Definition of casual clothing

Updated March 18, 2017

Casual dress, or informal clothing, is the opposite of what you would wear to a formal gathering. The term "casual clothing" can be used to describe a variety of clothing styles. For example, casual clothes worn in the home are different from "business casual," or casual clothes worn to the office.


You should remember to keep it sophisticated when it comes to dressing casually, particularly in an office environment, notes Sue Fox, author of "Etiquette for Dummies." In addition to fabrics and styles, colours have an impact on casual clothing choices. "Dark colours convey authority; bright colours convey friendliness. Light colours such as taupe and khaki are generally more casual than black, grey or navy," Fox writes.

Casual Fridays

Many businesses have incorporated "casual Fridays" into their workweeks. While not all casual attire is acceptable, office members typically are encouraged to wear jeans and leave their ties at home. Business casual is a more relaxed form of business dress, while still remaining professional. Each business has its own set of guidelines.

If your office has a casual Friday policy, play it safe and pair casual pieces with dressy ones. For example, if you wear jeans or khakis, match them with a nice shirt.

Among Friends

Casual dress codes beyond the boardroom typically apply to events or parties with friends and family. In this scenario, women can don dressy or plain shirts, paired with relaxed jeans and sandals. Men can wear polo shirts or T-shirts with khakis. Essentially, casual dress in your private life can be anything you want it to be within reason.

The way you dress is an outer reflection of your personality. Is it wrong to wear flip-flops to a casual dress dinner party? Only you can answer that by determining how comfortable you want to be and how you want the world to see you.


While many types of clothing styles fall under the category of casual, you should never wear clothes with holes, rips or stains. Clothing you would wear at home, in order to be comfortable, may not be in the same category as the casual clothing you should wear at work. If you have a casual Friday at your workplace, be sure to ask what the guidelines are. Flip-flops may be acceptable in one workplace but not in another.


While business casual attire used to be popular in American business culture, particularly in the 1990s, one report indicates casual Fridays are losing favour. "In 1998, 97 per cent of companies in a Society for Human Resource Management poll allowed staffers to dress casually once a week. By 2000, that number had shrunk to 87 per cent," writes Rabbi Daniel Lapin, author of "Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money."

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About the Author

Helena Cain began writing and editing professionally in 2002. Her work has been published in magazines such as "Better Living Magazine," "Playboy" and "Budget Living." She received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Cincinnati.