Mind Your P’s & Q’s: Casual vs. Business Casual
In many offices across the nation Casual Friday, which originally started in Hawaii as “Aloha Friday,” now is the norm every day. What started off as a marketing campaign in the 1960s to sell more Hawaiian shirts and as a break from rigid work dress codes has spread to all days of the workweek for many businesses. Just take a moment and look around at your job, or pay attention to the attire of the employees at local businesses and most likely you will see more and more people dressed casually, sometimes too casually. I remember recently going into a very nice boutique and being greeted by a sales associate who had on dingy leggings with holes in them. I really love this store, but I did not feel comfortable with the salesperson helping me find clothes and ended up leaving without making a purchase. While there are many benefits to having a relaxed dress code there are still some basic rules that must be followed to maintain professionalism.
- Do check with your employer about the company’s dress code and what is not acceptable. While some businesses have switched to business casual there are still many companies that have business formal dress codes such as law firms. In the workplace, there can be many violators of the dress code so it is better to have a clear understanding of what is expected instead of just relying on work peers. Also remember when in doubt, it is always better to be slightly overdressed than to be extremely underdressed.
- Do not get business casual and casual confused at work. Business casual clothing is what many may wear to church on Sunday since the dress code at many houses of worship have relaxed as well. Business casual clothing include khaki pants, cardigans, button down shirts, company embroidered polo shirts and dresses with sleeves. Casual attire would include ripped jeans, sandals and band t-shirts, which are not appropriate for work.
- Do act professionally always. As I stated earlier, there are benefits of a business casual dress code such as appearing more relatable to clients and boosting morale. There are however some serious disadvantages as well. For example, the relaxed attitude that comes with relaxed clothing can lead to relaxed performances at work. When I was younger, I taught modeling classes for a company, and there was a strict dress code of heels and hosiery. One day we allowed casual clothing and the girls brought a laissez-faire attitude with it, so that was the end of causal dress. In the end, remember to remain professional regardless of what you are wearing.
Don’t lose your sense of style. Just because your job has a dress code does not mean that you must come to work with polos, khakis and loafers every day. Have fun and play with your wardrobe so that your unique personality shines through at work. Just make sure you are not in the spotlight for wearing inappropriate clothing such as see-through or mid-drift baring clothes.