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Has casual dressing gone too far?


'Dressing down' at work is a popular inducement when recruiting and retaining staff. But a growing number of employees are taking dress-down Friday a bit too literally, according to a recent survey of executives.

While the majority (55%) of those polled said they feel employees dress appropriately on relaxed attire days, 39% of managers believe workers appear too casual.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, a staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, "How would you describe the appearance of most employees on casual dress days?" Their responses:

Much too casual 5%
Somewhat too casual 34%
Appropriate 55%
Somewhat too formal 1%
Much too formal 1%
Don't know/no answer 4%

“The operative word in 'business casual' is business — what you wear has an impact on how you're perceived at work and continues to play a role in career advancement," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps.

Messmer said that while being neat and well-groomed is essential, dressing casually, but professionally, doesn't have to involve splurging on expensive designer clothing. He offers the following tips:

Observe what managers at your firm are wearing and follow their example. The maxim, "Dress for the position you would like to achieve," still holds true.

Know your industry. Some fields, such as finance and law,
are traditionally more conservative and may call for more
conventional business attire.

Be attuned to your company's culture. Clothing that is
perfectly suitable for one employer might be too casual for

When in doubt, err on the conservative side, particularly if
your job involves meeting with clients regularly.

Always keep a jacket or blazer on hand in case you are called into a meeting unexpectedly.


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