Does “Casual Friday” make work attitudes TOO casual?

The online poll we conducted during the week resulted in a response of:

Yes – 39%        No – 61%

From the perspective of a recruitment agency, our consultants consider it inappropriate to wear casual clothes when interviewing as it sets the wrong tone for the candidate. We expect our candidates to dress for their interviews with us as though they were attending an interview with a client’s company – smart, groomed and corporate – therefore, is behooves us to do likewise. 

Aside from this (fairly obvious) scenario, the general consensus amongst the colleagues and friends I queried on this topic was that: 

1. The influence on casual attire on work attitudes depends on the individual. While there is no doubt casual dress can create a more relaxed work environment and even a sense of liberation, I think that those with a good work ethic will not allow their attire to impact on performance. In my view a sloppily dressed or poorly groomed person in “business” attire is more likely to have a sloppy or casual work attitude than a groomed person in casual attire. 

2. There is “casual” and there is “inappropriate”. In the opinion of one Challenge staff member, the latter includes:

  • midriff tops
  • torn jeans (even though they are fashionable)
  • T-shirts with inappropriate slogans
  • too much cleavage
  • hemlines which are too short
  • attire which should be left at the nightclub 


It seems that, in general, when Friday comes around a lot of people do tend to wind down slightly because they are getting ready for the weekend. However, that does not mean people work any differently on Fridays. An individual’s work ethic is not connected to their jeans. 

Another argument for casual Fridays is the affect on staff morale. One Challenge staff member felt that casual attire can, in some instances, lead to casual work attitudes, as employees are more relaxed. This is not necessarily a bad or negative thing, though. It all comes down to the culture that is created within the workplace; if there is a good, solid culture where managers lead by example and employees know they are valued, they will work hard no matter what they wear. 

Much of the above seems to relate to organisations of a “corporate” nature where a certain style of attire is the accepted, default norm. 

But what about offices that are “casual” all the time, such as advertising, technology, arts, etc? Is there a correlation between an employee having the freedom to express their creativity through personal dress, and then translating that into creativity in the workplace?  

Maybe organisations that are so bound by restrictive dress rules and regulations could benefit from letting people express themselves more freely in the workplace? After all, diversity is the mother of innovation. Having said that, when does personal expression cross the line and become just plain bad taste?