When the weather heats up, it can be tempting to put aside business clothes in favor of cooler, more comfortable attire, but professional summer fashion is possible - you just need to know what's acceptable, even when the temperature spikes.
Basics of Professional Summer Fashion
Depending on your work environment, some dress code rules may be relaxed during the hottest months of the year. If you're lucky, your company will allow female employees to skip the pantyhose or will deem sleeveless tops acceptable. Still, working in a business setting calls for professional dress, even if you're dressed down. If you have any questions about what's appropriate during the summer, you should consult your company's dress code, ask your supervisor, or at least observe what your superiors are wearing.
Dress professionally in the summertime by following these tips:
- Wear closed-toe slingbacks: Your place of business may allow sandals or open-toed shoes, but if your workplace is more conservative, you can still get some fresh air to your feet by wearing slingback pumps. These are a good warm weather style shoe that work well in the office.
- Sport shifts: Sleeveless shift dresses will keep you cool, but can still convey a professional air with the addition of blazers or cardigans. You might need the extra covering when you're in an air-conditioned office. Shift dresses are easy to accessorize; add simple jewelry and pair with slingbacks.
- Carry along lightweight blazers: In case you still need to sport a blazer to the office, make sure it's made in a light material, such as cotton or linen. You can always slip the jacket off when you go to lunch or leave at the end of the day.
- Stick to lighter colors: You'll feel much cooler if you stick to light colors in the summer. White, off white, pastels and light neutrals not only look fresh and perfect for the season, but won't draw heat to you the way darker colors will. A white or cream pantsuit with simple gold or silver jewelry will look crisp and clean.
- Wear light materials: Linens, cottons, silks and seersucker are great fabrics to sport during the summer. You can find these easy materials in clothes suitable for the office, either in blouses, oxford shirts, slacks, skirts or simple dresses, in A-line shapes or even shirtdresses. Make sure your professional summer fashion comes across as office-appropriate by keeping your garments pressed; although linen is expected to wrinkle, you should still have it dry cleaned or ironed before wearing.
- Keep your outfits simple: To stay cool, try to keep your outfits as simple and easy as possible. This isn't a time to think about layers. Instead, choose a pair of linen slacks, top with a cotton or linen shirt, add a fashionable belt and slingbacks, and you're done. If you have to wear a blazer, carry it along and slip into it right before you head into the office.
- Sheer pantyhose: There are pantyhose available that are so sheer, they can almost feel as if you're not wearing them. Summer is a good time to shop for the sheerest hose you can find, if your office dress code requires them.
- Skip pantyhose the right way: If you're not required to wear stockings during the summer, you should still make an effort to keep your bare legs office-acceptable. Self-tanner can help keep your skin tone even, mimicking the look of stockings.
Avoid These Looks
Even though it's summer, professional attire is still very different from casual attire. No matter how hot it gets outside, these looks are still considered inappropriate business attire for females:
- Halter tops
- Spaghetti straps
- Micro mini skirts
- Midriff tops
- Flip flops
Keep Your Professional Cool
Though summer can be unbearably hot and sticky, continue to follow your office's dress code policy to maintain a businesslike air. There are ways to stay cool, while still coming across as professional and stylish, even during the hottest days of the year.