Casual Dressing Tips
by Contributing Writer
Casual dress lies in the middle of the fashion universe. Go too far and you're being a slob, don't go far enough and you don't look casual. Casual clothing usually changes by function and social activity but because of its middle-of-the-road status, many people confuse the boundaries of casual dress. While it allows room for individual expression and comfort, casual attire still serves a social function--so certain social conventions should be kept in mind.
Casual attire and its many interpretations can most readily be seen in business on casual Fridays. What seemed like a fun and simple intervention led to coworkers turning into the Fashion Police and office policy rules being implemented for the less savvy. Most working environments try to minimize two human impulses: sex and laziness. Clothing that's too overtly sexy or that reveals too much skin should be avoided. It's also best to keep your toes covered: sandals or open toes suggest complete and utter relaxation, which is the antithesis of work. Clothing that's fine to wear at home for relaxation, such as old sweatshirts and wrinkled shorts should also be kept out of the office.
What is not casual?
Casual attire is not what you wear to the gym, beach, or health club, or when you're lounging around at home. In most other situations, this clothing is out of context, and could make others feel they're not important enough for you to make a little extra effort. Casual attire should not be a license for "anything goes."
How to gauge appropriate casual wear
A good rule of thumb is to remember that casual attire is one notch below the usual expected attire. For example, if you are invited to an event that usually requires a suit or cocktail dress but is now suggesting casual wear, you can assume this doesn't mean flip-flops and a T-shirt. Instead, dress one step below the suit or cocktail dress, perhaps in a button-down shirt and a blazer or a nice skirt and a knit top.