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How to Dress For Casual Fridays

June 28, 2019 | Filed in: Your Closet

If getting dressed for Casual Fridays feels like style haiku, you’re not alone. You’ve got your workwear, you’ve got your exercise gear, and then you’ve got what can only be described as a bunch of pieces from the Land of Misfit Clothes. That’s what has a lot of women standing in front of their closets lamenting #wtf instead of #tgif. How to find that perfect blend of refined yet relaxed? It takes a rethink of what you already own, some creativity, and possibly a little bit of shopping. We’re here to help: Here are five guidelines for creating your Casual Friday ensemble, with modeling by members of the M.M. team.

1. Mix It Up.

Jen wears the Gwen dress and the Blake top.

You’ve likely mastered Professional You, thanks to a dependable arsenal of sheaths, slacks, blazers, and the like. Our advice? Break up those sets and pair more serious pieces with some of your weekend staples. Don’t be afraid to combine dressy fabrics with casual ones, like topping khakis with a silk blouse. The unexpected mix is interesting. Word to the wise: If your Friday might throw you a surprise client meeting or video conference call, put the polish up top, since that’s the part of you that will be most visible. Bonus tip: If you wear suiting as separates, be sure to send the pieces to the dry cleaner at the same time so that they fade and wear evenly.

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2. Bring On The Accessories.

Christine wears the Nichols shirt.

Your look is relaxed, but that doesn’t mean you should ditch the details. On the contrary: Accessorizing ensures that even the most dressed-down approach looks complete, and it’s also a great way to add color or texture. Finishing touches matter: a scarf, an armload of bracelets here, or a tote in a bold color takes a casual look up from running errands on the weekend to running a meeting at work.

3. Shop your closet.

Courtney wears the Astrid top, the Chester pant, and the Grace loafer.

Look at your closet with fresh eyes. Think of every piece you own as a separate—not as suits or outfits—and challenge yourself to create pairings you’ve never worn before. Your workhorse navy slacks? Ditch the coordinating blazer and instead try them with a sweater and sneakers. Now pull out that cotton dress you save for vacations and pair it with the navy blazer. Turn a discerning eye to your weekend wardrobe and cherry pick those pieces that could make a show at the office—you’re looking for what fits, flatters, looks fresh, and will pair comfortably with tailored work clothes. Embrace knits! Sweaters are a great (less formal) alternative to blouses or button-ups, and they perfectly bridge the work/weekend divide. Pro tip: Spend a Sunday afternoon trying new outfit combinations, take selfies of what works and create a folder of images on your phone. That way when Friday rolls around you can scroll the folder instead of panicking. 

4. Need it? Buy it.

Nadia wears the Imogen jacket, the Sheela top, and the Hockley pant.

You might need to add a few pieces to your wardrobe in order to pull off Casual Fridays with regularity. Perhaps you just have a gaping hole in your casual wardrobe, or maybe you have casual clothes but they haven’t been refreshed in a while. In any case, there are pieces we like to call casual Friday classics, which are inherently versatile and timeless. What to put on your shopping list? Well-tailored jeans, a blazer in a non-traditional fabric (like linen for summer), loafers in a kicky color, a floral dress, “good” T-shirts (solid colors or stripes, sturdy fabric), and a fitted leather jacket (spend as much as you can, you’ll have this forever).

5. Avoid the S’s: Sexy and Sloppy. 

No matter where you work, any clothing that could legitimately be considered cocktail appropriate has no place at the office. We’re talking about beading and lace of any kind, as well as anything that’s too short, too tight, or too plunging, whether it’s black or another color (the lingerie trend is especially hot right now, like slip dresses and camisoles—great on date night, not so great for clocking in). Sloppy is just as bad and includes college sweatshirts, concert tees, items that are torn or overly distressed, anything you wouldn’t worry about while cleaning out the garage, and any shoe you’d wear comfortably at the beach.

Ready to build your Casual Friday wardrobe? Shop M.M. Casual here.

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Susan Swimmer is a former magazine editor (Seventeen, Marie Claire) and television commentator ("The Today Show") and has spent 20+ years talking to women about fashion. She is now the Founder and Creative Director of Evie Marques, a line of bold, brightly colored, beaded necklaces. You can find her on Instagram at @Evie Marques. Read more of Susan's posts.

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