Summer work outfits don’t have to be difficult. While the heat makes choosing proper work attire especially tricky, since indoor temperatures can vary widely; if you’ve ever decked yourself in cool, breezy, sleeveless linens on a 90 degree day, only to step into an air conditioned office that feels like a walk-in freezer, you’re not alone. Here are few tips that can keep you cool all day on an outdoor job site and comfortable at your desk.
If your job requires a uniform — and said uniform just doesn’t work for you on a sweltering day — build summer work outfits that fit within bounds. For example, some jobs require employees to dress in all black (restaurants and salons, for example) but they don’t specify coverage, fabric, or style. Use this freedom to improvise. Wear a lighter material. Try shorter sleeves. Perhaps a skirt (even a long one) would do the trick. Do you work outside? See if you can don a hat to shield your face from the sun. If your compromises won’t pass muster, talk to your boss about adjusting the rules. See what compromises you can make. After all, smart bosses know that employees provide their best work when they’re comfortable.
Managing business casual attire in extreme weather comes down to one word: layering. You can build countless summer work outfits off of this idea. Office workers fare best when they follow the classic rule that combines comfort with style. For men, this may mean sweaters over oxford shirts, or suit jackets that can be removed. Women can do these things too, and they can also make creative use of wraps, cardigans, shrugs, and stylish ponchos. If you normally wear pants, opt for a pencil skirt. You can always add nylons for a more polished look. Choose natural fibers like linen and cotton when you can; they breathe better, look more dignified, drape better, wear better, and even smell nicer than synthetics.
What you wear on your feet can have a powerful impact on your overall comfort during a long hot outdoor day, an overly air conditioned indoor day, or a day that moves wildly back and forth between the two. During extreme weather, women — and men — can adapt by keeping multiple shoe options on hand. Bring an extra pair in a tote, or keep your “pretty shoes” at your desk while you walk back and forth in something else. Look around and bend the rules if you choose. Your footwear dress code may forbid sandals, but what about a pretty pair of open-toed flats? Perhaps cloth dress shoes would do the trick too. No matter what, make sure all of your summer work outfits show respect for your organization and co-workers.
For more on how to dress and present yourself as you work your way up the career ladder, check out the tools and tips available on MyPerfectResume.