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Office-Approved Summer Fashion Guide


July sunshine and temperatures have their benefits, but transitioning from the melting outdoors into your air-conditioned office space begs the question: what do you wear? Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer through wearing a suit in the sweltering heat just to maintain your office dress policy. You have options. The following is a quick guide to some summer fashion do’s and don’ts that can help you succeed in your summer office style.

Summer Office Do’s

Let’s begin with some fashion “do’s”: The shirtdress. Have you tried one on? I’m obsessed, and so excited that these are popular right now. There are multiple versions, but two of the most standard are denim and chambray.

Denim is pretty self-explanatory, and chambray is just a fancy way to describe a lightweight cloth, silk, or linen. Most resemble a standard Oxford shirt. The crisp collar and long sleeves are perfect for the office, while the skirt keeps your legs cool. Accessorize this dress with a brown basket-weave belt and a big chunky necklace, and you’re ready to face the day.

Try spicing up your summer wardrobe with a standard shift dress.

A shift dress is designed to be loose-fitting and falls just above the knee or lower thigh. The A-line cut makes this style perfect for any body type, and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. An added bonus is that, by design, it can be unadorned, making it an easy, no-extra-layer choice for those hot workdays. So do yourself a favor, put this dress on and go!

Cardigans are the air-conditioning savior.

One really can’t have too many of these in her closet arsenal. Keep these on rotation (or leave one hanging on your desk chair), and you can easily transition from hot to cold in seconds. White, gray, and black are mandatory staples, but summer begs for bright and flirty colors. Lots of stores offer a rainbow of hues, and a cheerful cardigan is certainly a summertime “do.”

I love a good sundress, and they are perfect go-to’s for the summer months.

But not all sundresses are work-appropriate. Spaghetti-strap or strapless options are a definite no. Also, extremely loud and tropical prints are best saved for the annual family picnic or vacation. Fortunately, there are still a variety of classic styles that come with full skirts, short jackets, and lightweight materials that can really be worn from the curb to your cubicle.

Beware These Options

When it’s hot, sometimes the humidity can cloud our judgment about balancing what’s appropriate with just trying to stay cool. Regardless, it’s still important to keep the wardrobe basics top-of-mind. First, remain mindful of the cut of your shirt. No matter what the weather, it’s never appropriate to wear low-cut blouses, extreme V-necks, or large scooping necklines in the workplace. Exposing any part of your chest is inappropriate and distracting to everyone in your office.

Also, if the First Lady has taught us anything, it’s that you can totally rock a sleeveless shirt or dress. Strong, toned arms are definitely something one can show off—but large, gaping holes around your arms are not. Ensure that your sleeveless shirts and blouses are well-fitted. If you must, get your shirts tailored, raising the shoulders so that people can’t see directly through the sleeve.

Also mind your hemline. A short skirt may make you feel cooler, but it won’t gain you any votes for office popularity. An appropriate skirt length is generally four inches above the knee. Anything shorter, save for a date or the weekend.

The hotter it gets, the lighter material one will gravitate to. No matter the hue (i.e., charcoal or black), see-through is see-through, and should not be worn in the office. If you do choose to wear this kind of material, wear a camisole or undershirt beneath.

The last part of my fashion “don’t” rant is flip-flops. Unless your office environment has a very casual dress policy, these are never appropriate and should not be worn inside. Luckily, there are so many cute shoe options that you can really play to your personality simply by what you put on your feet! Try a peep-toe flat or heel, a cloth slide, or even a wedge. Your feet will be cool and so will your style.

Your summertime professional attire do’s and don’ts can be summed up in three simple words: use common sense. You certainly need to take care of yourself during this hot season, but with a few practical clothing pieces and creative thought, you can be successful both out in the sweltering sun and in your work environment.