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Essay

Is Business Casual Dress Appropriate?

By Joyce E. Byrd

OBVIOUSLY, most companies want their employees to project the company in the most favorable light.  Does business casual clothing compromise the corporate image?

Many professional corporations have adopted a business casual dress code for employees.  Some companies permit this more relaxed form of attire on “casual Fridays” while others have implemented the code for everyday dress.

Personnel professionals maintain that the new business casual philosophy has greatly improved recruiting and retention efforts.  In this day and age where market competition is fierce and employee retention is low, a break from monotony through business casual dress can help boost morale by providing a comfortable, friendly work atmosphere.  If it is implemented as “casual Fridays” it provides another reason to look forward to Fridays!

Conversely, some people do not have appropriate “business casual” clothes—particularly to extend for an entire week.  A closet filled with designer suits and scraggly jeans is not uncommon.  Such employees would either stand out in their business suits on casual days or would have to invest in a business casual wardrobe.  And, what if an employee receives a last-minute invitation on the day of an important executive or client meeting?  Should he dash home to change clothes, carry a spare suit just in case, or risk being the only person at the meeting dressed in business casual clothing?  Inconsistencies can send mixed signals to employees as well as visitors.

Does business casual attire influence professionalism?  Is the image projected in khaki slacks and an open-necked shirt that different from the fašade of a suit and tie?  If the individual is well-groomed and neat in appearance and presents himself as knowledgeable and professional, is the packaging that important?

Copyright © 2000, Joyce E. Byrd.  All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2000-2007, Joyce E. Byrd.  All rights reserved.