In the United States, there is a large portion of the population that has white-collar jobs where the dress code is formal. A great many Americans, as a result, have to wear suits at work if they are men, and suits or equally formal blouses and skirts if they are women. Companies and organizations, by setting these dress standards, want to ensure that their representatives make a good impression on customers and business partners, and little deviation from the elevated norm is accepted — unless it is Friday.
Relaxed yet professional
On Fridays, to relax a bit before the weekend starts, office workers in many workplaces are allowed to dress down a little. Therefore, on Fridays, people in white-collar jobs may change their work attire from dark colors to bright colors, from suit pants to jeans or from jackets to plain sweaters. However, despite it being the last day of the work week, you are expected to avoid showing too much cleavage, have ripped jeans or wear a big logo on your sweater when on the job. This is because Casual Friday, regardless of what the word casual otherwise might mean, is about dressing relaxed yet professionally.
Getting it wrong
Dressing relaxed yet professionally, as straight-forward as it may seem to people with considerable work experience, could present a challenge for new recruits or people who are simply out of touch. As a consequence, some people aim too low when they try to adapt to the Casual Friday dress norm, leading to situations where staffers in Hawaiian shirts or other inappropriate clothing stick out like sore thumbs at formal business meetings. This type of misunderstanding, which often elicits laughter and some friendly teasing by co-workers, prompt most underdressed people to realize their blunder and change their style quickly.