While some companies have official “Casual Fridays,” many will accept some amount of dressing down every day of the week during the stifling summer months ahead. The good news is it’s indeed possible to stay cool and still look professional. Here are a few suggestions on summer threads that won’t make you look like you’re at the beach:
If in doubt, ask. If you’re going on an interview or sales calls, ask the person who has arranged the meeting for some advice. This may sound awkward, but it can be as simple as this: “Would you please tell me about the attire in your office so I can dress appropriately for our appointment?” Following these rules ensures that you’re always stylish and smart – a winning combination in any weather.
Bury the black and wear white. It’s light and airy. Linen shirts line the racks in stores from Target to Rodeo Drive. No matter what your budget, these basics are a smart staple and work with just about any bottoms. Dress it up with accessories.
If you go for trendy new shorts, make sure they’re just above the knee – no shorter – and pair them with nice shoes. Linen and cotton fabrics, for women and men, are dressier than jean shorts and therefore more office-appropriate. Never wear sneakers or cutoff shorts, no matter what – unless your work is entirely outdoors.
If you must wear a suit, switch from wool to cotton or linen fabrics. Under your jacket, go for short-sleeve shirts or sleeveless blouses.
Avoid ultra-short skirts, low-cut necklines, super-high heels, too-tight clothes, and anything bordering on too sexy. This is true in any weather, but even more important to keep in mind in the summer months.
Flip-flops are out. Sling-backs, espadrilles and loafers are preferable to open-toed shoes or “strappy” sandals. If your toes are visible, keep nails bare or perfectly polished. Chipped color looks sloppy and unprofessional on both fingers and toes.
Ladies, lighten up on your makeup. A fresh summer face means heavy eyeliner is out. A lightweight foundation or bronzer is in. Stick with natural shades.
Easy-care hairstyles, including a loose ponytail, can dress you up while cooling you down. Inexpensive grooming products (hairspray, gel, hair gloss, etc.) help minimize the appearance of unprofessional frizz or an untamed mane.
Keep in mind that extra-casual attire is only for inside the office among co-workers, not clients. For interviews, meetings and out-of-office appointments, always maintain your professionalism by upping your attire a notch or two.
More Career and Money Tips: