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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We're So Casual

My first job out of college was at a bank. The dress code was simple but strict. Men wore suits. Women wore dresses, hose, and heels. No exceptions. It was a bit of an effort for me at first but over time my wardrobe grew. I found myself purchasing more and more business attire to the point that I struggled to find casual clothes to wear away from work.

Things sure have changed in twenty years. I realize that lifestyle dictates much of your wardrobe. I now work from home. My son is in grade school so much of my non-professional time is spent volunteering at his school and at soccer practice or games. Today I find that I struggle when it is time to dress up. I don’t have nearly as many dresses or skirts for church, and I see that my son and I are typically overdressed compared to everyone else. My husband has even taken to wearing jeans to church. But things, especially at church, have become so casual that the first time we visited our church there was someone wearing workout shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops. My grandmother would have been appalled. And the truth is that I too am bothered by our ultra-casual look everywhere.

I remember when I started working for A Cleaner World in 1996, the term business casual was all the rage. I took to Google to find out just how it all got started. According to marketplace.org, in the 1960’s the Hawaiian garment industry was trying to sell more shirts and they came up with “Aloha Friday” where businesses were encouraged to let their employees wear Hawaiian shirts to the office one day a week. Fast forward to the 1990’s where that idea found its way east and companies began to offer casual Fridays as a perk. According to Wikipedia, casual Friday and casual all week became common during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in California-based businesses.

But the word casual can be interpreted in so many ways. So when I Googled the definition of casual, here’s what I got:

Adjective – relaxed and unconcerned

Noun – clothes or shoes suitable for everyday wear rather than formal occasions

As I looked online for how this all came about, I found that I’m not alone in feeling like we’ve become too casual. We are all taking the term casual and using the relaxed and unconcerned part way more than the everyday wear part.

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