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Casual Dress Days: Why Employees Like Them

Updated on October 30, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.

Employees like to wear their favorite jeans and comfy shoes on casual dress days.
Employees like to wear their favorite jeans and comfy shoes on casual dress days. | Source

Casual Days at Work

Many employers implement a "Casual Day" for employees at the workplace. These opportunities to dress down or more casually than usual allow employees to work in clothing of their choosing. Many employees find such relaxed dress codes a perk because the daily business attire that is required on all other work days can be seen as stuffy, uncomfortable and somewhat constraining. Wearing casual clothes that are comfortable to the employee seems to lighten the mood for all at the workplace. For many employees, this deviation from wearing the required business clothes is a stress reliever.

Employees must remember that "Casual Day" is a perk that employers allow in the workplace. While wearing jeans, cotton shirts, etc., may be acceptable on this special day, it is important for employees to remember that they represent the company at all times to the public. Depending on the permitted attire and the type of business allowing the casual dress, supervisors must always maintain a sense of professionalism that does not negatively affect the image of the business at hand.

What is Acceptable for Casual Dress?

Depending on the organization and the business it conducts, the acceptable definition of what constitutes, "casual dress" can vary tremendously. Some generally accepted examples for casual dress days are as follows:

General Dress:

  • Gentlemen: Khaki or cotton trousers are generally acceptable to wear for an organization's casual dress day. If not khaki, employees often wear navy or blacks slacks with a knit or golf type of shirt. Some male employees may even wear an oxford shirt with a tie along with some casual pants. Jeans are often acceptable as long as they are accompanied by a knit or cotton shirt. Wearing a belt with pants will always present a well put together outfit. Shorts can be acceptable, but should be neat and at an appropriate length. "Casual" does not have to equate to sloppy. All clothes should still be clean and pressed in order to portray a neat appearance.
  • Ladies: Female employees often wear casual clothes that they might wear on a weekend or their day off. Again, cotton blouses, knit tops, jeans, khakis, etc., are usually quite appropriate for the workplace under such circumstances. Female employees may choose to wear skirts and dresses of appropriate lengths. Capri's or shorts may be permitted, depending on the organization.

Shoes and Accessories:

  • Gentlemen: The types of shoes that are acceptable on "Casual Day" vary depending on the type of work that is done. There will certainly be safety considerations for those employees who must work outside on equipment where a safety boot should always be worn. For those employees in recreation, gym or athletic shoes will probably be most appropriate. Athletic shoes are often worn in the office environment on "Casual Day". These shoes should be clean and in fairly good condition to maintain that neat appearance.

Jewelry such as necklaces and watches should not be offensive in nature.

  • Ladies: Open toe shoes and sandals are acceptable only in those work environments which expressly permit such attire. Flip flops are generally not wise due to their relaxed appearance.

Questions regarding "Casual Day" should be addressed to the appropriate supervisor to avoid any confusion about which clothing items are acceptable.

Have a Casual Day Policy

Like any other activity in the workplace, supervisors are responsible for maintaining a productive work environment for all. Casual clothes should not be a distraction to the work that must get accomplished. Employees should adhere to the guidelines that are outlined in a dress policy to avoid any employee relations issues in the workplace. The policy should present guidelines for supervisors to follow in the administration of the casual dress day. For employers with multiple work sites and areas of specialization, the policy should allow for some flexibility on the part of each department with the supervisors using some discretion in these matters. Since employers need to conduct business and project a good image to the public at all times, employees must avoid any clothing that will appear inappropriate even on "Casual Day". For example, low cut tops or dirty sneakers in an office setting can be most distracting to customers or visitors to the organization. Supervisors of a work group should have the discretion to decide what casual clothes are acceptable to a work environment.

Some closing thoughts...

Casual dress day at an organization is generally a well-received perk that employees enjoy in the workplace. As long as the employee casual dress day does not distract others from getting the work done, employees will appreciate the opportunity to dress down at work. In order for these days to be successful, supervisors must also ensure that employees are not abusive in the choice of wardrobe they make. Having a policy which outlines the organization's philosophy will provide guidance to both supervisors and employees.

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