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Don't Let Casual Friday Steal Your Credibility

Don't Let Casual Friday Steal Your Credibility

Don’t Let Casual Friday Steal Your Credibility
5 Tips for Styling Your Casual Friday Look

It’s casual Friday, the most venerated day of the week in the workplace. Surveys by LinkedIn show that 66 percent of females love (not like) their casual Fridays, and 24 percent even factor dress code in their decision of where to work. I’ll be the first to admit that I dread putting on another pencil skirt and heels for the luncheon that landed on my calendar for Friday. Not even 5 minutes after that event has ended, I’m rocking my most comfortable denim ensemble, because you’d better believe I’m not missing out on the opportunity to wear jeans for even four hours.

The highly coveted “jeans weeks” have also become a corporate tradition where employees pay money to wear jeans to work, and whether or not it’s for charity is beside the point: A dollar a day is a steal for being able to strut your denim duds. Held so sacred, employees will do an about-face and travel 30 minutes home to change if they missed the announcement and showed up at the office in work wear. Jeans, if you think about it, are in no way more comfortable than slacks, but yet they’re the supreme in relaxed apparel for most women. You know why? Because we are absent the casual Friday uniform of khakis and polos that men are able to put together and wear at a moment’s notice.  

It’s interesting to me how even the most stylish of women can commit the most egregious fashion crimes on these days. Look, I’ve been there. Maybe I don’t have any meetings, maybe I drank too much wine the night before, or maybe I’m dreaming that I’m going straight to a rock concert after work. I remember the day I shook hands with a potential acquisition partner in my fancy flannel and Converse shoes, only to look at my boss who put me to shame in a red blazer and stylish black jeans. That’s when it hit me: if you’re wondering whether you’re right or wrong, look for your boss, that’ll validate it very quickly.

There are debates about the effects of casual dress on productivity, and deciding what to wear for casual Friday first requires you to know your corporate culture and what’s acceptable. Fashion gaffes could hurt your image, credibility, and even worse, career. “Casual Friday is not really casual. So very rarely can we wear jeans to work, but when we do, it needs to be professional. I'll need to pair it with a jacket and heels,” said Carissa Swanwick, a technology executive in Kansas City.

Here are my top five tips for looking professional, comfortable, and incorporating your own unique style into your casual Friday look.

1. Throw on a light jacket or blazer.

Fact – you can actually look dressed up and professional and even get away with the worn jeans look if you add outerwear. If you’ve seen Episode 2 of STOMP, The Blazer, you understand the power of this tried-and-true, goes-with-anything apparel item. Basic black is easy, but what about in the summer? Try a light jacket, a fitted vest, or a linen blazer, which is also perfect for “support your favorite sports team” day. Is it Royal blue week at work? No problem, wear your favorite team t-shirt underneath.

Anaphora Bellevue Jacket in White, Anaphora, 913.291.0375, James Jeans olive green blazer, Clique Boutique, 913.362.3030

2. Trade your tennis shoes (or even worse, flip flops), for flats or comfortable heels.

You don’t have to give up comfort to be stylish. Thanks to retailers like Zappos and DSW, there is an endless supply of sneaker options that were designed to be stylish and have nothing to do with sports. These can be fantastic for unique style and function. As I get older, my 4-inch heels become more difficult to wear and I long for the days I can embrace comfort. Solid colored ballerina flats will ensure versatility with most outfits. Even if you have more dainty style, challenge yourself to rock a great pair of oxfords. They’ve become such a fun alternative and you can wear them throughout the fall and winter months as well with skirts and cropped pants.

Loeffler Randall Lina, Clique Boutique, 913.362.3030

3. Choose a colored denim or wear darker blue jeans for a dressier look, but leave the ripped and low-hung jeans at home.

Jeans shopping might be as frustrating to me as swimsuit shopping. I’m convinced it’s the dressing room lights and mirrors! Skinny jeans either give me flat booty or I become Thighasaurus before my very eyes. We all have different body types, but dark blue options are kinder in sizing and give in the right places. Go for high-waisted fits and have fun with cropped, wide, or straight-legged denim. Colored jeans are a statement and fantastically dressy as long as they fit well. Below are three different styles that have worked for me -- even the in, ugh, white!

White Twist Jeans, Anaphora, 913.291.0375

4. Try a knee length skirt in denim.

Short denim skirts will not work, but an a-line, pencil, or to-the-knee denim skirt can be paired with a variety of tops and statement jewelry for a clean and casual look. Since you don’t want to combine all casual elements into one outfit, choose a bright colored strappy sandal or kitten heel for a longer line and pop of color.

5. Choose your accessories as liberally as you would any other day of the week.

Put your necklace, bracelet, earrings, belts and scarves on blast to dress up your look. You have so many more options with denim – whether it be a blouse with a beaded necklace or pearls, or a t-shirt with long gold necklaces and big earrings, jewelry shows you care.

“We are able to wear jeans all week long, which is great, but I’m always looking for different ways to dress it up,” said Mackenzie Shurz, marketing director with JE Dunn Construction. “Getting creative with color, jewelry, and various statement tops helps keep that polished, professional look, even when my denim is center stage.”


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