When the heat and humidity strike, so does the temptation to dress down at the office. But whether it’s January or July, the rules are the same: You should always look professional, you should always look like you belong, and you should always be appropriately attired for your work environment.
Your attire says everything about you at all times. Does your look say, I’m going to a luau or I’m ready for business? Does it say, I belong at the beach or I belong in the corner office? No matter the weather you must always dress for success at work.
Here’s how to dress appropriately in the heat of the summer:
- Understand your corporate culture.What are the expectations for summer attire in your office? What does HR say? Look around at the senior staff members—how are they dressed? How does your boss or your boss’s boss dress? A suit and tie may be required year round. Ladies may have to wear stockings and sleeves. The point is to find out what is expected at your office and follow suit.
- Lighten up. I mean this literally—go for lighter fabrics.Think linen, cotton, and silk, rather than tweeds and wools. Choose lighter colors, too. Check out sites like InStyle or Esquire for professional warm weather options.
- Choose the right dress for success.For the ladies, sundresses are perfectly appropriate in the summertime as long as they are not flimsy, sexy, or see-through; they are cut conservatively; and they are paired with a light cardigan or jacket. Dresses should fall at or below the knee. As always, you should never show any cleavage.
- No ugly toes.Open-toed shoes may or may not be appropriate at your work—again, see what senior staff wear or check with HR. If open toes are ok, be sure your feet are well groomed. Pedicures are a must, and you should always choose a conservative color. You will not be taken seriously if your toenail polish is neon orange.
- Bra straps should remain hidden.If you are a professional woman your bra strap should never be exposed at the office. In fact, if you are having trouble finding a bra for a particular shirt or outfit for work, you are wearing the wrong thing.
- Find our what Casual Friday means.What does your boss wear? You don’t want to be a stick in the mud and wear a suit when everyone else is in khakis, but you should still observe a conservative, professional rule. If you are a man, you may be able to wear a short-sleeved shirt, but think polo rather than Hawaiian. And I say no shorts, ever.
- Interview outfit rules remain the same.Even in warm weather the same rules apply for interview attire: Dress for the job you want, look like you already belong, and dress even more conservatively than you normally would. You want to make a good impression, and you want to do it by looking as polished and professional as possible, like you already belong.
- Check your smell.We’re all a little sweatier and stickier in the summertime, so make an extra effort to check your hygiene. After that walk from the Metro, pop into the bathroom to freshen up. Maybe even keep a little dopp kit in your office with deodorant, powder, etc. Runny make-up and sweat stains are never a good look.
- Finally, here is a list of things never to wear to the office in the summertime if you want to be taken seriously:
- Cropped tops
- Halter tops
- Camisoles or spaghetti straps (without a jacket or cardigan)
- Mini skirts
- Low-cut shirts or blouses
- See-through blouses
- Short-sleeved shirts with ties
- Hawaiian shirts
- Neon nail polish
Remember, Summer doesn’t mean professionalism should go out the window. Choose outfits that are seasonal but professional. Find out what your senior management team wears. You should always be appropriately attired for your work environment.