Casual Friday has eeked its way into every day of the week. I remember when we had to earn the right to dress business casual on Friday, but only if we hit our sales numbers. Then during fund raising season we could earn the right to wear dress jeans but only if we paid $1 for each day we wore jeans.
Now shorts and sandals, flip flops and torn jeans are an everyday occurrence.
Even when I meet with clients I find them in jeans and polo shirts. I met with three attorneys last week and I felt dressed forwith my dress slacks and jacket in comparison to their casual attire.
So is there a time when you wear a suit or have they gone the way of suede fringed vests and platform shoes?
In a recent article on MSN Careers they ask "do you dress for the boardroom or the mailroom?"
Sandy Dumont, an image consultant for the Virginia-based consulting firm The Image Architect, would beg to differ. "The way you look and dress announces the outcome other people can expect from you. It also announces how you feel about yourself," she says. After all, it is this philosophy that is the reason businesses like The Career Wardrobe, Wings for Success and MenzFit exist. These non-profit organizations provide free professional clothing to low-income men and women with the aim of helping them advance into the workforce with a refined appearance and renewed confidence.
As a trained speaker I've been taught to dress one step above the expected dress of the audience and I do still find that Chamber lunches are more formally attired, but for the most part business dress has gone the way of business casual.
However, this MSN article is still a proponent of dressing for success.
"Dress for the position you want, not the position you have." Despite this popular belief, however, building a professional work wardrobe doesn't have to be complicated or cost a fortune. Simply stick to classic pieces that won't go out of style and gradually add separates to build around these pieces.* Start with the following basics:
Suit: Every professional man or woman needs at least one traditional, well-tailored suit in a classic color. Women who choose a skirt suit should also have a pair of pants as a coordinating piece.
Button-down shirts: Classic white is a must because it looks good with anything, but buy a few in different colors that match your suit.
Shoes: Women should invest in black leather pumps and walking shoes, such as a good, comfortable pair of loafers or ballet flats in leather. Men should have at least one pair of black leather shoes and a black leather belt to wear with them.
Accessories: Women should accessorize with a few pieces of jewelry and a good leather tote bag, and men should wear a watch and have either a black or brown leather wallet.
What is the dress is your business? Does casual dress impact the way you view someone's ability to do their job?
Deborah Chaddock Brown