Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Casual Fridays: Business casual in the workplace

Student models Z and Elolm at last week's
Suit Yourself fashion show.

You have just finished your fourth day at your new job when your boss comes up and tells you, "Feel free to dress for casual Friday tomorrow."
"Hmm, business casual clothing," you think as you scrunch your brows in concentration and try to remember what characters on "The Office" wore for their weekly office ritual.
Business casual is a broadly defined dress code permitted in some workplaces. Its purpose is to allow employees to dress in a more casual, comfortable manner than more formal attire, such as suits and ties, according to the Colorado Daily's article, "A Casual Conversation." Each company defines business casual differently depending on location, company culture, and daily agendas, among other factors.    
If you're unsure how exactly a company you're working at or interviewing to work at defines business casual, there are a few steps you can take to figure it out:
  1. If you have already been hired, think back to the company's interview process. What was everyone in the office wearing? If business casual attire is permitted for an upcoming interview you have at a company, it's safer to dress more conservatively for the interview and your first few days of work until you're more familiar with the dress code.
  2. Factor in location. Are you working at a company on the East Coast or Midwest? Though it's not true with every company, employees located in these regions tend to dress more conservatively.
  3. What type of company do you work for, and what department are you in? Again, not always, but sometimes technology companies have a less conservative, more casual dress code. Ask around the office or ask the receptionist what employees typically wear.
  4. Who are you meeting with that day? If you have an appointment with a potential client, dressing up is always the safe bet.
If you're still unsure what to wear, here are a few basic guidelines for business casual attire:
  • Women: Slacks, skirts that are knee length or longer, button down blouses or shirts, sweaters that aren't too tight fitting, jackets, blazers or vests, dressy shoes with low or flat heels, minimum makeup, and conservative accessories.
  • Men: slacks, khakis, chinos, gabardine trousers, button down or knit pullover shirts with a collar, sweaters with a collared shirt underneath, business or sports jackets, dressy shoes with matching brown, dark blue or black socks, or a tie if in doubt.
Remember, how you dress for internships, work, and career-related interviews should reflect your personal brand. Make sure your attire is a representation of how you’d like yourself to be seen by employers—clean, crisp, and professional.      
If you're still struggling to find something in your closet that qualifies as business casual and/or you're looking for more formal business attire, stop by Abrams Lounge on the third floor of the C4C today for Suit Yourself, a professional clothing sale sponsored by Career Services. We will be selling clean, gently worn business attire to students at a discounted price today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Gently worn suits from designers such as Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Talbots and Jos.A.Banks will be on sale for $20, and jackets, shirts, pants and skirst will be sold for $5 to $10 each. Come pick out a new suit or jacket today!