Casual Friday is a term that inspires fear and liberation, letting you unlock those polo shirts and adidas sneakers from their weekend incarceration. So why is the sartorial c-word notorious for its ambiguity and even trickier to unpick than when it’s prefixed by ‘smart’? Largely speaking, one workplace’s ‘casual’ is scruffy in the next. Consequently, the key to nailing your Friday attire is knowing how much wiggle room your nine-to-five affords. Consider this your ultimate cheat sheet.
In the high-flying corporate environment, uniform regulations are more regimented and professionalism is still significant. Jeans are risky territory, so switch the suit for a tapered, neutral chino. Roll the cuffs for a nod to out-of-office, but go easy on the footwear. Desert boots and loafers toe the line without ruffling feathers. Something that buttons beats a t-shirt, but subtle tweaks avoid monotony (think a shirt with a stitched detailing or an unusual collar).
Often enough, when working in the creative field, it’s more ‘casual week’ than just Friday. Nonetheless, the label offers an opportunity to flex some sartorial muscle. If sneakers are your daily norm, ensure that they are box-fresh and clean. Those scuffed and beer-stained club kicks have no place at work. Casual Friday is an opportunity to tap into seasonal trends or experiment with new colours or textures. That being said, some things should be avoided. Leave the Black Sabbath band merchandise at home and avoid making a debut in your new three-piece suit.
Already wary of missteps, casual Friday seems deliberately designed to trip up interns. The constant need to impress is daunting (and equally exhausting), but casual Friday is not a chance to demonstrate the depth of your limited edition sneaker collection. It is all about maintaining a semblance of smartness, which can also double as a strategic opportunity to become visible to those who make the hiring decisions. If denim is acceptable (and if in doubt, ask a co-worker), wear black or dark wash jeans and swap stiff office dress shoes for a pair of leather brogues. Avoid t-shirts and instead opt for a polo shirt or more relaxed button-up shirt to show off your style credibility.