Posted by Brian McCullough
From the WSJ.
If you work in a corporate environment, it’s just as important to get business casual right as it is to nail traditional business dress. Maybe more important: Savvy corporate politicians know that casual days are the times when their appearance will be most closely watched.
“People actually judge more on those days because they assume they’re seeing the real person,” says Jonscott Turco, a New York psychologist and human resource-consultant.
Traditional business dress is seen as a uniform; it does for the office what uniforms do for prep schools. It simplifies decision-making and makes hierarchies easy to read. We all want to identify the upperclassmen when we step into the elevator.
When the uniform is put aside, people feel free to set aside the power signals and express their style sense. But they often fail to recognize that, just as in high school, they’re still being judged. It’s human nature to respond to visual cues. Bell-bottomed pants may be back, says Ms. Kan, but “the best dressers resist the urge to wear them, because clients balk when you show up looking like Charo.”
Creative expression aside, there are few upsides to the business-casual trend for workers. Think it saves money on expensive suits? If only. Since different offices interpret it differently, moving from company to company can mean acquiring a new business-casual wardrobe at each career stop.