How to Dress Professional Casual
What is business casual? Business casual is the myth of working in comfort on Fridays. The problem is comfort has become careless, reckless and downright foolish.
Unless you’re Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or work in the tech industry, you likely cannot get away with dress-down business casual. The university professors who walk around campus at all hours dreaming up the latest physics theorem while wearing their old tweed jackets with the worn leather elbow pads are, like those techies, free of the ‘dress for work’ problem. For the rest of us, how we dress matters, even on casual days. And, it matter a lot. Why? Because, business casual days, like any other days, are subject to the same rules-7 seconds makes or breaks impressions. Remember, you’re always making an impression with your appearance. So, if you’re wearing your sandals to work, everyone will think you’re not really working. So, why show up? And what if that client shows up unexpectedly? How will you explain your jeans? Tie-less, yes, jeans, not so much.
One woman called me for advice because she was a bit on the plus size and in an administrative position so she felt she had few choices, and even less cash. Every day was casual day for her, but it was hurting her career. We found some good options for her on sale by putting together some classic colors and shapes. In no time she was ready for work, looking like a million, and satisfying the dress code. The most dressing down she did for casual Fridays became a brighter blouse and a cardigan sweater rather than a jacket.
And this is the rule for all of us. Dress casual is just one notch down from what you usually wear. Maybe flats instead of pumps. Maybe you can wear a bright tank instead of regulation white or beige. Maybe, as a stretch, chinos for the men, but better to wear dark pants, loafer shoes and skip the tie, but keep the pressed shirt. No plaid shirts please, and no grungy jeans.
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