Cool Outfits for Hot Days

Share this post

It’s hot outside. The bosses are away on vacation. It’s tempting to make every day casual Friday. But if you want to leverage your wardrobe to help advance your career, it’s worthwhile to keep some office fashion dos and don’ts in mind.

DON’T show too much skin.

How much skin is too much skin? Think about it in terms of equal opportunity workplaces. In other words, if it would look weird for a guy to wear it, consider whether you should. For instance, would you like to see Marvin-from-accounting’s superhairy shoulders looming over you in your cubicle? If he can’t wear a tank top, should you?

How about that strip of belly on your seriously muscled ad sales guy? It may be aesthetically appealing, but a glimpse of his midriff is probably not the impression he wants to give new clients. Belly-baring tops should probably be left to the people whose jobs require it: models, lifeguards, Vegas cocktail waitresses.

DON’T wear flip-flops.

You might quibble with this one, since the world of flip-flops has expanded way past the rubber shower shoes of yore. Today’s flip-flops can be made of expensive materials and festooned with baubles. But that doesn’t make them office-appropriate. Here’s why: flip-flops make it look like you’d rather be at the beach than in the office. And while that may be true, broadcasting that wish is not a recipe for career success.

Instead of flip-flops, look for options like polished sandals or open-toed flats, or, if you’re daring, open-toed booties. (Make sure your pedicure is on point.) Casual Fridays call for a pair of clean white or navy Keds.

DO plan for the chill of air-conditioning.

Offices get cold in the summer. It’s hard to remember just how chilly your cube is when you awaken to a weather report predicting triple-digit temperatures. That’s why it pays to bring a scarf to your office. Another good option is a three-quarter-sleeve cardigan in a neutral color like light yellow.

DO look for seasonal switch-ups.

Your little black dress can take you through 10 months of the year, but 90-degree temps call for something a bit crisper. Why not switch your LBD to an LWD—little white dress?

DO explore shorts.

Tailored shorts in a Bermuda length can be a comfortable, cool option for men or women. Pair with a more formal look on top for a nice contrast. Possibly a sleeveless blazer (yes, they’re a thing now).

DO be careful with shirts.

Plunging necklines, Christmas sweaters in any month but December, see-through blouses—these are the tops that can thwart your workplace ambitions. And don’t wear a message tee unless the message you want to send is “I’m quite happy on the bottom rung of my career ladder.”

DO adjust your clothes to fit the workplace culture you find yourself in.

Every office has a different culture; what’s considered perfectly cool in the ad agency might not fly in the law firm. Look around you. Who has the job you want? What is she wearing? Subtly matching your style to the higher-ups you would like to impress is a simple way to show that you’re focused on your career.

Obviously the best place to find out what the community standards for your office are is in the employee handbook. Check it every so often in case you forget some obscure rule like “no chartreuse on Mondays.”

Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine newsletter.


Subscribe to the WEEKLY BITE

* indicates required


Recent WorkLife articles:

Create a time-off policy to reduce employee conflict
October 17, 2017
Preventing disease is as easy as washing your hands
October 12, 2017
How to plan a winning office holiday party
October 10, 2017
Your work wardrobe can be both appropriate and attractive—here's how
October 5, 2017
Help others, share meaning, or just have fun this holiday season
October 3, 2017
Get a handle on kitchen cleanliness—without alienating your staff
September 26, 2017
Your workplace can help save the world
September 19, 2017
A clean office is a healthy office
September 12, 2017
Seven employee benefits that are so 2017
August 29, 2017
Four strategies to strengthen your team and minimize gossip
August 22, 2017

More recent articles:

Fruit in the office brings joy, health, and energy
September 28, 2017
Get motivated to run through the winter
September 21, 2017
Yoga for your neck and back
September 14, 2017
Six ways to get creative with apples
September 7, 2017
Six tips for starting a Walktober challenge at your workplace
September 5, 2017
Three simple slow cooker recipes that use summer vegetables
August 31, 2017
Layered salads for your work lunch
August 24, 2017
How to go green with your fizzy water habit
August 17, 2017
How to sleep when the temperature soars
August 10, 2017
Sonoma County rallies to rescue its heirloom apple
August 3, 2017

About Us

Our monthly online magazine features articles about fitness, health, food, and work, as well as recipes featuring farm-fresh fruit!