September 2, 2014

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Dressing Down

Adopt a Professional, Stylish Look for Casual Friday

Compiled by Rachel Madison and Heather Stewart

September 2, 2014

What, exactly, is appropriate attire for casual Friday?  “Many men struggle with the idea of casual Friday,” says Jason Yeats, co-founder of Beckett & Robb, a company that specializes in custom suits and dress shirts. “Often wardrobes are built around two extremes: semi-formal and barbecue attire. As we consult with men about their wardrobes, we are often asked about how to successfully bridge these two extremes. The rules are easy, once you learn them, and they will help men look like the well-groomed adults they are, rather than a college kid still learning the ropes.”

Wear a sport coat or sweater

Yeats says casual Friday attire should only go down the formality scale “one or two clicks.” He explains, “If you normally wear a suit to work, try a sport coat without a tie. If a sport coat is a Monday through Thursday norm, try a nice button-up, short-sleeve shirt (summer) or a sweater over a collared dress shirt (winter).”  

A sport coat is not the same as a suit coat

“A sport coat has texture, pattern, color and design details that make it decidedly less dressy than a worsted wool suit coat,” Yeats says. “If your suit has pinstripes, lacks texture and is serious in any way, you should only wear it as a suit. If you shop carefully you can find suits that have the proper elements to allow the jacket to be worn as a sport coat.”

Don’t ever wear a polo or T-shirt under a jacket

“There are situations where these looks can work, but the workplace really isn’t one of them. Stick to long-sleeved, collared shirts,” Yeats says.

Tuck in your shirt and wear a belt

“If you work someplace formal enough to need to label Friday as ‘casual,’ then you’re mature enough that you should almost always tuck in your shirts,” Yeats says.

Get the right shoes

Finding the right footwear is key, says Yeats. “Formal black and brown shoes are too much, and tennis shoes or flip flops won’t work either. If your workplace is on the more formal side, consider adding some suede shoes to the collection. A suede cap toe or a chukka boot work great with chinos and jeans as well as a more casual wool trouser. If your work is already fairly casual, try a nicer canvas sneaker—not a shoe you’d actually wear to play tennis, but a dressy sneaker like a Sperry Topsider, one of the Converse low-top collaborations with Jack Purcell, or even a slip-on from Ralph Lauren Polo or Vans.”

Choose slim, dark denim

 When it comes to denim, chose dark blue, not black, and stay away from distressing, on-purpose holes and tears, or thick contrast stitching. “You won’t find these pants at the Buckle,” Yeats says. “Spend $100 at Nordstrom, Banana Republic or J. Crew. They will match almost everything.”

Get clothing that fits

The most important thing, says Yeats, is to buy clothing that fits properly. “If you haven’t already, rethink your size. Many men that have always assumed they are XL are really a medium. Give it a shot. Bring your wife shopping—she’ll give you the straight skinny.” 

Casual Friday Tips for Women

Kelsee Kinder, a fashion stylist and assistant manager at an upscale women’s clothing store in Park City, offers some casual Friday tips for women:

Wear denim with a darker, indigo wash and make sure the fit is correct—jeans that are too tight or too loose can be unflattering.

Keep the neckline in mind when choosing a shirt; v-necks are universally flattering while crew necks work well for women with longer necks.

When choosing a T-shirt fabric, pick a lightweight, rayon blend.

Accessories are important because they can pull a look together; bangles with a necklace or a light scarf are a good choice for transitioning into fall.

Instead of wearing heels, try a pair of wedge booties or flats that can transition between a variety of casual looks.

Lightweight jersey or knit dresses can be dressed up during the work week and dressed down with flats on casual Fridays.

Neutral colors and earth tones are great choices, especially deeper greens and maroons, which look flattering on many different skin tones and provide a smooth transition into fall.

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