Keep It Cool while Still Dressing Professionally

When it comes to summer attire at work, don’t sweat it. You can be cool, calm and collected— and still look put together.  Get through the hot weather in a breeze with these tips:


  • Resist the urge to show bare skin. If the clothing seems too low-cut, strappy, short, see-through or strapless, save it for the weekend.
  • Capri pants may be a “gray area” in workplace attire. If they’re allowed, make sure they are dressier in nature and are not embellished with cargo pockets or overly casual.
  • Dresses are comfortable in the summer, but most sundresses are too casual for the office. Wrap and shirt dresses are excellent alternatives.
  • Sandals can be a tough choice. Some offices are OK with them; others aren’t. If you wear sandals or open-toed shoes, make sure your toes are pedicured.
  • Many offices are air-conditioned, so have a cardigan or jacket on hand. They’re also good to have in case of unexpected meetings and appointments.
  • Go easy with the fragrance. Heat intensifies many scents.


  • Since most men don’t have as many style options to keep cool, fabrics are key. Try a wool trouser blended with linen or gabardine for a lighter-weight option.
  • Tuck in your shirt at work, no matter the style. Belts and shoes that are the same color leather give a “pulled together” look to business casual clothing.
  • If you are allowed some latitude in your summer attire, remember to keep footwear professional. Beat-up tennis shoes or old flip flops send the wrong message.
  • Exposing a portion of your chest is not an appropriate choice for a business setting. Either button another button or wear an undershirt.
  • Choose a light cologne. Again, some of the spicy scents can become overpowering in the heat.

Remember, comfort is important, but maintaining a professional appearance matters more. If you’re unsure what is appropriate in your office, err on the side of conservative attire: It’s the safest option until you’re sure. With your observation and some discretion, you’ll find summer clothing can work for—not against—your professional image.

How’s your professional image? If you need some feedback, join a Professional Presence, Image & Etiquette seminar from Dardis Communications.