As days get longer and temperatures soar, it’s time to adjust your office attire for the warmer season ahead. Your work wardrobe should keep you cool and comfortable in the heat of summer, but still allow you to maintain a professional look.
Here are 8 ways to balance comfort with style when the temperatures rise.
1. Check the Dress Code
Brush up on your company policy. This is especially important when you are in a new job and may not know the nuances of the corporate culture. You may also look to the wardrobe choices of senior executives for more clues. Knowing your employer’s dress code will help shape your fashion decisions. For example, hosiery and closed-toe shoes are still a requirement in some workplaces, while bare legs and sandals are perfectly acceptable options in others. Be aware of your company policy before investing in new closet staples.
2. Layer Your Outfit
Summer often means going from sauna-like weather outdoors to near-arctic conditions inside. The best way to handle a variety of temperatures is to opt for sleeveless or short sleeve tops, layered with a lightweight cardigan or suit jacket you can hang on the back of your office door. This tip will serve you well in all climates and also in the event of a last-minute client meeting. Throw on a jacket for an impromptu business lunch to step up your executive presence.
3. Start With the Season Staples
A sheath dress is a good choice that lends itself well to layering and accessorizing. Short-sleeve blouses, tees, light sweaters, lightweight trousers and skirts are additional alternatives to stay cool and maintain your expert status in the hot months ahead.
4. Know the Summer No-No’s
If it's appropriate for a backyard BBQ or pool party, it's not a good fit for the office. Items to reserve for off hours include flip-flops, shorts, anything resembling workout clothing and spaghetti straps. Also, while sunglasses are a must outdoors, take them off your head and store them away when you are inside.
5. Put Your Best Foot Forward
Women have many choices for office friendly footwear in the summertime. Follow this summer footwear guideline: if it’s plastic, rubber or slides between your toes, save it for home or the weekend. Just remember to schedule regular pedicures to keep your feet looking their best in styles that reveal your toes and heels. Pumps and peep toes are office dos.
6. Add a Bit of Color to Your Wardrobe
If your winter look is dominated by earthy tones and dark hues, infuse brighter shades during summer months. A fuchsia underpinning worn under a blazer or sweater will add a lively splash of color to your seasonal office wear. However, don’t go overboard with neon or flouncy, floral patterns which can detract from a sleek, polished appearance.
7. Stay Reasonably Covered Up
No matter what the weather is doing outside, avoid baring too much skin at the office. Make sure your skirts are at an appropriate length - close to the knees and no more than 2 inches above - and avoid tops that are cut too low. Clothes that expose your midriff, ride too low or are overly tight are not suitable for work. Also make sure bra straps are not visible under sleeveless tops.
8. Remember Appearance Counts Year-Round
Professionalism doesn’t take a break over the summer. Resist any temptation to loosen your standards with the heat. Do a quick inventory of your clothes and make sure they are in good shape, crisp and wrinkle-free. This means that linen, despite its breathability and comfort, is only appropriate outside of work because it wrinkles.
You may also like 5 Summer Office Attire Tips for Women. For more of Diane’s business attire tips, visit her blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life here.