Office Style in the Triple Digits

Don’t let professionalism take a back seat in the summer heat

Back Web Only Aug 12, 2015 By Kachet Jackson-Henderson

Trying to dress professionally in the blistering heat is a very real predicament. With air conditioning inside and blazing temperatures outside, you must dress smart: Smart layering and smart color choices are going to get you through the rest of summer.

Various industries allow for different kinds of dress codes, and the creative fields have the most leeway. But, even with a more relaxed expectation, there’s always that one person in the office who pushes the summer dress button a bit too hard. Instead of thinking less fabric, think lighter shades. Creme, mauve, greys and even colors like cantaloupe, green and blue all reflect the light of the sun, keeping you cooler when you step out for lunch or a meeting.

Ladies, a simple solution for the summer months is the dress. The most appropriate styles for the office are sheath, swing, and fit and flare. But depending on your personal taste, wearing dresses every day for the rest of summer may not be practical. The hot-for-the-season short suit is also a nice alternative, as long as the shorts are long. When coordinating separates, balance is the key. If you’re going to wear your legs out in a skirt, you’ll want to pair the skirt with a blouse that has sleeves. Considering wearing pants? A sleeveless top will do the trick, but always have a cardigan or blazer handy for meetings.

While the ladies do have it easier, gents have options, too. More casual blazers and pants will save you over the next several weeks. Materials like khaki, linen and even seersucker allow for more breathability than your traditional office garb. On a day when you’re not seeing clients or partners, consider wearing a nice polo or tee under your suit instead of the traditional button up. It’s still polished, yet you’re allowing some airflow to keep you cool.

If you’re constantly questioning whether certain outfits are office appropriate, they probably aren’t.. Flip flops and casual sandals are never appropriate in an office setting, and going back to our school days, neither are spaghetti strap tank tops, halters, tube tops, casual shorts or skirts that don’t reach your fingers. Don’t be the talk of the office by violating those rules. Consult your supervisor or the HR department for clarification, and if you really love an article of clothing but are having doubts, consider bringing a picture of what you have in mind to start the conversation. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.


CJ (not verified)August 30, 2015 - 7:49pm

sometimes it's nice to have a guide like this. By helping to draw the perverbial line, you actually expanded my work options. Thanks!