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When Did Causal Friday Die?

Jan 4

I love the fact that at some point almost every industry decided that it was mostly stupid to wear suits and ties and dresses to work. Even more, Business Casual has mostly died out as well.

I can’t tell you how many F500 organizations I go into where the head of HR or head of Talent is wearing jeans. At my company we went casual pretty late, primarily because we are a service organization and we match that dress of our clients we go to visit.

You’ve probably seen some of these sayings going around social media:

  • There was a day when you picked up your child for the last time. You didn’t know it the time, but you’ll never pick them up again.
  • There was a day when you went outside to play with your friends. You didn’t know it at the time, but you never went out again to play.

We do a ton of stuff then one day we stop doing it and we don’t even realize it. I like to think that’s what happened to Casual Fridays.

For the longest time Casual Fridays were the thing! Some companies used them as motivation, some used them as charity vehicles to raise money for great causes, etc. Then one day, every day was casual and we no longer needed Casual Friday.

I’m not 100% sold that being casual at work all the time is the answer and there is some growing research that says the same thing. There are certain times when dressing up puts you in a better psychological state of mind!

In the study, The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing, researchers found that when a person puts on formal clothing (business formal, not wedding formal) our brain gets us to believe we are better than maybe we really are! 

When wearing formal business clothing we tend to do certain things better, like negotiating. If you were going to close a deal with a big client, it’s best you don’t show up in jeans and a hoodie, even if those you’ll be negotiating with will be. In fact, you’ll have an advantage over them if you did show up fully suited up! 

Billionaire, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Mavericks recently shared a post he wrote in 2007, doubling down on his belief we should never wear suits and he says he only does, to this day, for weddings and funerals. 

Mark doesn’t believe in the psychological impact of wearing a suit and tie (despite what the research says) and believes letting your employees be casual is the way to go. Since his post in 2007, I would dare to say 100% of tech companies are casual! 

I’ve worked in a business that went from a formal dress code, to a business casual dress code, to a casual dress code. I’m not sure I can tell you one made a difference over another.

I know from a client relationship standpoint when I was in formal clothing, clients felt a little uncomfortable when I was dressed up and they weren’t. But, those same clients when I was meeting them for the first time knew I looked at their business with the utmost importance. Once the relationship was established, I’m sure they felt more at ease when I showed up looking like they did.

From an employment brand standpoint I never understood the large organizations where they executives still wear suit and tie but the rank and file are casual. But I feel the same way about coaches on sidelines wearing suits, or even politicians. There is definitely a psychological power play with all of these.

So, raise one up for Casual Fridays or pour one out or whatever it is you do when something you’ve known for so long dies. Casual Fridays, you’ll be remembered well, or at least remembered as ‘why the hell did we do that?”

12 Comment to “When Did Causal Friday Die?”

  1. Good article. Informative. Thought provoking… However, responding to business environmental factors calls for different approaches depending on situation or ocassion.

    Likewise, dress accordingly, in line with the business encounter, transaction or situation.

    In the final analysis, dress sensibly and appropriately. Your dress succeeds you, as well as reflects upon the standard of you and the organization. While subtle, it may also be associated with one’s readiness for next level responsibility.

    Bryan Chapman
    Senior HR Manager

    Bryan Chapman
    Jan 9, 2019
  2. Good article. Informative. Thought provoking… However, responding to business environmental factors calls for different approaches depending on situation or ocassion.

    Likewise, dress accordingly, in line with the business encounter, transaction or situation.

    In the final analysis, dress sensibly and appropriately. Your dress succeeds you, as well as reflects upon the standard of you and the organization.

    Bryan Chapman
    Senior HR Manager

    Bryan Chapman
    Jan 9, 2019
  3. Good article. Informative. Thought provoking… However, Responding to business environmental factors calls for different approaches depending on situation or ocassion.

    Likewise, dress accordingly, in line with the business encounter, transaction or situation.

    In the final analysis, dress sensibly and appropriately. You’re dress succeeds you, as well as reflects upon the standard of you and the organization.

    Bryan Chapman
    Senior HR Manager

    Bryan Chapman
    Jan 9, 2019
  4. Agree with you Kate!

    Shelley Kurth
    Jan 7, 2019
  5. Absolutely “dress for the day” and “dress appropriately” sounds so adult and accountable. But…the old but…I do see the up side of the research as well. Sometimes you just need to do a little suiting up! Thanks for sharing!

    Kelley M McIntyre
    Jan 4, 2019
    • Love it – “Dress for the day!” or like my mom would say, “Be an Adult!” 😉

      T

      Jan 4, 2019
  6. I have been wearing jeans to work for 6+ years, and I love it. When looking for a new job, it was a turn off if I thought I’d have to go back to slacks. Dressing up makes me feel more self-conscious and uncomfortable, its just not me. My current job, a large corporation, the policy is “Dress for your Day” if you are meeting a client, you dress up a little, sitting at a cube all day, jeans are fine. But tops and shoes should still be business casual, no hoodies, no athletic shoes, no t-shirts, no graphics. While I don’t think you should look like you just rolled out of bed, if you know your stuff, casual dress shouldn’t matter. I’d rather talk to someone knowledgeable in jeans than someone dressing up to disguise their lack of knowledge.

    Kelly
    Jan 4, 2019
  7. Wages have not increased at the same rate as inflation or even medical care costs. Therefore it’s easier on the monthly budget to only have one set of clothing that you can wear to work and outside of work. A casual dress code is one less thing an employee has to be concerned with and one less thing to spend hard-earned dollars on.

    Kristen R
    Jan 4, 2019
    • Kristen,

      I think your logic is sound, but in reality, it seems like it’s more difficult/expensive to ‘dress casual’ than it was to dress in business clothing each day! I use to have black and navy slacks, with white and blue button downs, it was like a uniform. I then had far less casual clothing. Now my closet is jammed because I don’t want to wear a shirt I just wore last week! God forbid if someone noticed! 😉

      T

      Jan 4, 2019
  8. This whole post reminded me of the Dostoyevsky quote below, especially this line…”our brain gets us to believe we are better than maybe we really are!”

    “Let us agree that we shall never forget one another, and whatever happens, remember how good it felt when we were all here together, united by a good and decent feeling which made us better people, better probably than we would otherwise have been.”

    –Feodor Dostoyevsky

    Jan 4, 2019
  9. Clothing does so much more than clothe us. It conveys status, personality and often-times, values and priorities. We make choices about what we wear and those choices are publicly displayed. In a business setting, there is value in understanding rank. There is a reason the military will never go casual!

    Jan 4, 2019
  10. I’ve always loved how Mary Barra, CEO at GM, replaced the 10 page dress code policy with a straight forward, two-word statement: “Dress Appropriately”.

    https://qz.com/work/1242801/gms-dress-code-is-only-two-words/

    Jan 4, 2019

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