Business Casual and Your Company’s Image

Business Casual and Your Company’s Image
  • Opening Intro -

    Casual Fridays began in the 1980s, a non-compensation perk that allowed employees to dress down once per week.

    It was initiated during a deep recession when businesses were looking for ways to boost morale, given that pay increases were limited or frozen.


Since then, some companies have extended the casual look to every business day, while other businesses have eliminated this entitlement completely. If you want to still offer a business casual perk you can do so without tarnishing your company’s image.


As businesses began to adopt Casual Fridays, concern was raised by some about what forms of dress were acceptable. Human Resources departments were quickly forced to provide an addendum to the employee handbook and issue one or more memorandums clarifying the company’s position. Some companies gladly embraced the Hawaiian shirt and flip flops while others insisted on business casual attire that provided a happy medium between strict and relaxed dress codes.

Providing Flexibility

Whether your company provides Casual Fridays or embraces a relaxed dress code always, there are some ground rules that may be important, depending on your type of business. Those rules depend largely on your clients and their perceptions, and is of greater importance for financial and corporate businesses than for a bakery or other service-oriented business.

Your company may choose a flexible approach to casual dress, allowing back-end office and other workers out of the line of customer sight to dress casually. For sales representatives and primary contact individuals, such as receptionists and executives, business attire might be necessary. Your employees should understand that differences in attire requirements should not be equated with promoting favoritism or discrimination, rather it provides flexibility for the position held.

Employee Input

Though casual dress policies are usually conceived and implemented by upper management, companies may want to gauge interest from general employees when formulating or revising a policy. Your employees can determine the mood that a casual dress policy can provide and offer a clear guideline of what is deemed acceptable dress and what is not.

For instance, while your team may be comfortable with slacks and shirts with open collars, some may object to tight pants and blouses. Open-toed shoes and spike heels might be out, sneakers and boat shoes, and a list of other restrictions noted. The point here is that a committee of your workers pulled together to fashion a dress-code policy, offering its ideas.

Corporate Policy

Ultimately, your business casual policy will depend largely on your company’s culture, the type of business that is in and its location. Your company might also provide a hybrid dress policy where employees can dress casually when working in the office, but upgrade to business attire when entertaining clients or when meeting with customers.

See Also7 Tips for a Productive Casual Friday


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Categories: Small Business

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".