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The Office Workers Left Behind by the Casual Dress Revolution

What happens when a business casual holdout lets employees wear jeans?
Photographer: Getty Images

Just before Thanksgiving, Chicago-based accounting firm Crowe Horwath put out a video instructing employees on what to wear and what not to. In it, company executives are wearing bad outfits that land them on the company's dress code "Most Wanted List." Violators stand in a mock police lineup in ripped jeans and wrinkled shirts. The video ends with Chief Executive Officer Jim Powers demonstrating shorts that are "too casual for the office," a "C-E-No." It's exactly as cheesy as it sounds.

The video was an introduction to Crowe's new "Dress for your Day" policy, a daily extension of a casual Friday experiment that started a few months earlier. The video was a lighthearted, albeit nerdy attempt to emphasize that some outfits are still too casual for work. No hoodies, gym shoes, or leggings, for example. "Just look in the mirror before you walk out the door, and make sure you look appropriate," said Wendy Cama, office managing partner at Crowe. "You don't look like you're going out to the bars. You're going to work."