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April 15, 2019

Looking Professional In a Casual World

Peggie Najim headshotby Peggie Najim, The Carolina School of Etiquette

Living in the “laid back” world at the beach, looking professional in the workplace can be a challenge.  However, there is never an excuse to look unprofessional. Within a few seconds when we first meet someone, we begin to form an opinion – it’s human nature. So, no matter your occupation, when someone forms that opinion about you, make it a good one.   

We all know about “Casual Friday”, but have you noticed that Casual Friday, many times, has turned into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday? Casual dress in the beach area should not be the same as Professional Casual Dress. There is a difference and it’s certainly possible to look both professional and casual.  It just takes is a little planning. 

The mere mention of the word beach and you automatically think casual. However, casual dress in the workplace does not mean, that what you might wear to the gym or lounging around the house, should be worn to work.  

As simple as Casual Friday sounds, over the years it has created a lot of confusion. This confusion began in California in the 1980s, as members of the corporate world started shedding neckties that were too tight! This was followed suit, no pun intended, by bright, young entrepreneurs, who would eventually reshape our world. As they worked in their garages, inventing and building computers, their uniform of choice then was sloppy T-shirts and shorts, and yes, probably flip-flops. That uniform is still visible in our world today.  In fact, there are times when it seems to take over. 

Personally, and after having moved here several years ago from the Charlotte area, I still find it interesting when a “professional” in his or her work environment is dressed in an “unprofessional” manner. The adage, “When you look good, you feel good” never goes out of style, and generally when you feel good, you do a better job. If your company does not have a Dress Code, I strongly suggest one.  It can answer a lot of questions and cut down on confusion. When there are no rules, people tend to create their own and usually they are not the best choices. 

The types of businesses in the Grand Strand usually fall into the following categories: Real Estate, Banking, Law, Restaurant, Health Care, Sales, Retail and Hotel. Below are what we consider the best wardrobe choices:  

BUSINESS – Conservative (Law, Banking) – Two piece suits, dresses with sleeves, jackets, skirts, slacks, blouses, camisoles, sweaters, pumps, minimum jewelry 

BUSINESS CASUAL – (Real Estate, Hotel, Restaurant, Health Care, Sales, Retail) – Slacks, jackets, blouses, skirts,  dresses, camisoles, sweaters, pumps, open-toe shoes, jewelry 

CASUAL RESORT – (Hotel, Hospitality) – Slacks, sweaters, camisoles, sandals, jeans, shorts, sundresses, leggings, “trendy” garments, jewelry 

(A word about jeans, handbags and shoes) – Jeans have become almost a main staple in our wardrobes today. Even the most casual pair can be made to look fashionable and attractive with a good choice of accessories and jewelry. Be sure they fit well and are not distressed. However, make sure your company approves. Handbags and shoes have been a huge part of the fashion scene for several seasons now. They can add so much to an outfit, making it look polished, pulled together and sophisticated. 


Dress for the job you want and dress for the environment you are in.

“Dressing for Success” is still important; it just comes with added comfort these days. 

Lastly – Just because its “in,” doesn’t always mean “you” should be in it. 

Want to learn more? Sign up for “Style is Not a Dress Size” on May 2 from 12-1 p.m. at MBACC. In this free lunch seminar, Peggie Najim will give you helpful tips on building a workable wardrobe with an emphasis on looking professional in a casual beach environment.

About The Carolina School of Etiquette-Image Concepts
The Carolina School of Etiquette-Image Concepts will assist you in achieving a polished, professional image and building a basic, workable wardrobe. From head to toe, our “tried and true” tips will make it easy for you. By conducting an In-Home Closet Audit, Figure Analysis and Fun Shopping Excursion, we will provide expert and experienced fashion assistance. Give us a call today and let’s get started. Peggie Najim, stylist, 843-237-1133.

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