That Friday Feeling

Don’t you just love Friday? One last stretch before the weekend, the feeling of accomplishment (or successful procrastination) that comes with it and everyone else just seems to be in a better mood…

Yes, Friday is by nature a laid-back day. Casual or dress-down Friday is a corporation’s way of acknowledging that nobody really means business on the last day of the working week, and therefore not bothering with formal business attire.

The concept first originated in Hawaii in 1947, when Aloha shirts became acceptable in offices on Fridays only. The idea as we know it today, however, became a movement in the late 1990s, with internet companies such as Google making it official, mostly in California. Globalisation took care of extending the habit worldwide.

In countries of warmer climate, casual can include shorts and t-shirts, while in more formal cultures workers don’t even get away with jeans. The concept is relative – very clear in some corporations, blurry in others and non-existent in many. You probably already know by now what the deal is in your own workplace.

Today, with raised pressures of style upon us, instead of promoting a relaxed attitude, this ‘freedom’ of attire often polarises the workplace. While some show clumsy efforts led by the idea of ‘anything goes’, others seem to turn Friday into ‘Scruffday’, treating it like it’s a lazy Sunday. The confusion is particularly visible in environments where there isn’t a clear set of dress-down rules. If you relate to the issue, asking your superiors might be a good idea.

Even after you have all the answers, dressing casually without the safety of a uniform isn’t easy. It’s almost like you need another safe wardrobe selection or formula just for that day.

Dress-Down Friday Style Tips

We’ll try to help. Here we bring you FashionBeans‘ ten ways to express yourself on casual Friday and still look appropriate:

1. Avoid the Too-Much-Information Effect

One of the issues with casual attire is when the fit (or lack thereof) promotes overexposure of your anatomy for professional standards. This includes tight jeans, deep v-necks, dropping waistbands and transparent fabrics.

Dressing provocatively worked for Bridget Jones, but letting it all show in the office isn’t just inappropriate for women. You don’t want your nipples to be the talk of the coffee station.

Make sure the fit of your casual clothes is conservative enough to get you through the day with dignity. Think slim not skinny, fitted not tight, and above all, don’t go sheer.

2. Work Personal Choices Into Pared-Down Attire

Coloured loafers, a silk scarf, a unique belt or even a subtle print are welcome accents to a sober, professional look. Make sure you have one interesting feature to impress your co-workers with.

The more unique and individual, the better. People appreciate small efforts of this sort, and you’ll draw positive attention to yourself without sacrificing your professionalism or going overboard:

Men's Dress Down Friday Outfit Examples - Using Accents To Individualise Your Look

massimo dutti june 2014massimo dutti march 2014zara man february 2013he by mango ss14asos ss14calibre ss14he by mango ss14Scotch & Soda Amsterdams Blauw denim collection ss14h&m ss12reiss ss14sarar ss14ti for men ss14Nordstrom 2014jigsaw ss14reiss ss13
3. Avoid Obviously Branded Stuff

Logo buckles, printed t-shirts, external tags or any features you might adopt in your free time to instantly affirm a certain lifestyle doesn’t necessarily send the right message in the office.

You don’t want your colleagues wondering if you’re making more than they are, or be that guy who is overcompensating for a lack of personality/genuine style credentials.

Bear in mind: subtly branded, high quality or luxury items send out a completely different, more positive message. Keep your outfits classic and simple and consider integrating unique textures, subtle prints or eye-catching colours in order to draw attention in a sophisticated and refined way:

Men's Dress Down Friday Outfit Examples - Using Fabrics, Textures and Colours To Individualise Your Look

pepe jeans ss14el burgues ss13bally ss14burton aw14club monaco summer 2014selected homme ss14jaeger ss14windsor ss14Boglioli ss15reiss ss13BOHEMIAN ss14Dolce and Gabbana ss14
4. Dress-Down Your Accessories

Since you’re not wearing your suit, why not swap your formal watch for a more casual style (think canvas or coloured straps instead of leather), change your metal-rim spectacles for brightly coloured frames, or even ditch the briefcase for a messenger bag?

These are subtle alterations that will balance out your look and help your casual get-up come alive:

Men's Dress Down Friday Outfit Examples - Dress Down Your Accessories

warby parkerj lindebergEmporio Armani ss14bally ss15burton aw14river island holloway road ss13trashness.comunknowntrashness.comDaniel Wellington
5. Don’t Be The Casual Friday Grinch

Nobody likes the overly-serious guy who sticks with his suit when everyone else went casual.

Get with the program, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. If jeans aren’t for you, try combining slim-cut chinos with a chambray shirt (no tie) and an unstructured sports jacket.

6. Self-Expression Is Good

Your colleagues may know orange is your favourite colour, they might notice you like plaid shirts, or even that you favour a certain brand. They don’t need to know you have a thing for Lycra tops or leather trousers, to see you in your football jersey collection, or to be aware of your six pack abs.

Loud, extreme or stereotypical fashion statements are as bad for your professional image as turning up at work drunk. Make sure your off-duty style is no more than 25 per cent on display. Think timeless and classic and you won’t go wrong.

7. What Does Casual Friday Mean To Your Office?

It helps to ask questions like: “do I need a collar or is a t-shirt enough?”, “Can I go to work in trainers?” and “Jeans or Chinos?”

As you master the rules, breaking them in a considered way might become your thing. Will a scarf and a crew neck jumper make up for the missing collar? Will dark suede trainers replace a pair of brogues?

You’ll only be able to tell if you slowly take risks – just don’t show a blatant disregard for professional conduct.

8. Don’t Steal Someone Else’s Style

Asking where your colleague got his belt and turning up with the exact same one the next week is a cheap shot.

Strive to develop your own unique personal style and look outside your office for inspiration. We recommend FashionBeans.

9. Keep It Functional

At the end of the day, you will (or should) be doing work, so you don’t want your outfit to restrict you in any way.

Delicate fabrics, complicated knits and premium materials such as suede won’t perform well when you drop that permanent marker on your lap, or spill sandwich dressing while simultaneously eating and working against the clock on that Excel chart that has been lingering all week.

10. Juxtapose Aesthetics & Utilise Separates

If you strive to create an interesting balance of smart and casual, no one can criticise.

Try juxtaposing the casual and more formal aspects of your wardrobe together so one piece excuses the other. The easiest way to do this is by pairing tailoring separates with casual basics. For example, tailored trousers and trainers, or a t-shirt/polo layered underneath a blazer:

Men's Dress Down Friday Outfit Examples - Using Separates

zara man may 2014zara man spring 2013zaraman february 2013selected homme denim ss14club monaco summer 2014bally ss15dunhill ss15he by mango summer 2014digel ss12reiss ss14Boglioli ss15todd snyder ss14
Final Word

That brings to an end our style guidelines for dress-down Friday, based on personal experience and witnessing the mistakes men continue to make on a weekly basis.

But now we’d like to hear from you: what are your casual Friday quirks? Anything you’d like to try at the office but haven’t had the courage?

Tell us more about your Friday drama in the comments section below…