Today most of us go to work dressed professionally, and certainly more comfortable than those who might’ve been working 40 years ago. But, how did we go from strictly suits, ties and dresses in the workplace to the business casual attire we all know today? Better yet, how did the modern office come to adopt the idea of casual Fridays?
In 1962, The Hawaiian Fashion Guild was on a mission to make the Hawaiian shirt acceptable in the office, at least on Fridays. The argument was that, because of the hot climate, this would be a more comfortable option for employees. In an effort to increase the Hawaiian garment industry and help the economy, they even encouraged the local government to adopt the idea of “Aloha Friday”. By the late 1960s, thanks to toned down patterns and colors, Hawaiian shirts were becoming acceptable every day of the week.
In the early 1990s, the mainland started to catch on to the idea. There was a small recession and many companies wanted inexpensive ways to offer more benefits to employees and raise company morale. In a short amount of time, many companies across the United States began adopting the idea and “Casual Friday” was born. While some did not necessarily want employees coming to work in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, they were struggling to define this casual dress code.
In 1992, Levi’s recognized this challenge and saw an opportunity to help define “Casual Friday” while marketing their own clothing. They created a campaign and a brochure called “A Guide to Casual Business”. This brochure was sent all across the United States and included images of the all infamous Dockers. Since their campaign, Dockers have become a staple of many business casual wardrobes, as well as other styles from the Levi’s brand.
Present day, most companies have adopted business casual as an everyday dress code to boost morale, allowing employees to feel more comfortable in the workplace while still looking professional.
Here at HON, we’ve transformed our “Casual Fridays” into an opportunity to give back to the community. Our members vote on their favorite charities and donate money to wear jeans on the last day of the week. How do you define a “business casual dress code” in your workplace?