Seams Plausible: The Origins Of Business Casual



A semi-regular column answering
questions about clothing.

Reader Ben J. writes in to ask, “What does the term ‘business casual’ mean today?”

Loosely defined, “Business Casual” means dressing for work like you rolled out of bed, grabbed a pop-tart and jumped into your carpool’s open door as they drove past your house.

The whole thing was accidentally invented by a guy named “Jim” one Friday morning in the 1970’s. Seems that he had “fallen asleep” after “going out” Thursday night with some “friends from work.” Next morning, some of those friends noticed Jim was wearing the same clothes he had on the night before (jeans and polo shirt).  After giving Jim a little “good natured ribbing,” they thought this was a great idea (not “wearing the same clothes two days in a row” but “dressing more casually”) and wondered, “Why don’t we all dress casually every Friday?”

So they did. When they were asked what was going on, they told everyone that the workplace was “friendlier” when people could dress the same way for work that they did at home. People felt more comfortable, so more work would get done. Productivity would soar. And then everyone could spend more time at home, where they could dress just like they did for work.

Casual Friday was born – and in some offices, soon spread to include all the other workdays. And here’s the best part of it all: turns out they were right!

Ever since casual dressing has caught on, productivity has soared, companies are prospering like never before and everyone is spending more time at home with their families. All thanks to a guy named “Jim.”

There ought to be a statue.

You’re welcome.

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