Do you ever feel like “Casual Friday” in the summer months is like looking at an artistic photo that’s supposed to mean something? The problem is, everyone interprets that meaning in a slightly different way. Business Casual is tricky anyway (the link is to all the blogs on this site that address the subject), but summer heat and vacation mode seem to make “casual” more important than “business” for a lot of us. The problem is that the wrong kind of casual keeps you from being taken seriously.
Break The Code In Your Workplace
It doesn’t really matter what anybody else says about how to dress in the workplace. Really. What matters to you is the written and unwritten dress code that is being used right now where you actually work. So start with the written code — ask for a copy of the official “how to dress for this workplace” dress code that Human Resources should have on paper.
Now take that paper home and pull out everything in your wardrobe that works within the guidelines. Some people even keep their work wardrobe separate from their non-work wardrobe so that mornings are easier on business days. Figure out a basic “work uniform” that will be the foundation of what you wear all the time. Many suggest switching out only one thing on casual days to lighten up the look but stay professional.
Having the written code down lets you evaluate the unwritten code you see around you at work. Notice who is showing a lot of skin, and who is wearing flip flops — what positions do these people hold? Unless you work at a scuba diving shop on the beach, it’s probably not your boss. Every company has a culture, and the clothes we wear reflect the culture. But every company also has a hierarchy and the clothes we wear send signals about where we see ourselves in that hierarchy.
If you want to break the code for your workplace, pay attention to what your supervisors and the higher-ups are wearing. You’ll start to see that those who are taken seriously at their job take their wardrobe — even summertime casual Fridays — seriously, too.