Dressing Down Through The Decades

Thank God it’s Friday (TGIF).

Along with morning coffee, those words still put a smile on our face.

The Origin of Casual Friday

Back in the early 70’s, a prestigious bank in the Wall S
treet area generated a memo announcing the pantsuit as the official Friday “Dress-down” attire for all female employees. Male employees were permitted to shed their ties and suit jackets; hence Casual Friday was created.

Subsequently, within that decade, a "Jeans 'n' Sneakers" policy was also approved, but restricted to Corporate Management with business-related air travel; otherwise, the corporate dress code remained in effect.

Casual Friday was monitored and continued to produce favorable results; hence, jeans and sneakers were officially deemed acceptable as Friday’s “dress-down” for all essential and non-essential employees.

The one drawback ensued regarding Friday's clients and visitors. The options were weighed as follows: Arrive at the office in full corporate attire then change into the "dress-down” after the meeting or, arrive at the office in casual attire, but carry the business suit in a garment bag.

When switching wardrobe became more of a hassle than the business meeting it was Management’s decision to invite and encourage all clients to partake of “Casual Friday”.

Responses were divided. Initially a few “old school” clients preferred to maintain their corporate image while a slightly larger percent of clients respected this new Friday freedom.

Eventually the entire client population accepted and embraced the Casual Friday policy. This new and relaxed concept actually enhanced business. The Executive Board (President and Chairman) were also seen making their rounds, sporting jeans ‘n’ sneakers; hence, the slogan: “Contented employees are productive employees” was created.

Dressing for interviews became problematic.  If the hiring firm had a casual dress code, the interview still required corporate attire. Once the job was “in hand” the successful candidate would partake of the firm's dress-down policy.

Oppressive summer heat demanded cool and comfortable attire; hence, Casual Friday became Summer Casual, slowly phasing out the corporate image.

The relaxed dress code reached the ultimate level of abuse when employees arrived at the workplace sporting beach attire. Employees were reprimanded and told to either leave the office and return with an appropriate change of clothing or, lose a day's pay.

By the late 90’s to present, Casual Friday was replaced by Business Casual 365.

While the classic pantsuit remains premier, Business Casual now includes dress jeans, dress slacks, coordinates, ankle-length dresses or skirts, all of which are accessorized with hip-length blazers for the ladies. Men are now sporting dress jeans, khaki or, dress slacks, shirt and no tie.

Fashion runs its course, yet must contain boundaries on some level. Whether or not the corporate attire makes a comeback remains undetermined; however, Business Casual now sports a more dignified, respectable label and dominates the industry.

Today, the Corporate Image is now associated with: Interviews, Realtor or, Funeral Director.

Image Credit - Pantsuit - courtesy of tielove


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