The Men’s Guide to Mastering Casual Friday
September 22nd, 2015
Friday. It can be the best or the worst day of the working week. Either it’s the feeling of it being the last stretch before the weekend begins, or a stressful day where we’re working our butts off to get everything finished before the week ends. Whatever your personal feelings about Friday, much of the business world has embraced a dress-down or ‘casual Friday’ dress code which can help you to transition more easily from working week to playful weekend. This straying from their conventional business clothes can put some guys into a quandary. How do you dress down and yet keep an air of authority about you? Read our men’s guide to pulling off casual Friday, and find out how to create the perfect dress-down Friday outfit for you.
The concept of dressing down on Fridays first originated way back in 1947 in Hawaii, when it became acceptable to wear the brightly patterned Aloha shirt in the office, albeit on Fridays only. Fast forward to the late 1990s and we saw internet companies, such as Google, endorsing the practice in its Californian offices. This soon spread, until it seemed as though the business world had adopted the code of dress-down Fridays on a global level.
Casual Fridays still have rules
Let’s get one thing clear though. The level of casualness will vary from business to business in line with the level of formality in your organisation. While you may find that some companies, especially in the warmer months, will allow you to dress-down as far as t-shirts, shorts and thongs, others may see casual as donning a slightly less formal suit without a tie. If you’re in any doubt about your company policy, always check the rules before turning up in your latest Iron Maiden t-shirt and distressed jeans. While it’s good to be able to show off your individuality by shedding traditional corporate dress, don’t take it as an excuse to turn it into ‘Scruffday’.
Even when you do know what’s expected and what’s not on casual Friday, you may still be at a loss about what to wear. For many people, particularly men, dressing without the security of a ‘uniform’ can cause untold pressure, and it’s almost as though they need a set of ‘Casual Friday clothes’, especially if they’re required to maintain a stylish and professional appearance.
Be sure to keep figure hugging clothes for your leisure time
Women know that figure hugging clothes are best kept out of the office, but men also need to be aware that exposing too much of your body is a definite no-no in a corporate environment, even on dress-down Fridays. Leave the super-tight jeans, low v-necks, pants that barely cover your undergarments and any transparent fabrics for your pleasure time. They don’t belong in the office.
Inject a bit of your personality into your attire
While we’re not suggesting that you turn up in something outrageous, casual Friday does give you a chance to show a bit of your individualism. Maybe that’s with coloured shoes, or a unique belt. Perhaps you like to wear distinctive prints. Let your clothes tell your colleagues a little bit more about you, without going over the top; a bit of self-expression is good.
Don’t be a mannequin for the latest designer
Try to avoid wearing heavily logoed clothes and accessories. If you do prefer designer clothes, wear those which send out a more discreet message, and keep your outfit simple and classic.
Dress-down your accessories too
Swap formal watches for something more casual, change your glasses, leave the briefcase at home and use a messenger bag instead. You’ll project a casual image without compromising on practicality.
Join in the spirit of casual Friday – even if it takes you out of your comfort zone
Nobody likes to see the guy who dresses the same as every other working day, especially when everybody around is in casual mode. Even if it takes you out of your comfort zone, you can adopt a casual Friday uniform of slim-cut chino trousers with a soft chambray shirt and unstructured jacket.
But don’t steal someone else’s style
If you’re still not feeling confident about your own casual Friday uniform, be careful about stealing someone else’s style. By this we mean, don’t try to copy exact outfits or accessories, but develop your own personal style based on what you feel comfortable wearing.
Keep it functional and comfortable
Which brings us on to functionality and comfort. Remember you are there to work, so your outfit must allow you to do so. Leave delicate fabrics or overly restrictive clothes at home.
Still a little confused? Here’s some ideas for casual Friday attire.
If you really feel the need to wear a suit, try swapping it for something more lightweight and less formal. Instead of wearing black, charcoal or navy, try lighter shades of grey, a light tan or maybe an olive or khaki colour. Linen suits are a great option, especially for the summer months. Add a more casual shirt or even a soft sweater or classic t-shirt rather than your usual buttoned up shirt and tie.
Shirts and t-shirts
Perhaps the easiest garment to swap. There are so many options for casual dressing ranging from well-cut plaid shirts through to soft washed button-downs. Polo shirts are also a good option, if not a little predictable, and if you do opt for this style make sure you choose good quality; avoid faded fabrics and collars that won’t sit straight. If it’s acceptable to wear t-shirts, keep the fit slim without being tight, and the colours subdued, without obvious logos, slogans or motifs. And never combine them with trainers or thongs, unless it’s acceptable practice in your office.
Wearing a jacket can add instant smartness to the most casual of outfits, so if you’re planning to be in any meetings, a jacket is always a good idea. For a more casual approach, why not swap out your dress jacket for a linen jacket, a tweed blazer, a blouson or varsity type jacket or, for the cooler months, a more laid-back puffer style.
Cardigans and sweaters
Well made cotton or wool sweaters will always work well in a casual environment. Sweaters can be worn alone (as long as they’re not transparent), or over a soft or tailored shirt, depending on the level of casualness you require.
When it comes to pants, try wearing a pair of chinos, or, if your workplace allow them, a pair of dark, well-fitting jeans. These will instantly make you look more relaxed and, as long as they’re not too tight, will be comfortable and practical too. Keep your silhouette slim, avoid overly baggy styles and pair them with a well-tailored shirt and leather belt, and you’ll still appear stylish and professional too.
Perhaps the easiest way to add a casual air to your outfit is with your footwear. Swap out your shiny leather Oxfords for a pair of suede lace ups, casual loafers, or even a pair of soft leather boat shoes. Try to avoid brightly coloured trainers or shoes that definitely belong at the beach.
Nothing brightens up an outfit like accessories, so here’s the chance to add some individuality with an unusual leather belt, a soft knit tie, or a cable knit scarf. Swap out your usual leather briefcase for a more relaxed one made of canvas with a leather trim, or even a messenger bag or satchel.
Don’t get too hung-up on dressing for casual Fridays. Find something you enjoy wearing, is comfortable and fits the rules, and just adopt that look every Friday. After all, the whole point of dress-down Friday is to make your day more pleasurable and relaxing.