Skip to content

Casual Friday dress – a good idea gone too far?

On “Casual Friday” dress

Casual Friday dress is a topic I’ve thought about addressing for some time.  Now seems like a good time, as I think in many ways it dovetails into the previous post “Meandering into Mediocrity”.

If I recall correctly, the concept came into full flower and acceptance in the mid to late eighties.  Needless to say, it’s a relatively recent phenomenon, maybe an idea of the baby boomer generation.  “The boomers were not only the biggest generation in American history, they were the most self-absorbed and self-congratulatory.” -1   It was originally intended as an alternative to the more formal business attire commonly worn in the work place.  Friday, being the end of the week and the beginning of the week-end, dressing down somewhat seemed not all together a bad idea; ………..a rather benign proposition.  Rather than a shirt, tie and wingtips; – a golf shirt, slacks and loafers were thought to be acceptable for men.  For women instead of skirt, blouse and heels, a colored pull-over top, slacks and flats were considered acceptable alternatives.

Currently there is nothing “casual” about attire commonly seen in the workplace as well as in public.  Casual attire has deteriorated into sloppy, ludicrous and often offensive attire.  Nothing is inappropriate anywhere, at any time.

As it has turned out, we started down a very steep and slippery slope, resulting in the total deterioration of acceptable attire in public, let alone the workplace.

Believe it or not, there was a time when people “dressed-up” to take a commercial flight, go out to eat, attend a concert or sporting event, even the movies.  We wore our “Sunday best” to church.  Women would not go out in public with their hair in curlers or without make-up.

Haven’t you seen about all the bare midriffs and butt cracks you want to see?  Particularly on people waaay past their physical prime, people who just a generation ago wouldn’t think of appearing anywhere like that, much less in public.

I’m not sure it’s fair to blame the deterioration of style on “Casual Friday”.  Perhaps there’s more to it than that benign concept.  However, it may have given credence to and tacit approval of a mindset and attitude already firmly in place.

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not a result of our tremendous affluence.  Bear with me now, as I try to explain.

During the most dire of economic times; the “Great Depression” and immediately thereafter, late thirties to mid-forties, even the poorest of us, dressed up when we “went to town”.  If a farm family appeared in public, the man may have on bib-overalls, but he wore some type of suite-coat or sport coat, his shirt may be denim or khaki, but he wore a tie and a felt fedora. His shoes may have been high-topped with metal eyelets, but they were brushed and polished.

Today, in the midst of overwhelming prosperity, we dress like the poorest of the poor; like rag-tagged street urchins.  Are we really ashamed of our high standard of living?  Arguments can be made that we’re being lead to believe such.  Styles depicted as “Prison chic”, and “Heroin chic”……..aren’t they commonly used in today’s fashion magazines?

I’m thinking this parallels our deteriorating value system as much, or more than anything.  Let’s redistribute the wealth ————so we’re all more equal.  Egalitarianism……..that’s the ideal.  Don’t get out in front of anyone else.  Underachieve so you won’t be looked down on as different from your peers!

Again, if not “Slouching to Gomorrah”, surly we’re Meandering into Mediocrity”!

I’ve quoted Mark Twain on many occasions, to make various points and here is one apropos to this subject.  “Cloths make the man………..naked people have very little influence in society.”  “The psychological meaning of clothing is something academics have been curious about for more than a century, particularly the influential Harvard psychologist William James who believed ( the clothes you wear ranked just under your physical body, but above your immediate family, in contributing to your understanding of who you are.” -2

Dress like a slob…….act like a slob!

“And modern research has borne this idea out, suggesting that clothes indeed influence self-perception.  People who feel dressed-up are more likely to think of themselves as competent and rational; in contrast, those who are dressed casually tend to describe their personality accordingly, as friendly and laid-back.  Recently, a team of researchers from Columbia University and California State University, Northridge, took this idea a step further and conducted a series of five experiments that suggest the clothes we wear don’t just influence the way we think about ourselves; they also seem to influence the way we think, period.

Specifically, they found that people who felt more formally dressed than the people around them were more likely to think abstractly.  “And by that we mean, basically, holistic or big-picture thinking – so not focusing on the details but seeing bigger ideas, seeing how things connect from a more high-level perspective.” – 2

So does dressing like a slob reduce our ability to think big picture?  Or does it just put us in a frame of mind not to think or act at all…………be “laid-back”………….be like everyone else.  Just keep meandering into mediocrity!

1 – -we-stopped-dressing-for-work?/






  1. John John

    Yes I am tired of seeing people who’s appearance invokes the image of a can of biscuits popping open. I agree our deteriorating appearance is in concert with our deteriorating values as we celebrate mediocrity. Collectively our standards across a broad landscape have lowered drastically.

  2. gary clark gary clark

    That “casualness has crept into of all places our churches. Yes I know, God looks at the heart not what you’re wearing. Respect the place your going. He gave us His Son! The least we can do is dress like we appreciate it!! Ladies step up and encourage your other half.guys…when you are out for a date night. Lose the t-shirt and shorts with flip flops…Show you care about your appearance…So what is so wrong about looking first class as opposed to “I really don’t care what I look like and this required little or no effort on my part!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *