How do you dress for a casual Friday in your workplace? I have been thinking about this for a while now and the only clear idea is there are no clear rules. Every company seems to have their own understanding of casual Fridays. The truth is though that, at least in Canada, and Vancouver specifically, the Fridays are not that much different than the rest of the week.
I am a believer in formal(ish) attire. It is a sign of respect and class. I really don’t care if your clothes come from the most expensive boutique in town. If they look frumpy on you or don’t cover all the essential parts of your body, please don’t wear them at work. Take Catherine Middleton’s example: on a moderate budget (for her rank and income), she manages to be classy, function appropriate and fashionable.
Rule No 1: I don’t care how casual your company is, it is still work. Dressing for work, casual Friday or not, should always have a formal touch to it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you should keep the tie when everybody else looses it, or be stuck in the formal business suit. No, please don’t be the stick in the mud. If you choose jeans, wear the dark ones, no holes, no shiny beading, nothing weird looking. Oh, and by the way, please make sure they do not expose half of your butt when you bent. My former boss used to do just that… it was extremely embarrassing. Leave the Hawaiian shirt at home, well hidden in the closet and go for the polo-shirt. It looks smart but relaxed.
Rule No 2: Casual should never mean going to the extremes regarding your personal hygiene. Yes, you still have to take a shower on Friday morning before going to work. It is mandatory not optional. Don’t forget that antiperspirant! There is never a good time to wear your own body odour. On the other hand, only because it is Friday, please don’t use more cologne or perfume than normal. Our senses don’t just take the day off… Remember that choosing a perfume is a very personal choice. And as always, when it is so personal, can be very controversial. Whatever makes me happy, might make you miserable so… be thoughtful and respectful of your colleagues… even on Fridays.
Rule No 3: Don’t reveal a different you! Have you noticed how our manners take a beating once we change into a pair of jeans and sneakers? We are suddenly more relaxed, less formal and even less gracious. The thing is, when you go from high heels to flip flops your brain gets the signal that it is ok to relax. Your back arches, your hands go deep into the pockets and the jokes start flowing. So what? you would ask… it is Friday and it is normal. No, it is not normal. If you still want that promotion, if you still want to be respected, if you want your team to have your back, you will not become someone different only because it is Friday. Let’s face it: who wants to deal with a guy or gal with split personality? All I am saying is that Fridays at work, should be like any other day of the week… except a bit more relaxed; but it shouldn’t reveal a different you. And this is where most of us fail, I think.
There is a whole debate about how casual “Casual Friday” should be. The reasons are as diverse as the opinions. If you want to read more just google “casual Friday” and read all the articles on the net. I prefer to keep work separate from my personal life. On the other hand, if I want anybody to take me seriously, I have to take myself seriously and when I wear sneakers, jeans and tank tops, I am always in a flirty, fun disposition…
According to an article published by USA Today that was citing a survey taken by TheLadders.com, 36% of respondents said those who dress casually are perceived as more creative, yet 49% said they run the risk of being taken less seriously. The survey was conducted in August 2006 and included 2,243 executives. You draw your own conclusion: I rather be seen as serious. Creativity in the workplace, unless you work in the art/entertainment industry, is welcomed with as much enthusiasm as a headache.