Everybody always looks forward to their corporate employer's version of Casual Friday. But what the heck does Casual Friday even mean? Clearly we are all counting down the hours until the weekend. And we would much rather start the countdown in our comfy weekend clothes. But where do we draw the line? And if not our corporate closet, then is our casual closet permissible for the workplace? Do I have to spend more money for an in-between corporate and casual closet in order to avoid being too casual (or too corporate) on Fridays?
These are questions I have asked myself more than a few times. Casual Friday is an invitation to dress down a bit from your standard weekday uniform. However, casual for a 20-something-year-old woman can be very different from causal for a 50-something-year-old man. It's important to recognize that these differences are not bad. Generally speaking, our differences bring various points of view, styles of communication, life experiences, levels of technological competence, and so much more. But as a 25-year-old female IP attorney--who often gets carded at the movie theater for R-rated movies--I am hyper aware that my casual clothes might be a little too different for the workplace. That is not because my idea of casual is inappropriate, revealing, or just too casual, but because my idea of casual might feel too young for the office. Even on days where I show up to the office in a business formal suit, strangers have often presumed that I was an intern. And Casual Friday or not, that is never the impression I want to give.
So does this mean I have dress up on Fridays? Unfortunately, my brain's incessant questioning likes to work overtime on "minor" issues like this. And then I start asking myself whether dressing too formal on Casual Friday can become an inhibitor as much as dressing too casual. In my workplace, I am fortunate to feel no judgment on Fridays for dressing too formal. But strategies to break through the boys' club vary with each workplace. If fitting in is a catalyst to making changes to the "boys' club" in the future, then maybe dressing the exact level of casual is important. It's worth making observations as to how other men and women (of all ages) dress at your office on Fridays to assess what is appropriate.
While I don't feel like my personal workplace would do anything besides be their typical goofy and joking selves if I dressed particularly formal on a Friday, I also really want to participate in Casual Friday. Sometimes corporate fashion just feels a little too stuff or uncomfortable. And I love the idea of feeling just a tad bit more relaxed on Fridays. But as I said, my casual wardrobe sometimes feels a little too young and I don't want to buy a third wardrobe (I have so many clothes as it is, help! Haha). So how can I still embrace Casual Friday?
The approach I take--after having made you read my little rant on the complications of clothing first, sorry haha--is to balance my corporate fashion with my casual style. I typically wear more "formal" jeans, which essentially means dark blue or black jeans (no distressed jeans or holes in my jeans), or else I wear linen pants. And then I choose between a casual shirt/tank paired with a boyfriend blazer or a less formal collared shirt--like the one I'm wearing here--paired with a trench coat (or a sweater if I'm feeling a little preppy). I love adding a pair of pointed-toe mules to my Casual Friday outfit. They're comfortable and still boss-babe-esque!
This approach is affordable and easy because I simply combine the more casual pieces from my corporate closet and the more formal pieces from my casual closet. (By the way, I am metaphorically speaking about my ownership of a corporate closet and a casual closet. But my one closet is very organized--which I will write up on soon--to separate my corporate and casual fashion to avoid the need to decipher between the two on any sleep-deprived morning, haha.)
Outfit Details: Madewell jeans, size 26 (15% off discount for students!); Zara button-down collared shirt, size XS; Franco Sarto mules, size 6.5 (from DSW); Lulu's trench coat, size small
Thanks for reading! Xo, Pax