If only “suiting up” in the summer meant simply wearing a swimsuit. One can dream, right? But unless you’re a lifeguard or river raft guide, you probably have an office dress code to adhere to. And, sadly, that doesn’t melt away when the weather turns hot.
Whether you work in a conservative office with a strict dress code or clock in at a more creative hub, experts say you can keep your cool this summer, all while keeping your professional edge. (Because, trust us, nobody wants to trudge, in their flip-flops, nonetheless, to the HR office to receive a dress code violation.)
For men, shorts suits are having a major fashion moment now – think traditional suiting on top, with knee-length shorts in the same material. But, it’s mostly a “don’t try this at work” kind of look, according to Gerilyn Manago, Men’s Health fashion editor.
“Short suits might work for Pharrell on the red carpet, but they’re not your best option for the boardroom,” she says. “It’s difficult for the average guy to pull off this look, so don’t do it – unless you work in a creative industry or are the one signing the checks.”
A summer must, however, is dressing in layers, according to the fashion editor.
“When commuting to and from the office, don’t wear your suit jacket,” Manago says. “You’ll feel cooler without the extra weight.”
If you have extra oily skin, she says, keep a mist – like Kiehl’s Oil Eliminator Refreshing Shine Control Toner for Men – in the desk drawer.
“It’ll cool you off and keep you shine-free,” she says.
KJ Singh, sales manager at Mohan’s Custom Tailors (www.mohancustomtailors.com), a custom suit-making shop in Midtown Manhattan, says most of the tailor’s clients still wear suits even when it’s 80 or 90 degrees and humid.
The good news: Mohan’s has an “Anti-Sweat Suit,” designed using extra light-weight performance material to deter sweat, which can be made in light colors and can make a guy feel up to 10 degrees cooler.
For women, a few summer 2014 trends are working overtime, as they transition well into an office setting.
Allison Dent, style expert for Premium Outlets (www.premiumoutlets.com), points to the midi-skirt, which hits between the knee and the ankle and can look polished and professional.
“It works great in the office because you don’t run into issues with appropriate length,” she says.
To flatter the midi skirt, balance it out with a chunky shoe or a strappy sandal and by wearing a more fitted top or accentuating your waist with a belt, Dent says.
Another trend Dent is taking note of is wide-leg trousers.
“It’s light. It’s breezy,” Dent says. “It’s great for summer and can be styled professionally.”
She suggests pairing the trousers with a tank or shell and adding a blazer or cardigan as needed to go to and from meetings.
To avoid wrinkles, look for pants with a light lining, Dent suggests, adding that wrap dresses in a jersey fabric also work great for the office, as they’re soft, light and the draping is figure-flattering.
Deborah Moore, senior vice president of women’s design for Lands’ End (www.landsend.com), says a white, non-iron shirt tucked into a skirt or pant feels fresh for summer and works well for a conservative office setting. Adding a belt or a scarf can lend a pop of color.
The Lands’ End “no-iron” shirts come out of the dryer, ready to wear. For a classic look, try the “Women’s Embroidery Washed Oxford Shirt” or the “3/4-Sleeve Modern Broadcloth Shirt.”
For a casual office look, longer shorts with 9- or 10-inch inseams are a new “go-to” for creative offices, says Moore. Her office-ready tip: Add a crease to the front of the short. A ballet flat with the shorts also feminize the look, she says.
“Stripes on dresses are also really fresh for the season,” Moore adds.
Another way to wick away sweat and beat the summer heat? UNIQLO (www.uniqlo.com) has an AIRism line of camisoles, sleeveless tops and bra tops that are made to keep you cool. The super-light layering pieces are enhanced with quick-dry and deodorizing properties to keep you fresh (and without sweat marks).
“It really works with your body’s own natural cooling system,” says Eileen McMaster, with UNIQLO.
Try pairing one underneath a wrap dress or a structured button-up. The tops come in an array of colors and patterns, lending a perfect pop of color or print underneath a solid wrap dress or cardigan.