When I was starting out in my career as a lawyer in a large Australian law firm, the dress code was uber-conservative. Suits. That was basically all you were allowed to wear. God knows how I managed to get dressed each morning without falling asleep. I got on board with it nevertheless, believing that a nicely tailored, navy pantsuit would be the key to my career success. I tried to mix it up a bit and add my own flair, but back then when it came to a strictly corporate dress code there was a limit to what fabulous shoes could do to an otherwise boring outfit. Surely Casual Friday would have been my chance to bridge the yawning (literally) chasm between my workplace-lawyer self and my real self…
At that time, Casual Friday provided no such freedom. There were so many restrictions on what could and could not be worn on Casual Fridays that it basically boiled down to wearing a suit, just without the jacket. There was nothing casual, “Friday” or remotely stylish about it.
Fortunately, I now work in media in London and the dress code is a lot more flexible. The Casual Friday dress code varies depending on what floor you work on. On the sales department floor of a Friday, I would describe the general style as “night-club chic”. If, on the other hand you wander onto my floor, consisting of the finance, tax, audit and legal departments (the rock n roll floor), we keep it a little more (office) apropos.
So while I would love to go wild (sartorially speaking) on a Casual Friday in a vignette of leather trousers, transparent floaty tops, sexy stilettos and leopard print, I’ve still got to keep it work apropos. My fashion-girl flag is allowed to fly, but I’ve just got to keep it at half mast. This often involves a uniform of jeans and t-shirts with a tailored blazer, heels and statement jewellery.
Here, I’ve gone for a slightly more preppy look, but I’ve kept it current with drop-crotch trousers and oversized stripes. The casual look of the trousers, and semi-masculine aesthetic is countered with delicate, sharp heels.
Nowadays the chasm between my lawyer-self and Out-Of-Office-self isn’t yawning so much as it is smiling through gritted teeth. I’ll be happy when I get to a place where I no longer keep my play-clothes in a separate part of my wardrobe from my work-clothes. I’ll keep you posted.