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What is the Proper Attire for Casual Fridays?

By Lauren Romano
Updated May 21, 2024
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clothes for casual friday While businesses typically want their employees to look professional, many have adopted the practice of having casual Fridays, where instead of wearing business attire, employees are allowed to dress down a bit. This more relaxed, business casual dress code usually includes khakis or similar trousers with an open-collared or polo shirt for men, and similar pants or a casual skirt and top for women. Some businesses allow nice jeans and even T-shirts, although dress codes vary on these points. It's important not to go too casual on casual Fridays and in this regard it's important to avoid athletic as well as worn or sloppy looking pieces.

Tips for Men

For men, casual Fridays usually means not having to wear a tie and jacket. The safest choice is usually an open-collared button down shirt, sleeves rolled up, and nice casual pants, like khakis. In some cases, wearing a polo shirt and jeans may be acceptable, depending on the dress code of the organization. If jeans are worn, darker denim usually looks more professional than light, and the pants should be in good condition — no holes, frayed cuffs, or other obvious signs of wear.

casual friday for menIn some companies, even more casual options may be acceptable, but it's always best to check the dress code or with human resources (HR) before going this route. Plain T-shirts, with no logo or advertising, may be OK, for example. It's usually better to layer a T-shirt with a button down or long sleeved T-shirt or sweater, however.

Black or brown casual shoes are usually the most appropriate choice for casual Friday. Athletic shoes are typically not allowed; however, canvas sneakers might be permissible. No matter the shoe choice, socks should always be worn.

Tips for Women

casual friday for womenWhat women can wear on casual Fridays is similar to what would be worn during the week, although a little less dressy. Nice pants with a blouse or sweater could make for an appropriate outfit for work. Women who would rather wear a skirt should consider selecting one that is basic and simple but comfortable and in a neutral color. Dark, fashionable jeans can be appropriate for some offices, especially when paired with a nice sweater or professional-looking blouse.

Make-up and jewelry should be kept tasteful and to a minimum. A pair of heels or flats would be appropriate shoes to wear; some offices might allow sandals, but in many cases, open-toed shoes are never allowed, so it's best for a woman to check with HR.

What to Avoid

While casual Fridays signify a more relaxed wardrobe, there are still clothing pieces that should be left for non-working hours. Sweatshirts with hoods or not, tank tops, and worn T-shirts may look sloppy. Athletic gear, like yoga pants and athletic shorts, should be avoided. Other overly casual outfits to avoid include any shirts with an advertising message, foul language, or which promote drug or alcohol use, as well as Hawaiian shirts — unless the company specifically recommends them, which some do — and other beach wear.

Men and women should avoid wearing open toed sandals or flip flops, as they are more appropriate for after work activities. Running shoes are also usually not permitted. Dressy shoes that are too showy like high platform heels or tall stilettos are probably more appropriate for a party than the office.

Casual but Professional

Even though employees can relax a bit on casual Fridays, they should still be well dressed and serve as good representatives for the company they work for. This means clothing should not be too tight or too loose. Women should avoid strapless — and in many cases, sleeveless — tops or anything too revealing, such as shirts with low necklines or bare midriffs. In rare cases, Bermuda shorts may be worn, but many offices find that shorts of any kind are inappropriate.

Whatever clothing is worn, it should be without holes, wrinkles, and stains. Shoes should look presentable and be clean no matter what they are worn with. In addition, hair should be neatly combed and styled.

Consider the Business Environment

Employees should keep in mind the type of office that they work in and how the other coworkers dress when choosing clothing for casual Friday. More relaxed dress codes tend to be found in creative departments. If there are any questions regarding clothing, employees should consider speaking to the boss or someone in human resources just to make sure of the dress code. In addition, people may want to keep a spare pair of dress clothes in their desks in case an unexpected meeting comes up where professional attire should be worn.

In the past few decades, many companies have relaxed their dress codes during the entire week, and not just on Fridays. There has been backlash against this in some businesses, however, as some office workers take "casual" too far and dress for work in sloppy and otherwise inappropriate clothing. Even on casual Friday, it's important for every employee to dress in a way that looks neat and professional, lest a careless appearance on one day of the week negatively affect how the boss sees that employee the rest of the time.

Dressing for Work: Videos

How to Dress for the Office

Do's and Don'ts of Casual Fridays

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Discussion Comments
By Saraq90 — On Sep 21, 2011

@amysamp - I have not done that! But I do find that quite funny and little brainwashed, but I wonder if more places than not do a casual Friday now? It seems like most places do now.

I have also heard of places doing casual Friday for charity, in that if the employees give or raise a certain amount of money for charity their boss or company gives the employees the option to dress casually on Friday.

By amysamp — On Sep 21, 2011

I worked for just a year in a work environment that was dressy but not too dressy on Monday through Thursday and then on Friday they incorporated their own casual Friday, and just as the article said, you could wear something neat and clean and it was okay to wear well-kept running shoes and jeans.

I think that because the dressy attire on Monday through Thursday wasn't as dressy as some other work environments, that the casual Friday was also more casual than other workplaces.

The thing I find funny, is that now I work with kids so the dress attire is casual every day, but I *still* wear dress pants and tops until Friday, and then I am likely to wear jeans!

Has anyone else gone from a casual Friday type of job to a Monday through Friday casual wear job and they still find themselves dressing up Monday through Thursday, and then wearing casual clothes on Friday?

By Mykol — On Sep 21, 2011

I think there are many times when wearing business casual attire is very appropriate. This usually depends on what type of business you are in.

I have worked in office settings where many employees took advantage of this and really came to work looking very sloppy.

If you are in a business where you are selling or meeting with potential clients, I think you should always dress professionally.

You never have a second chance to make a first impression, and I don't think you can ever go wrong by being dressed appropriately.

By SarahSon — On Sep 20, 2011

I have always been a big fan of casual Friday. I work in a job where I must dress up and look professional every day. It is nice to have one work day a week where I can relax and wear casual clothes.

My definition of casual clothes is probably different than what someone else thinks it is. I will usually wear a nice pair of khaki pants with a nice shirt.

Polo shirts are quite popular in my office and many employees will wear a company polo shirt on Fridays.

Even though everyone in the office dresses more casual on Fridays, there is still a big variation in what the term casual means. Most people are pretty good at keeping their attire casual but professional.

There are a few employees in my office who come close to crossing the line between what is business casual and what you would wear when you are relaxing at home. I think there should be a distinction between the two.

By sunshined — On Sep 19, 2011

I know each company has their own standards for proper casual Friday attire, but I think the standards have relaxed over the years.

I was working at a bank when this concept first became popular. While we could dress much more casual on Friday than other days, we were still not allowed to wear jeans.

Just the other day I met with a loan officer at my local bank on Friday and she was wearing a pair of denim jeans.

They were a nice pair of jeans and didn't have holes in them, but I was still surprised that jeans were allowed for someone who worked in her position.

By orangey03 — On Sep 18, 2011

I would feel so strange wearing sneakers to the office, even on casual Friday. While the rest of my outfit may be more relaxed, I always wear nice shoes with it. Usually, they are black stack heel shoes that are both comfortable and professional.

If I wear jeans, I wear the kind that are so dark blue that you can barely tell they are denim and not dress pants. I pair them with a sweater or nice top. I generally don’t wear a blazer on casual Friday.

I sometimes wear a ponytail instead of going to a lot of trouble with the curling iron on that day. Of course, I still brush my hair while swooping it up neatly into an elastic band. It’s an office-worthy ponytail.

By lighth0se33 — On Sep 17, 2011

The interns where I work are expected to abide by the same dress code as the rest of us. For the guys, this means suits and ties, and for the ladies, it means heels, slacks or skirts, and nice blouses.

Those of us who have worked there forever have an understanding of acceptable casual Friday attire. It is a shame that no clear description of it is given in the handbook, because new hires just have to learn by trial and error.

Once, an intern showed up on his first casual Friday in flip flops, swim trunk style shorts, and a t-shirt with a beer company’s logo on it. The boss sent him home to change. He was so embarrassed, and I think the boss should have better explained casual Friday to him when he hired him.

By Perdido — On Sep 17, 2011

At my office, a nice looking pair of open toed sandals is considered dressy. We are not a large corporation, but we do try to look professional for our customers.

On a typical summer day, I wear sandals with a dress. A lot of my dresses are island themed, and these are fine for the office. As long as my clothing provides enough coverage and doesn’t look sloppy, it is acceptable.

Casual Fridays for us are blue jeans or shorts days. I only wear denim that is still in good condition with no holes, though.

By wavy58 — On Sep 16, 2011

My office does not have a strictly enforced dress code. Basically though, the people who will be dealing with customers are expected to dress more formally, and those of us who work in the back and never see a customer can dress more casually.

Having said that, some employees do participate in casual Fridays. When they do, they end up looking like most of us in the back of the building. We wear jeans with nice blouses, dresses, or sweaters most of the time.

The sales representatives never dress casually on Fridays, because they always have to be seen by clients. They only get two casual days out of the year, and these are days that we have to show up, work about an hour or two, and go home. We have to work Thanksgiving morning for a few hours, and since almost no other business is open that day, they can wear jeans if they want. Christmas Eve is the same way.

By sunnySkys — On Sep 15, 2011

@Monika - I think jeans are OK for casual Friday as well. I think it might be a generational thing though. My office allows jeans on casual Fridays as well, but I've noticed most of the older people won't wear them!

I think in the past jeans were considered to be extremely casual and no one would be caught dead wearing them at the office. Times have certainly changed!

By Monika — On Sep 15, 2011

I work in a pretty small office, and most of our business is done over the phone. We get the odd customer visit to make a payment here or there, but some days we don't get any customer through the door.

Our dress code is business casual anyway-no one really wear a suit, but we do look business like. We are allowed to wear jeans for casual Friday though, and I don't see anything wrong with that. As long as the jeans are nice, not too tight, and not ripped I think it's fine!

By lonelygod — On Sep 14, 2011

I really don't believe that casual Fridays are a good idea at a serious office. The proper attire for casual Fridays seems to vary so much by place of employment that people are always ending up in inappropriate attire. I think if you take a professional job, you should always look the part when you're working.

At my office we had Friday casual clothes, and I even invested in a pair of casual Fridays shoes to make sure I had a complete look put together that suited the dress code. Unfortunately not many people followed the guidelines and ended up looking way too relaxed.

Does anyone else prefer their power suits at work? I really feel like it helps me with my game face.

By manykitties2 — On Sep 13, 2011

Where I worked we had a casual Friday dress code, and they even showed the employees a casual Friday video to really nail in the idea of what was appropriate at work.

For our workplace we were able to get away with khakis and nice blouses, but jeans and t-shirts were totally out of the question. I think our day for dressing down really should have been called casual business Friday. Everything we wore at the office was still suited for the office. If you refused to adhere to the casual Friday dress code the bosses wouldn't take it well and you'd be give a warning.

By icecream17 — On Sep 12, 2011

@Suntan12- Sometimes people take advantage of the casual Friday dress policy and have their own version of what casual means. I used to work in an office in which men would wear Bermuda shorts with loafers and a polo shirt. The women would wear open-toed sandals and it really transformed the environment of the office in to a very casual environment.

I think that the problem not only lies in the fact that this attire is way too casual but people tend to act differently based on the attire that they are wearing. A lot of people slacked off and eased up on their level of professionalism and as a result casual Friday was ruined because people were not adhering to the business dress code set forth by the company.

I was glad when they got rid of casual Friday because for a while it felt like people were getting away with wearing things that they shouldn’t and the rest of the staff was growing a little resentful because they did play by the rules.

By suntan12 — On Sep 12, 2011

I like the idea of wearing casual business attire. I think that it is nice to get to the end of the work week and be able to dress comfortably.

At my husband’s company the men get to wear casual khaki slacks with a polo shirt. They don’t have to wear a long sleeve shirt or tie. The only problem that I see if is someone has to meet with a client and is dressed this way.

Although the client’s environment might embrace a casual Friday atmosphere, I don’t think that it is ever a good idea to dress down like this when you are meeting a client especially if it’s a new client. Casual Friday attire has its limitations.

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