By: Alecia Smith
It was my first legal job and I wanted to make sure I did everything right. I was in my second year of law school and received a job clerking at a law firm part-time during the semester. I felt so lucky, because at the time, a clerking job was hard to find. My first week was great, I was learning the ropes of the office and started taking on assignments. Then Friday came. I had neglected to ask and no one informed me, it was casual Friday. I walked in the office in one of my favorite first week outfits to “oh my, we forgot to tell you. We have casual Fridays!” No problem, I would just pull my casual [clothes] out of my closet next Friday. But what exactly does “casual” mean? So many of us have faced this dilemma. A lot of companies offer a casual Friday option for their employees, and even more companies are moving toward every-day casual attire. But what is appropriately casual? Some mistake casual for meaning there is no dress code. Here are a few things to consider so you can avoid the common pitfalls that go along with a casual work wardrobe.
1. Jeans: As a working professional, boot-cut, trouser or wide-leg jeans that don’t cling to your body are great options for casual Fridays. Look for a black or a darker color jean with a normal wash. Avoid jeans with tears or rips, even if intentional. If you work in a more creative environment, you can experiment with some lighter colors and different cuts, but the office probably isn’t the place to wear acid-wash or super skinny tight fitting jeans, even if they are the current trend. If you’re not comfortable wearing jeans to the office, dresses, skirts and other pants are also great for Fridays!
2. Shoes: Flip-flops and tennis shoes are never appropriate for office wear, no matter how casual your work environment. Casual Fridays can be a perfect day to break away from the traditional black, brown or tan pumps. Pull out some heels with colors or prints. Ballet flats are also a great way to stay professional yet still maintain a casual look. In some offices strappy heels, open-toed shoes or wedges may also be appropriate, just be sure your toenails look well maintained!
3. Tops: This is where the fun begins! It’s okay to pull the colors and patterns out of your closet on Fridays. A bright colored blazer or a floral silk blouse are great options, especially with jeans. Tops to avoid are sheer, low cut or crop tops. The goal is to maintain professionalism, but also show off your individuality!
4. Accessories: Chunky jewelry, scarves and dangling earrings are great ways to complete your Friday outfit. Don’t be afraid to accessorize with a statement necklace or a great pair of earrings!
Casual Friday attire should remain consistent with your weekly work attire, just taken down a notch or two. A great way to gauge what is appropriately casual in your office is to emulate the highest positioned female in your company. You don’t have to be a copycat of her style, just base your casual style on what she deems appropriate. Always remember, it’s definitely possible to stay stylish and professional at the same time!
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