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What Not to Wear on Dress Down or Casual Friday?

Dress Down or Casual Fridays are a perk currently offered by employers across the world as an employee incentive. However, when you’ve been told all your life that the way you dress is a reflection of how you want to be perceived, you don’t really feel that comfortable wearing a pair of jeans and a graphic T-shirt to work. 

What once began as a way to help employees feel more relaxed and excited that the weekend is just around the corner, has now turned into a source of stress and confusion for employees, who aren’t quite sure how casual a Casual Friday should be.

While many organisations haven’t exactly enforced a dress code for these casual-dress days, it goes without saying that a sense of professionalism should be maintained, even on Casual Fridays. Therefore, it’s advised few guidelines should be laid out to avoid sloppy, inappropriate and offensive dress to enter the workplace. 

In this blog we explore what employees should not wear to work Dress Down or Casual Fridays, to avoid being perceived as unprofessional. 

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What are Dress Down or Casual Fridays?

Just as the name suggests, Dress Down or Casual Fridays are a dress code trend that offers employees one day’s break from formal work attire, allowing them to go into work wearing casual clothes such as jeans and trainers.

With Fridays marking the start of the weekend, behaviour at work tends to be more relaxed. Some employees view Casual Fridays as a time-saver, since they don’t have to wake up early to iron their shirts and trousers, while others see them as an opportunity for self-expression in the workplace.

It has consequently become a popular practice across companies, as it’s known to boost employee morale and improve team building. According to a study published by Gitnux, over 85% of employees, who participated in the survey, reported that relaxed dress code regulations can have a positive impact on their company’s morale. 

However, as an employee, you should be aware of what clothes to steer away from on Casual Fridays, in order to maintain your professionalism and avoid offending any of your co-workers. 

If you’re interested in finding out the history of Dress Down Fridays, then give this blog a read.

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1) Go casual, but no too casual

Obviously no one wants to turn up to work on a Casual Friday wearing a full-blown suit. If you do, you’ll end up feeling left out and let's face it, you’ll come across as boring and that you’re above casual attire. It’s like showing up to a Halowween party without a costume. Where’s the fun in that?

Comparably, you don’t want to show up looking messy and unprofessional either, so try and steer away from dressing overly casual. Although you might be tempted to put on your most comfortable tracksuit set and trainers, perhaps that’s not the most appropriate attire to go to work in. 

It’s fair to say that ‘casual dress’, in a work context, looks much different than what ‘casual dress’ is like when you’re hanging out with friends on the weekend. So try to avoid clothes that can come across as sloppy and messy like ripped jeans, hoodies, tracksuits and definitely don’t wear your pyjamas. 

In that same logic, you should also steer clear of clothing that can be deemed inappropriate and revealing - that goes both for male and female employees. Work is not the place to show off your physical assets and the gains you’ve made in the gym. So, low-cut tops, short skirts and dresses, crop tops, muscle tees and see-through mesh tops should be avoided at all costs.

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2) Avoid making a statement

We all have opinions and ideologies we support, but the worst thing to do is bring them into work, and while Casual Fridays are an opportunity for employees to express themselves, don’t take it too literally. 

So you know those ‘Just Stop Oil’ T-shirts everyone has been wearing in protest TikTok videos recently? Well, maybe keep yours in your closet on a Casual Friday at work. 

Although you might think that it’s a great way to express your political ideologies and passion for sustainable energy, what happens in the instance that someone disagrees or has a negative comment to say about your stance? Is it really worth the tension and rivalry of a colleague to make a political statement?

According to a Glassdoor survey, around 60% of employees polled expressed that discussing politics at work could negatively impact their career opportunities, while 6% also believe that “discussing politics at work is unacceptable”. So, instead, play it safe. There are so many different ways to express your ideologies and opinions than sporting a slogan bearing T-shirt that could potentially offend one of your co-workers. 

The same goes for sports team T-shirts and clothes and colours which could cause a few disagreements and controversy in the office. Leave those for the stadium or the pub on the weekend instead.

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3) No one likes a brag 

Like we’ve already mentioned, Dress Down or Casual Fridays are often perceived by employees as an opportunity to express themselves through their attire, but that doesn’t mean dressing as if you belong on the cover of Vogue!

We all have at least one item of clothing or  a pair of shoes we’ve spent an unjustifiable amount of money on, that we want to wear all the time, to somewhat excuse the hefty price tag we paid for it. But remember that work is not your fashion catwalk, and wearing in-your-face brands may not be the best idea. 

There are all sorts of things that could go wrong here. For starters, wearing an expensive brand could suggest that your salary is high and that you're potentially earning more than some of your colleagues, which could provoke feelings of envy and resentment towards you. And honestly, who wants that? 

Not only that, but you could come across to others as a show-off, which isn’t really the best personality trait to be labelled with, especially by your co-workers. So perhaps put that YSL jumper back in the closet until your weekend outing. 

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4) Remember to still dress practically

Casual Fridays are still regular work days, just because you dress slightly differently than you usually would, it doesn’t mean that your schedule of the day or tasks will also change. So think about what you have to do on the day and the tasks you’ll be expected to execute when you’re deciding on your outfit. 

For example, if you work in a manufacturing company and you have a sight visit scheduled at a factory for that whole day, then maybe wearing high heels ,open-toe shoes or short sleeves isn’t the smartest choice. 

Think of it this way: Casual Friday is your opportunity to dial down your outfit for work a bit, but don’t take it too far to the point where it will hinder your productivity and ability to perform your tasks effectively. 

Generally, Casual Fridays should be viewed as an opportunity to relax and prepare employees for the weekend ahead, however it still continues to be a full-working day (well, for most of us anyway), so looking professional and clean is highly important. Not only that, but if a company decides to adopt a Dress Down or Casual Fridays policy, it’s best advised that the HR department sets out rules and guidelines, regarding what’s deemed appropriate for casual-work attire, in order to avoid any confusion or conflict taking place between employees.


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