Love it or hate it, you still have to go to work and look like a decent human being no matter how hot and/or humid is it outside.
Although I am definitely in the #lovesummerhateeverthingelse camp with Leandra Medine, I realize that looking professional in the hot hot heat isn’t always the easiest accomplishment. That’s why I’ve decided to come up with a couple simple steps to getting dressed for work in the summer.
Step 1: Choose the right fabrics
Did you know that some fabrics can make you hotter than others? It’s true! Here’s a breakdown of what materials you should be wearing (and which you shouldn’t)
- Cotton, bamboo, and linen natural fibers. Natural fibers are ‘breathable’ meaning that they let air pass easily through them. The more air passing through the fibers, the more your body is cooled down (not to mention all the hot air isn’t stuck right next to your body). BONUS: they also dry fairly well.
- Performance fabrics. These are specific fabrics that are designed to wick (aka: pull) water away from your skin and transfer it through the fabric letting it evaporate into the air. Think: your fabric yoga outfit. The tricky part is to make what is essentially work out clothes work appropriate (no fear though, I’ll show you some examples below!)
- Wool. Wool’s specialty is trapping body heat which is why it’s so effective at keeping you warm in the winter. Even if you are opting for a summer sweater, be sure to choose cotton.
- Anything plastic (that isn’t a performance fabric). Plastic fabrics are the worst in hot weather. Not only do they allow NO air flow, but they also take forever to dry out…meaning that you’ll sweat a lot and everyone will know. I use the term ‘plastic’ to describe these fabrics because they are literally made out of plastic (fun fact!). The most popular plastic fabrics are: polyester, acetate, and nylon. (IMPORTANT! Technically, performance fabrics are made from some of these same materials. The difference is that PF have been specially modified for athletes. A button down shirt from your local department store made from polyester IS NOT a performance fabric).
Step 2: Work around your classic wardrobe
Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean you have to neglect your entire wardrobe. The first step to putting together a great summer work outfit is to have the right basics. (Not sure what the basics are? Click here to learn more about the 20 basics every woman needs in her closet.)
Once you have the right basics, you can build off of them for summer. Here’s an easy formula to doing just that:
1. Start with a skirt or pants (or tailored shorts if your work allows)
2. Add an undershirt (this soaks up most of the sweat, if you’re a sweater)
3. Choose a blouse that is sleeveless or short sleeve (you can stop here if you aren’t required to cover your shoulders)
4. If your dress code requires you to cover your shoulders, wear a light cardigan instead of a blazer
5. Top with fun accessories. Since you aren’t wearing as many layers, use accessories to make your outfits more interesting.
Step 3: Know the tricks of the trade
When you live in a hot place, you develop ways to work around the heat (and still look professional).
Here are my favorite tips:
1. Wear an undershirt.
I know I already said this, but it really does work! There’s a relatively new company that makes ‘sweat proof’ undershirts. I have never tried them, so I can’t vouch for whether they work, but if you have tried NUMI, leave a comment below and let us know!
2. Keep things as loose as possible.
A-lines skirts > pencil skirts. Swing dress > sheath dress. Loose blouse > fitted blouse. I think you get the idea. The more air flow you have, the better things will be. To achieve a more tailored and less bohemian look, tuck in shirts, belt tops and dresses, and add fitted clothing once you get to the office. See picture below.
3. Layers are just as important in the summer as the winter.
With the summer heat also comes severe air conditioning abuse. Keeping several blazers or cardigans at work allow you to still look professional without the need to walk across the city in a suit jacket.
4. Get your hair and makeup to play along.
Wearing your hair in a nicely coifed up do not only looks professional, but it keeps it off the back of your (hot) neck. As for makeup, you need some sort of setting spray or powder. Seriously. If you don’t, your makeup will take an unfortunate pilgrimage down your face as the day goes on.
Need some outfit inspo? Check out these ideas:
(Can you tell which items are actually activewear? I’ll give you a hint: both dresses and two shirts are made from performance fabrics)
What do you love to wear in the summer when it gets hot? Tell me below in the comments!