Tackling the Ambiguous Casual Fridays

By Amanda Cohen on August 31, 2017

Whether you just ended your summer internship, just started a full-time job, or are starting a fall semester internship, you have definitely heard of casual Fridays. However, like the terms business-casual and business formal, casual Fridays are pretty ambiguous.

When I asked my employer about the dress code for casual Fridays she told me to wear whatever I usually wear to class. For the record, I wear sweatpants and a t-shirt to class most of the time, which is simply not appropriate for the office. So, I am here to break it down for you because casual Fridays are not only ambiguous, but they are also complicated because the definition of casual depends on what your usual workday attire is.

If you want to embrace the casual Friday atmosphere, read on!


If you are working in an environment where you have to dress in business formal attire, casual Fridays will look something like this. For girls, a pair of non-ripped jeans that aren’t too tight. Pair the jeans with a nice blouse that doesn’t expose too much skin and a pair of closed-toe shoes. You will have the liberty to wear your hair a little messier, so definitely take advantage of this opportunity. For boys, jeans or khakis with a polo or a button-down that you would not normally wear to the office on Mondays-Thursdays. You can also wear classy sneakers and/or boat shoes (obviously nothing open-toed). Even though it’s more casual you should still remember to look presentable and cute.

For those of you who work in a business casual environment, you definitely have much more leniency than most people do. For girls, you can wear appropriate-length skirts and shorts, ripped jeans, a romper, a sundress, and a simple t-shirt. Pair any of these outfits with a cute pair of sneakers; for example, I always work my Superstar Adidas on Fridays.

However, girls, under no circumstances should you ever wear yoga pants to the office. I always wear yoga pants as actual pants, but it’s not appropriate for the workplace. For guys, you can wear nice shorts, khakis, jeans, and a cool, yet classy, t-shirt. Pair any of these options with boat shoes, sneakers, or even sandals at some offices! Use Fridays as an opportunity to showcase your own personal style and embrace the clothing that you love most.

Some of my favorite outfits for casual Fridays were a nice pair of jeans, my Adidas, and a linen or cloth top that didn’t reveal too much skin. I noticed that the men in my office would wear jeans or khakis, a nice polo or button-down, and no tie. Fridays were so laid back at my office, as I’m sure they were for many of you who interned in the summer, and it was exciting to see how people expressed themselves through fashion.

However, I do have a list of items that should always be avoided, regardless if it is a casual Friday:

•Ripped jeans (unless your office usually embraces a casual environment Monday-Thursday)

•Open-toed shoes (unless your feet are pedicured)


•Low-cut tops

•Tops with holes in them



•Shirts with strange sayings on them

•Crop tops (even if it is only a little bit cropped)

•Short dresses

•Strappy dresses

•Strappy tops

•Dirty sneakers

However, I wouldn’t really embrace the casual Friday dress code until after a couple of weeks at your internships and/or job. First impressions are everything, and the first couple of weeks at a job are crucial. You want to seem extremely professional. I always think it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed because it shows that you care and it shows your employers you are going to take your new job very seriously.

So, ladies, on your first casual Friday, I suggest wearing silk joggers or dark wash non-ripped jeans. Men, you don’t have to wear a tie on your first casual Friday, but your shirt should be collared and not overly eccentric. In addition, men, I would suggest wearing boat shoes over sneakers for the first couple of weeks. As you ease into the office lifestyle, you can become more lenient and relaxed with your outfits. If you are too nervous to ask your boss about dress codes, talk to a fellow employee who doesn’t control your future at the company.


I will never forget how nervous I was once I finally decided to embrace casual Fridays, but I’m telling you that it is okay to dress casually on Fridays because everyone else in the company dresses that way also. As long as you always look like you put some effort into your outfit and appearance and as long as you look appropriate, you cannot go wrong.

For those of you starting internships and full-time positions, I wish you the best of luck! Look at your new job as an opportunity to improve your life and an excuse to do some more shopping!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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