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Hey, moms: Have you taken casual dress too far?

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Dress for the occasion

Casual Friday revolutionized the working world a couple decades ago. Finally, someone realized you didn't have to buttoned up SO tight to do your job and the movement spread. Soon every day was "casual" day in many companies. Most offices, even "formal" ones, are far less casual now than they once were - and what were already casual environments (home, school) have become even more so. But is it possible that casual culture has gone too far? And will the pendulum ever swing back the other way? Just because you can wear what looks like pajamas out of the house doesn't mean you should.

Dress for the occasionWhile the old days of dresses all the time with nylons and gloves are long gone (and good riddance on those gloves and control tops!), there's no excuse for sloppy dressing. While kids, and particularly teenagers, use the clothing they wear to express themselves and their social place (and should be allowed a certain amount of that expression), we as adults should be taking a bit more care in leading by example about what is appropriate to wear out of the house, and what is not.

Reasons for (some) refinement

Your mother's admonition to always wear clean underwear may sound trite and old, but there was a reason behind it: you just never know what is going to happen. And just because the other admonition to not judge a book by it's cover is also valid, people do make snap decisions based on appearance.

This does not mean you can never go out in a fully coordinated outfit with full makeup and a blow out - some days jeans and an oversized sweatshirt ARE all you can manage! But if the local newspaper were to stop you on the way in to the grocery store and ask to take a picture of you, would you be aghast? If someone shot a paparazzi like photo of you in the pick-up line, would you like what you see? We're all tired, but it takes so little effort to put on a clean sweater and pull your hair back into a clean ponytail.

Consider also where you will be. A parent-teacher conference or having coffee with a friend - or even out for a quick bit to eat with your sweetie. Are you dressed appropriately? And what example is this setting for your kids about appropriate attire for different settings?

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Attire can affect attitude

How we dress can also affect our attitudes toward just about everything. When we take the time to be even a little bit conscious about how we appear, that tend to translate to the rest of our presentation as well. It's harder to slouch when we look nice! It is!

Again, this is also an important example for our kids - and especially those teenagers. The message that certain attire is or is not appropriate for certain situations is important. What one wears to the gym is not appropriate for church, and what one wears to school is not necessarily appropriate for going to Grandma's house or a restaurant. We send messages about ourselves to others by how we dress, like it or not.

Need a fashion makeover? Who doesn't? Get more fashion tips below:

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