Plum - Casual Fridays are All But Dead!



Casual Fridays are All But Dead!

Monday Oct. 17 2011


Plum is very interested in what the trends are for workplace dressing.  “We have noticed a trend towards jackets.  It started with the ‘boyfriend’ jacket and is moving to other more ‘form-fitting’ designs,” says Kate O’Brien, Plum co-owner and merchandiser. 

Plum did an extensive customer survey last spring and not surprisingly found that 92% of those surveyed say workplace dressing has become very casual.

“We were particularly interested in Casual Fridays,” says Des Roches, co-owner of Plum.  2,600 women from Vancouver and the lower mainland, Kelowna and Calgary responded to the survey.

“The response was overwhelming!  Customers have a lot to say,” says des Roches.  “Most customers like the idea that Friday is a casual day at work but many think dressing down on Friday is unnecessary, often unprofessional and even slovenly.”

Some Customer comments:

  • A lot of people are going beyond the "casual Friday" to "casual week”
  • “Cargo pants and ill-fitting clothing is now considered "normal!"
  • “Casual Friday has turned into t shirts and any pair of jeans. When I first started working, casual Friday just meant business casual, so in case clients or customers came by, the company still had a professional image.”
  • “For example, some of my coworkers will wear casual washed jeans, a t-shirt, a hoodie and runners. During warmer months, some will even wear flip flops, which I think is not only unprofessional, but also unsafe.”
  • “Gone are the days where "dress up" is mandatory. Today, it is all about comfort while working long hours. Skirts, dresses, even dress pants have been replaced with day to day clothing.”
  • “I have frequently seen teachers wearing yoga wear...and they do not teach PE. Teachers in general are leaning towards overly casual, unprofessional-looking clothing.”
  • “I have seen exposed midriffs in the summer - very unprofessional I feel showing cleavage is also unprofessional at work.”
  • “From the Manager, right down to the administration tacky jeans, sweatshirts and T-shirts are even tolerated. Our dress code which is pretty specific is totally ignored by most.”
  • “I work from home so pajamas can be my most casual outfit! When I head out, I like to wear clothes that reflect a business attitude. No jeans. No cleavage. No armpits showing.”


A surprising result is that 50% of Plum’s customer survey respondents actually have (and practice to varying degrees) Casual Fridays.

Most surprising of all is of those that have Casual Fridays only 9% of employers have a clear Casual Friday policy! 41% have a minimal or fuzzy policy; and 36% have no policy at all!  “There is little doubt why we have such downward slippage when dressing for work,” says des Roches. “Employers need to be clear about their expectations.”

A large number of respondents feel that jeans are acceptable for Casual Fridays but feel that they should be ‘dark’ and ‘fashionable.’  Fitness and yoga wear are generally viewed as extreme faux-pas and along with flop-flops, criticized as being un-professional.

“It is surprising to us that in this economy more women are not paying more attention to what they are wearing to work given how important it is,” say des Roches. “Our 2007 survey showed that 56% agreed that people were more likely to get a promotion if they dress in current fashions.”  An overwhelming 91% agree that, ‘What I wear to work has an effect on my confidence and performance.’ (See enclosed results)

Plum was curious about going out after work on Fridays so asked the following questions:

1. “Do you and/or your fellow workers go out directly from work on Fridays?” 
a. We found that 68% often or sometimes go out from work on Fridays and only 32% never did. 

2. “Do you dress differently if you are going out after work?” 
a. 56% of respondents said yes.

“There is an incredible opportunity here,” says O’Brien.  “Perhaps we should change the Casual Fridays to ‘Going Out’ Fridays and dress up for Friday instead of dressing down!”   

“It would be something to look forward to at the end of a busy work week!” she says.

Contact information for survey results:  Ed des Roches
Contact information for fashion comments:  Katie O’Brien

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