Over the years, I’ve discovered that the worst faux pas occur when the House is out of session and staffers trade in their suits for more casual attire. It’s far too easy to throw on a pair of jeans and a wrinkled polo and call it good, hoping that no one will judge you because it’s Friday. But whether your boss is judging you or just noticing a precipitous drop in the quality of your appearance, you should make as much of an effort to look good on casual Friday as you do on power suit Wednesday.
Business casual means different things in different offices. My office is run like a dictatorship benevolent monarchy and we’re not allowed to wear jeans, so I usually wear a dress or a skirt. What can I say? I’ve just never warmed up to chinos, and I’d rather go to live with the Amish than wear capris. (Capris are evil.) Plus, I’m kind of a girly girl when it somes to my clothes.
If your office is more lenient than mine and you can wear denim, there are some guidelines that you should follow.
First, buy dark or medium-dark wash jeans. They just look more professional than other washes. Second, a trouser jean is your best bet, but a skinny or straight leg jean is also a good option if you can pull it off.
Third, if the rise is so low that you muffin top or they slide down when you sit, they are not work appropriate. Four, always make sure that your shirt covers the top 3” of your jeans, it’s just more flattering.
And lastly, just because you’re wearing jeans doesn’t mean you can just throw on any old shirt. Try a silk blouse with a cardigan, a t-shirt with a blazer, or a nice blouse and some jewelry to keep the look casual but pulled together. Basically, you should dress from the waist up like it was any other day and just substitute jeans for your slacks.
Oh, and this is still a place of business, so casual Friday is not an excuse to come in with greasy hair or wrinkly clothes. I see way too many female staffers wandering the halls with nasty, “I went to the bar last night and went to bed at 3am so I didn’t shower hair.” It’s called dry shampoo, it will save your life.