How casual should business casual be? We’ve all struggled with what to wear on dress down Fridays and unfortunately appealing to people’s “good judgement” has seen standards in many offices plummet to the lowest common denominator. Put your hands up if you’ve seen miniskirts, halter tops, cargo pants, rugby shirts or sneakers in the office on a Friday. The definition of business casual may well come down to the type of company that you are working or your position in the company but the jury is in and the verdict is sloppy dress and the impression you give is sloppy work.
Always make sure that your image matches your clothes so as not to sacrifice your professionalism or integrity. The way you dress sends subtle signals about the respect you have for your clients, the company you represent and yourself. The first rule of thumb is that even business dress down clothes should be clean, with no creases, tears, holes, stains or loose buttons. Do the once-over in the mirror before you leave your house or your hotel room. If you are a manager, your staff are always going to take cues from you, so it is vital you set the right tone. It is prudent to always have a jacket or extra tie in the office for the men and ladies a conservative sweater or scarf as you never know when you might have to see an important client on short notice.
Casual Friday’s should not mean you automatically reach for the company polo shirt as wearing anything emblazoned with the company logo shows a lack of imagination and sophistication. People will often look at your feet before your face so wearing sandals, sneakers, hiking boots or stiletto heels will bring your professional credibility into question. And by all means accessorize your outfits, especially ladies, to show off your style personality but don’t go overboard with the jewelry – it should never distract but complement.
Learn more about how this and other soft skills can help you in business at www.publicimageafrica.com