Casual Friday

Work culture is a funny thing.  The start up mentality of ultra casual has really infected almost every industry, allowing a more relaxed dress code.  Not only is this a ‘keeping with the times’ move, but it also helps attract younger talent to more established companies.  It all started with casual Friday.  It was a day when jeans were acceptable to a workforce that was starched and stodgy.  While it was a nice gesture, there was a level of discomfort that was obvious.  As the casual Fridays have piled up, and the dress codes have relaxed, it’s important to talk about being correctly casual at work.

While a casual dress code is good, remember that there is risk in losing the uniform.  There are a couple rules that should be kept in mind when getting ready:

First, would you be comfortable if you got on the elevator with the president of the company?
Second, could you be mistaken for an upper class man heading to happy hour?
Third, are you dressing for the job you want?

I always encourage dressing for the upper end of the dress code.  I’m not saying that you need to be the best dressed guy at the office, but by no means should you be anywhere close to the lowest common denominator…I don’t care how hungover you might be.  On dressing for work, my dad gave me some advice long ago: Those that need to notice, will.

Go above and beyond:

Layer up.  It’s the way to dress up a casual outfit without trying too hard.

LBM 1911 Wool Blazer:  No matter the dress code, there is ALWAYS room for a blue blazer.  It goes with almost everything, and immediately dresses up your outfit.
Peter Millar Crown Comfort Quarter Zip:  For the “I’ve got a tee time later this afternoon” look…very appropriate for Spring mornings.
Taylor Stitch Ojai Jacket:  A good, casual jacket is a must-have at the office.  Chances are the only time you’ll wear this will be on the way in and on the way out, but that’s when you are most visible.

The dress shirt play is a must.  The key is to keep them ironed and looking sharp.  A wrinkled dress shirt immediately kills an outfit.

Brooks Brothers Must-Iron OCBD:  Spring is about rebirth, so enjoy a Spring-flavored pink dress shirt from the company that does the best pink OCBD.  Worth every penny.
Ledbury Keyser Plaid Shirt:  A good plaid is extremely versatile.  It goes with jeans, khakis, and 5-pockets.
Drake’s Green Stripe Shirt:  Finally, a fun dress shirt that says ‘I get casual Friday, and I’m buying drinks’.

While I don’t usually wear polos to work, there are rare occasions when I make an exception.  If you are a polo guy, do it right.

Holderness & Bourne Chapman Shirt:  A seriously nice solid polo with no logos is remembered for looking classy.
Criquet Player’s Shirt:  A sharp polo with a vintage cut for the cool guy.  Just make sure it’s ironed.
Ben Silver Palmetto Polo:  A polo with a logo better have a good story.  Strong move for a guy that doesn’t play video games in his spare time.

Pants are the most important part of the casual Friday ethos.  They need to be good quality, have a good fit, and NOT flashy.

APC New Standard Jeans:  Just because jeans are allowed doesn’t mean you mail it in.  Get a great pair of jeans and have them tailored.  It’ll pay off once they break in.
Incotex Slim Fit Cotton Chinos:  Yeah, they are khakis, but is it really a huge inconvenience when jeans are allowed?  A good pair of khakis are casual, but in an adult way.
Rag and Bone 5-Pocket Pants:  Five pockets have taken over.  They are everywhere, and are seriously easy.  Same rules apply – good quality, good fit, and subtle colors.
Ball and Buck 6-point Duck Cotton Pants:  A cool pair of canvas pants are a nice break from jeans.  They wear like jeans, but can be dressed up with a pullover or cool jacket.

Belts are the only way you should try and stand out.  Skip the GTH pants, the loud shirts, and especially the weird socks.  If you want to send any sort of sartorial message, do it with your belt.

Redfish Brand Oyster Buckle & Alligator Strap:  You are a cool guy that enjoys oysters and the oyster roast culture.  I’d hang out with you.
Onward Reserve Single Shot Belt:  You like to shoot shotguns, which means you hunt birds.  I’d hang out with you.
JT Spencer South Carolina Belt:  You’ve been to Charleston.  I’d hang out with you.
Martin Dingman Anderson Belt:  You appreciate high end details, like a tortoise adorned buckle.  I’d hang out with you.

Don’t think too hard on shoes.  At the same time, don’t mail it in either.  Brown loafers in the bit, penny, or driver variety is all you need.

Salvatore Ferragamo Crown Bit Loafers:  “Coffee is for closers.”
Oak Street Bootmakers Natural Beefroll Penny Loafers:  “I have a pair of socks somewhere…”
Onward Reserve Lace Driver:  “I’ve been working in Excel for the past six hours.”

And there you go.



  1. ACM
    03/12/2018 / 8:11 AM

    I need a pair of 5 pockets. Great stuff. There is a big deviation between doing casual the right way and the wrong way. This nails it. 

  2. BW
    03/12/2018 / 1:03 PM

    Great post! Keep up the good work!

  3. Steven
    03/12/2018 / 5:24 PM

    The casual dress code has lead to a lazier workforce. I had a manager and mentor that worked from his home office. He came to visit our office one day many years ago. He explained that he woke every morning and dressed in slacks, dress shirt, and blazer. This was his uniform. I had the pleasure a few years later to speak with his wife and confirm the story. I still follow this dress code. Not to say that his is the only way but I always been successful in my career and I greatly respected him. 

    Moral is don’t stoop to the lowest common denominator. 

  4. J
    03/12/2018 / 5:46 PM

    You need to definitely do a “What’s in my briefcase” post. I’m sure everyone would like to see your daily EDC. 

  5. Nem
    03/12/2018 / 9:47 PM

    I worked 25 years for a financial institution here in GA.  For years it was suit or coat + tie 5 days a week, year ’round.  Casual Friday became a thing in the early 2000’s and in the last 10 I’ve seen clients come to appreciate and expect a more casual environment.  I can tell you without hesitation that laziness comes from within, not from reasonably relaxed dress standards.  Great post, except for the Ferragamos.  Go Gucci, son.

  6. RTB
    03/12/2018 / 10:43 PM

    Looking for some advice. I’ve got several pairs of pants I’d like to get tapered. When speaking with a tailor, what have y’all found to be the best way to convey you want them slim but not tight. Had a bad experience earlier this year i’d like to avoid. 

    • Nem
      03/13/2018 / 8:31 AM

      Tapering trousers can get tricky, and requires a competent tailor.  Depending on the original cut of the pant, tapering from the knee down to cuff often creates too much of a pegged look.  Most pants will require tapering from the hip down.  Inseam and outseam stitching dictates a lot of this.  Assuming a standard pair of pants like Bill’s M1 or M2, your tailor should be able to narrow the legs without leg twist or distortion.  Trying them on and having the tailor pin them is the obvious best option so long as the tailor knows what he is doing.  Furthermore, if you have a favorite pair that fits, try laying them flat and then measuring across from 2″ below the crotch, 17″ below the crotch, and at the hem. This should give the tailor an exact taper to shoot for.    Having said that, I gave up trying to tailor most pants, and only buy fits that I like from the get go.  Also, when I buy Levis 501 garment dyed jeans from Mashburn, I have them taper the legs from the hip down (they have my pant leg measurements and just do it before they ship them).

    • Trip
      03/13/2018 / 2:31 PM

      I will follow-up NEM’s solid advice by saying it is helpful if you can know what size leg opening you want. 15″ seems to be good if you’re going to be wearing them exclusively with low-top shoes (boat shoes, loafers, sneakers, etc.). If you want to wear with boots, you’ll need to bump up to 16″ or possibly 17″. If you can tell your tailor what size leg opening you want, it’s easier to figure out taper from you hips down.

  7. JBL
    03/13/2018 / 2:46 PM

    Question, with the Oak Street Beefroll loafers the website says to order a size down from your dress shoe size if you plan to wear thin or no socks.  Is this accurate?  I doubt I would rarely wear socks with these but can’t imagine sizinf down that much.  Do they really run that big/stretch that much?  I wear a 9.5/10 in an athletic show depending on the brand and rarely wear anything other than an 8.5 in a dress shoe/moc/etc.  Any advice from those who have these?

    • Nem
      03/13/2018 / 6:26 PM

      I’d call them.  I have that pair in my normal 10.5D size and they are fine with any sock, regular, dress, or no show.  I’d probably go down a half size for no socks at all, but I achieve that look always with no-shows.

      • JBL
        03/14/2018 / 4:19 PM

        So do you wear a 11.5 in running shoes?

        • Nem
          03/20/2018 / 8:45 AM

          11D in running shoes actually.

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