Summertime is when we tend to show a little more skin. On those days when the heat is oppressive, wearing very little is tempting. However if you work in a professional office setting, wearing next to nothing is not an option. Let's go from top to bottom with some ideas that will keep you cool and professional during the summer.
Best Tops for Summer
It is very tempting to break out the tank tops, spaghetti-strap tops, strapless, and halter tops. These items have no place at the professional office, even if your dress code is business casual. But there are tops that you wear to stay cool at the office:
- Sleeveless Shells: A shell blouse tends be lighter and comes with a modest neckline that exposes the top portion of the chest without showing cleavage. You can get one with a gentle draped neckline, boat neck, or modest v-neckline. Just make sure the fabric is one that allows your skin to breath. Think natural plant fibers like cotton and flax (linen).
- Vests: Vests that button up over the breasts can be worn without the need for a shirt underneath during the summer.
- Cap sleeve shirts: If your office has a policy against wearing sleeveless tops, then a cap sleeve top is the next best bet. Don't get one that looks like a T-shirt, as it will be too casual for the workplace.
Best Dress and Skirt Styles
There are so many cute summer dresses and skirts out there. You may be tempted to wear these to the office. Think again. It is best to keep it simple with structure and let the details -- color and print -- provide style. When it comes to dresses stick with the shirt dress, sleeveless sheath, and sleeveless shift. For skirts, stick with straight skirts and skirts with a modest flare. Maxi skirts and dresses can be worn, just make sure the style isn't too casual.
Keep hem height at a modest level. If your hem is higher than two-inches, it is too high for work. In lieu of taking a ruler and measuring, use the thumb rule. Place the tip of your thumb at the top edge of your knee and lay it against your thigh. If your hem lands past your knuckle, your skirt may be too high (if in doubt, then go find a ruler).
Best Bottoms for Your Bottom at Work
Who wears short, shorts? At the office, it had better not be you. Some companies are lenient and will allow shorts that come down to the knees. As far as pants go, lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen are your best bets. You can beat the heat with cropped pants and capris. Be careful when wearing white pants made from lightweight fabric. They tend to be semi-sheer and will show any dark colored or printed underwear.
Wearing Colors and Prints
Summer may be the time for bold, bright colors. However, those bold, brights can be distracting at the office. The same goes for optical and graphic prints. You can still wear vibrant color without being loud. Shades like soft melon, peach, coral, mint, sage, lavender, pale yellow, and other soft pastels are office-friendly. Wearing color and prints is great for everyday. However, when it comes to meetings with management and interviews, it is best to stick with dark colors like black, charcoal, and dark navy.
So you don't have to suffer at the office during the summer. Just make sure hemlines aren't too short, you aren't baring cleavage, stomach, butt, and thigh. Wear colors that aren't too attention grabbing. If you need some visual ideas of what can work, check out the video below.
I originally published to my former Examiner.com column. Old url: http://www.examiner.com/article/dressing-for-success-what-to-wear-to-work-during-summer