Is Casual Friday Killing your Career?

Is Casual Friday Killing your Career?


I come from a city where 10 days out of the year the entire downtown becomes a honky-tonk, merry-go-round of cowboy hats, denim and flannel. In fact, the Calgary Stampede has coined Calgary as an unofficial “denim culture” and as a Stampede enthusiast I love having an excuse to wear a pair of gritty jeans with a worn plaid shirt.

Derek Stampede

Stampede is an excellent example of, a time and a place. So what is happening the other 355 days of the year?   The reality is that unless your office is a barn and your inbox is cleared out with a shovel, you need to dress for your environment and for most of us that means dressing for success.

But here is when it gets tricky, Causal Friday. First I had to do some background research on Casual Friday and the following must be fact since I found it on the World Wide Web:

Casual Friday (also known as Dress-down Friday, or simply Casual day) is an American and Canadian trend which has spread to other parts of the world, wherein some offices may celebrate a semi-reprieve from the constrictions of a formal dress code.

This post is not meant to bemoan the fashion foibles of Casual Friday, rather as someone who occasionally errs on the side of casual, I would like to make a case for why you may be shooting yourself through your white sneakers squarely in the foot every Friday.

Here is my list of don’ts:

1. Causal Friday is not Lazy Friday, Hungover Friday, or I did Yoga this am and didn’t change after Friday. It is a work day and trust me your boss thinks it’s a work day too. Make sure what you are wearing says “I actually intended on coming to work today, not the golf course/gym/beach/couch.”

2. Don’t be unprepared. There is a great quote that I am sure some outdoor apparel company came up with “there is no such thing as bad weather, just insufficient gear”. I like this quote because it speaks to my always-be-prepared Event Producer way of life.   I apply that sensibility to how I dress for the office, regardless of the day of the week, because preparedness reflects confidence, attentiveness, and we hope,  a little style.

3. Expense.  There are lots of great options for dressy casual, but I think it is important to note that adding a sense of casualness to your wardrobe should not add a dent in your wallet. I always find Banana Republic, Zara, J Crew, Club Monaco and Brooks Brothers to be great options for sharp looking men’s casual wear. But I am also a big fan of hunting thrift as a way to add to your wardrobe, especially when you have a great tailor who can make adjustments to that $3 Gap shirt that someone else has retired from their closet.

4. It’s your one time a week to show your colleagues a personal side of you while still being in the confines of the office. So remember that you are just giving a flavour of personality while keeping it classy. Which means go ahead and wear those dark jeans with a good blazer, but maybe leave the Motley Crew concert shirt from 1984 for the weekend.

5. You want that promotion? You have to work EVERY ANGLE and that includes your dress. Here is an article about a study that proves the way that we present ourselves affects people’s perception of our abilities.

If you could increase your chances of success, even if only incrementally, by doing something that you do 4 out of 5 days a week anyway wouldn’t you want to? Keeping it classy shows that you care about your work and how your colleagues perceive you. Plus who doesn’t like to look sharp while killing it at work.