Summer has once again crept up on us with a speed we didn’t anticipate – even though the winter felt as long as three… Now that the clocks have shifted and the days are getting longer and warmer, we’re once again forced to reckon with the truth of a summer in the workplace: stuffy days, fights over the air conditioning, broken air conditioning, and all the discomfort that comes with it. But how can you appropriately dress for a summer at work? 

The Dos

DO Recognise How Short is ‘Too Short’

In order to preserve a professional outlook, you should make sure you’re paying attention to the length of your garments; even in warm weather, there is such a thing as ‘too short’. Women’s skirts can be mid-length and still suitable for summer wear, and summer maxi dresses can remain a breezy alternative in the warm weather.

While much of the ‘debate’ surrounds skirt hems, the same issues arise with traditionally male garments. Shorts should not be significantly high above the knee, and should instead at least meet the knee where possible.

DO Take Advantage of Light Colours

Professional clothing can often feel stuffy as a rule – but addressing your colour scheme can have a huge impact on your comfort while retaining a smart, chic look. Specifically, embracing lighter colours can increase the reflectiveness of your clothes, and keep you cooler for longer. Try natural off-white linens, whites and even salmon-pinks.

DO Layer Smart

You can control your heat levels both professionally and fashionably by layering up in a clever way. Wearing a simple short-sleeved shirt beneath a light, flowy oversize blazer ensures you aren’t stacking layers of material on your skin, and you keep the option to remove a layer if the day gets hotter.

The Don’ts

DON’T Fall into Casual Territory

There is unfortunately a significant crossover between summer-wear and casual-wear – and this is a pitfall you should be sure to avoid when picking outfits. Wrap-around summer-skirts and tank tops are, by and large, out. Look instead for summery iterations of quintessential workwear. 

DON’T Wear Flip-Flops

The same thought process applies to footwear! Flip-flops are an incredibly casual item of clothing, not to mention frustrating for co-workers every time you ‘flip-flop’ to the kitchenette for a cup of tea. Sandals are an acceptable alternative, so long as they don’t stray into ‘Greek hiking holiday’ territory…

DON’T Bare All

Last, but certainly not least, many summer items of clothing achieve summer readiness through the removal of fabric – some of which is absolutely fine, but much of which can make for an unprofessional outfit. This is already somewhat covered by the aforementioned bottoms-length issue, but also applies to tops such as tank tops, blouses and vests. Crop-tops are an absolute no-no, and plunging backlines are out unless covered by a shawl or blazer. Try and keep to a rule of showing no more than beyond your elbows and knees; the rest will surely fall into place!