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How to Dress for Work When the Weather Is Too Hot to Handle

Topics: Work Culture

When it’s scorching hot outside, the last thing you want to do is throw on stuffy business attire and head out for work – but do you really have a choice? Turns out, you do. Although you may not be able to wear shorts, a tank top, and flip-flops to work, there are ways to tweak your wardrobe so that you stay cool, while still looking the part.

dress for work

(Image Credit: Sara Kauten/Unsplash)

Mind Your Fabrics

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Although natural fabrics are best, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some synthetic fibers out there that are just as good, if not better than the “real” deal. The best breathable fabrics to consider during the summertime are cotton, chambray, linen, rayon, and blends, says Stitch Fix. You want to look for fabrics that allow for optimal air circulation, so the lighter the better – that goes for color, too. Darker fabrics will absorb more heat than lighter colors like white, cream, and pastels.

Business-Meets-Sporty Wear

Thanks to advancements made in the sports apparel industry, you can now purchase garments that are professional-looking that are also breathable, lightweight, and fast-drying (for when you perspire). This is a great option for professionals who use public transportation and/or walk to and from work, or for individuals who work out in the field (i.e. visit job sites).

Less Is More (But Be Sensible)

When I say “less is more,” I’m referring to wearing fewer layers of clothing, not wearing skimpy clothes. Ladies, opt for sleeveless blouses (NOT spaghetti strap tops, though) and skirts that aren’t more than three inches above your knee. Although men are a bit more limited in their options, they can improvise by wearing undershirts that are more breathable and that wick away perspiration, or they can nix the undershirt completely and wear a lightweight golf polo that still looks professional. If you can get away with short-sleeve button-up shirts or polo shirts at work, then do it, gentlemen.

Go With the Flow

Garments that have some flow to them allow for more air circulation, thus making them ideal for the summertime heat. Ladies are fortunate in that they have the option of wearing flow-y summer dresses and skirts that are work-appropriate. Sorry, gents. You don’t have it as easy as the ladies. The thing to remember is to stick to loose-fitting shirts and pants that are lightweight, breathable, and lighter in color.

Get Dressed at Work

If the weather is being exceptionally brutal, you may want to consider wearing something that will keep you cool during your commute, then getting dressed at work. If you do this, be sure to keep a few wardrobe and hygiene essentials at your desk, like deodorant, body wipes, a lint roller, a portable steamer, and maybe even an extra lightweight blazer for client meetings, etc. (Ladies, that means you can stay cool and wear that gorgeous sleeveless silk blouse, without worrying about wrinkles or embarrassing perspiration stains!)

Just because it’s hot out, doesn’t mean you have the right to break your company’s dress code. Hopefully the tips above will help you modify your work wardrobe so that you can dress for success and stay cool.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you dress for work when it’s hotter than you-know-what out? Share your style tips with our community on Twitter or leave a comment below. We’d love to hear what professional summertime fashion tips you have.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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