The Guys’ Guide to Casual Friday

So, your company has given you the freedom to dress down on Fridays. It may be tempting to throw on your favorite T-shirt and a pair of perfectly worn-in jeans, but don’t forget that the office is still a professional setting—casual day or not. Keep these guidelines in mind to stay classy while being comfortable.

Copy the alpha male. Take note of what the highest-ranking male in your work division (or, better yet, his boss) wears on Fridays. Regardless of what the other guys are doing, follow his lead. What you wear will broadcast a lot about yourself and your potential in the workplace, so always err on the side of professionalism.

Buy the right jeans. They should be clean, dark, and well fitting. Skip baggy styles, or a pair so long that the leg bottom gets scuffed in the back. (Ask a tailor to shorten the legs using “jeans hem stitching,” and no one will know they were altered.) Help keep the denim’s finish from fading by washing your jeans inside-out in cold water and always hanging them up to dry.

Put some thought into your footwear. Unless you work in a surf shop, no flip-flops or mandals of any kind should be worn to work. Exceptions do exist, however (see rule No. 1). If the higher-ups are wearing sneakers, funky socks or going completely sockless, you’re welcome to follow suit. If you choose casual kicks, pick something clean and simple—like a low-cut, leather cross-trainer with minimal branding—and stick to low-key colors. If that means buying a pair specifically for the workplace, so be it.

Don’t get sloppy on top. Choose shirts that fit well and are wrinkle- and stain-free. Signs of wear and tear (like missing or broken buttons) are not okay. As with your shoes, reserve attention-grabbing colors and logos for when you’re off the clock.

When in doubt, go classic. A crisp, cotton button-down shirt will never fail you. And if you’re going to wear a white one, make sure it’s really white by washing with a fresh smelling laundry detergent. Pair your button-down shirt with neat, dark jeans or straight-cut chinos and neutral lace-up bucks or loafers. You’ll feel like a million bucks—and look like it, too.