Casual Friday can be the most difficult day of the week to get dressed. Every other day of the week, you know exactly what you’re going to wear. In fact, you probably have it down to a scientific formula: choose a suit, select a shirt, add a tie. But the rules bend on dressed-down Fridays, and it’s often difficult to figure out exactly what you should wear when your head’s in weekend mode but you have to get dressed and into the office for another shift before it’s officially the end of the week.
Fortunately, there’s an easier way to look casual but sharp on casual Fridays — one that doesn’t necessitate 15-minute debates in front of your closet in the morning. In fact, mastering Casual Friday dressing can be boiled down to a formula as simple as the one you follow every other day of the week. Our foolproof formula for a stylish Casual Friday ensemble? A great pair of chinos, a favorite blazer, and an interesting shirt. Read on to find out exactly how to choose and combine those elements for a foolproof outfit.
You probably wear a suit jacket every day of the week. On Fridays, you have the opportunity to divorce the jacket from its matching pants — or choose a jacket that doesn’t have an exact match in the trouser section of your closet. A classic choice for a casual Friday outfit is the navy blazer, which you probably already own as part of a versatile suit. A navy blazer, like Sandro’s notched lapel suit jacket, looks great with a pair of tan chinos (more on those in a second), or an equally-versatile gray blazer, like this sportcoat from Theory, pairs perfectly with navy blue chinos. Alternately, if you favor more unusual color ways, consider a green blazer, like Brooks Brothers’ olive green twill jacket, or even one that’s heavier on texture with a tweed, wool herringbone, or melange flannel like the one used to construct Hardy Amies’ flannel sportcoat.
A stock of well-fitting chinos is a must for any guy, so if you don’t own a pair (or two) you love, now is the perfect time to remedy the situation. With a pair of chinos, fit is paramount. Go to a retailer that offers several different cuts and styles and try on a number of different pairs to determine what will work best for you. Brooks Brothers, for instance, offers its twill chinos in several different cuts, and its Red Fleece chinos in a slim cut and a wide array of colors, and Ralph Lauren offers slim-fit, straight-fit, and even relaxed-fit chinos for guys of every body type.
Once you’ve found your cut, consider color. Tan chinos, particularly in a darker rather than lighter shade, are a versatile option that should have a place in every man’s wardrobe. Navy blue chinos are another staple that you’ll never regret investing in. Other classic options include dark green, like Club Monaco’s cotton chinos, black like J. Crew’s version, or an even gray like NN.07’s chinos.
We have an entire primer on how to choose the best shirt for Casual Friday. But if you’re a little pressed for time, here’s the gist of it: The shirt is where you get to have fun with your outfits on Friday. Opt for a new pattern or texture and experiment with color when shopping for shirting. And, as always, prioritize fit and simple, comfortable fabrics that won’t wrinkle as soon as you sit down at your desk.
Some fun choices include Club Monaco’s maple leaf-printed shirt, NN.07’s deep blue oxford shirt, Ralph Lauren’s classic chambray shirt, or Beams Plus’s checked shirt. Choose a tie, or opt to go without, based on what’s appropriate in your workplace. (If you aren’t sure of just how many liberties you can take when getting dressed on Friday mornings, just pay attention to what your boss wears on Casual Fridays.) If you’ve chosen a solid shirt, you can try a patterned tie. Or, if your shirt sports a pattern, go with a solid tie.