself and self-expression, but there’s a place and time for everything. Besides, I’m positive your office will frown upon who you are outside its walls. Maybe not you reading this right now, but you know the kind of people I’m talking about – short skirts, see-through blouses, ripped jeans, and the likes.
Casual Fridays should be done to suit your work environment. Don’t interpret “casual” to mean “come as you please”. Instead, see Casual Fridays as a day when you get to tone your usual work outfits down ONE notch.

Also, you might want to keep in mind that there is a gender bias. Let me paint a picture for you. You walk into an office and you spot a man and a woman both wearing sleeveless shirts. Who are you likely to take more seriously? The woman, right?
Yes, there is a bit of bias where appropriate office attire is concerned. Women’s fashion makes it so that they can pull off more casual clothing. For some women, in fact, Casual Friday is pretty much every day of the week.

Guys have it tough. There’s a lot more restriction to what you can and can’t wear to work (sorry) but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it work 🙂

So, what CAN you wear?

Well, I’ve pointed out office wear will forever be stricter than your usual/weekend wardrobe, so make sure your employers know you are a professional ready to work whatever day of the week it is.

We’ve established already that women can pretty much get away with most of their usual work outfits, but we’ll just go over some basic rules. We’ll focus on Jeans and shoes as these are what really carry any weight in a woman’s Friday wardrobe.

  • DO choose dark rinse or black jeans, in traditional washes. Make sure the seat is not bleached, nor the seams embellished
  • DON’T wear distressed jeans to the office. It doesn’t matter how creative you think you are. They don’t just belong where you work.
  • DO wear boot cut, or slightly flared jeans to work. These styles compliment all body types and when they are dark they provide the perfect balance between getting down to business and winding down the work week.
  • DON’T pair your jeans with that vintage rock band tee. Casual Friday is no excuse to lose your professionalism. Instead rock out your denim with a classic white button-up shirt, or red blazer.

For your shoes:

Casual Fridays mean your feet can get some well-needed rest from the rigiditiesof heels you’ve had to endure all week. Just remember:

  • DON’T give into the “it’s five o’clock somewhere” urge and grab flip flops on the way out to the office.
  • DO slip on ballet flats. Ballet flats are chic and comfortable, and a perfect dress-down day paradox.
  • DON’T put on sneakers or tennis shoes. If you can wear them to the gym, they don’t belong in your office.
  • DO wear the trendy heels and sandals you store for special occasions but never really get the chance to wear. Casual Fridays are the perfect day to wear those classy, expensive designer shoes you just don’t have the energy for on Wednesday.

For guys, I’ve gone ahead and put together three different looks for three different work environments. Find the one that suits you best, and work with that.

Finance Guy

Because of the nature of your job, it’s imperative that you appear organized and confident. Even on a Friday.

You might have to meet clients at any time, so jeans are out. Opt for a smart, comfortable pair of dress pants instead. Pair with a crisp dress shirt that complements your pants, but ditch the blazer (it’s Friday, after all). I don’t need to tell you how messy sneakers would look. A pair of classic black leather loafers is most appropriate for this look.  With this look, you tell your employers and clients that you know what you’re doing.

The Creative Dude

Your job might allow you to be a bit more fashion-forward, but you don’t want to overdo it.

I would suggest a pair of black pants, a patterned shirt to reveal your fun side – think classic patterns like plaid or pinstripes – and a silk black tie. Tie this look together by donning a pair of leather lace-up sneakers. This way, you look cool and laid-back, but still ready to work.

The 9-to-5ers

You’ve figured out how to do your job efficiently, but you just can’t get a handle on the Casual Friday business.

You can actually rock a pair of jeans. As long as they aren’t torn ore distressed or stone washed or anything like that. Keep it simple. Dark colors are often preferable. A vest with interesting patterns over your dress shirt should add some fun to the daily hustle, and you can tie your look together with sporty or urban slip-on loafers

Dressing down is definitely a welcome relief from all the stuffiness from Monday to Thursday, but, like with all things, moderation is key. Sticks to what’s appropriate for work, and watch your career soar