6 guidelines for your summer work wardrobe

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Dressing for summer in the office can be tough. Ninety-degree weather and a suit jacket don’t exactly mix, but neither do guys in shorts and corporate boardrooms. Not to mention the fact that, at any given point during the summer, it’s about 40 degrees cooler in the average office building than it is outside.

But it is possible to create a summer work wardrobe that’s comfortable yet professional, and cool yet collected. Here’s how.

1. No flip flops: Ladies, this faux-pas is typically committed by you, so listen up: “Flip flops are beach wear which transpired into ‘commuter-wear’ and then slowly into office wear,” says Lizandra Vega, author of “The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want.”

Not only do they look unprofessional, but their namesake “flip-flop” noise is an easy way to drive your co-workers nuts every time you walk by their desks, so opt for strappy sandals, espadrilles or ballet flats instead.

2. Choose light colors: “Lighter color garments help you keep cool during hot summer months,” Vega says. “Dark colors absorb heat, while light colors reflect heat.” That said; make sure the color isn’t too light. See below.

3. No peep shows:  Summer clothing is often made of lightweight, lightly colored fabric. This can make for a comfortable commute, but it can also make for awkward over exposure. “Avoid apparel in fabrics that are so lightweight that they are see-through,” Vega says.

4. Wear an undershirt: It may seem counter-intuitive to add an extra layer when it’s hot out, but (men especially), if you don’t already wear an undershirt, you might want to start now. The extra layer will help absorb sweat during a mid-summer commute.

“Wearing a cotton undershirt actually helps men feel cooler as it will absorb perspiration,” Vega says. “[Plus],if a lighter fabric shirt is chosen, the undershirt will prevent it from being see-through.”

5. For women, dresses are best: Women are at a serious advantage when it comes to dressing for summer at the office for one simple reason: They can wear dresses.

“Dresses are a great option because it avoids having to wear a jacket,” Vega says. “A wrap dress, a sheath or shift dress are appropriate options.”

If you will be forgoing the jacket, look for styles with short or three-quarter length sleeves, even sleeveless if you feel comfortable. Tank-style dresses are too casual for the office without a jacket or cardigan, though.

6. Keep an extra layer at work: Women can keep a wrap or lightweight, neutral-colored cardigan in their desks in case the air conditioning is kicked into overdrive. Men can do the same with a blazer or sweater.

What is your go-to outfit for summer? What’s the biggest faux-pas for office attire? Share your opinions in the comments section, below.

122 Comments
  1. What about summer interviewing? When it’s 95 degrees and humid outside and you’ve got a long commute on public transit and a walk to get to the interview? Who wants to put on a wool suit, pantyhose or a tie then? Is there any way to avoid looking like a sweaty disheveled mess when you arrive? Keep in mind that in a crowded downtown area bathrooms are often reserved for patrons only, and most casual places don’t even have them available to the public because of bums, so freshening up at a nearby location is often not an option. Also, these darn office buildings have locked bathrooms, so you can’t sneak into one before walking into the office for your interview. Please help! This has been an issue for me on more than one occasion.

    • For summer interviewing, go for a linen/cotton blend suit or tailored dress. Linen keeps you cool and it creases less when mixed with another fibre. To avoid the need for pantyhose, go for a very light sheeny fake tan on your legs (not orange!).

    • You can always wear that good looking suit, just plan ahead. For the commute and walk, leave off the tie, shed the jacket, and even roll the sleeves up. Arrive early to allow time to cool down and freshen up in a building restroom or even at a nearby location. Tie you tie, straighten up the jacket and then go knock the interview out of the park.

      • EPIC reply fail!!! what part of not being able to use a restroom to freshen up was not comprehended? lol.. good job.

        • I don’t know what to tell you about the no bathroom issue. Just be polite with the secretary or front desk staff and ask to use the bathroom before your interview. How hard is that?

        • @ celida
          She said even at a nearby location. Therefore, not an epic reply fail. And wear plenty of deoderant! lol :)

        • If there is a hotel nearby you can use their bathrooms off the lobby or restaurant. Hotel staff don’t monitor who comes and goes.

    • Wear a short sleaved blouse and a knee length skirt, a full skirt is more comfortable and airy. Carry the jacket until just before you enter the office. Guys, no easy answer. You gotta do the shirt and tie. Make it a short sleve shirt and apply the same rule.

    • As far as clothing goes, wear a light, loose camisole and bring a blazer to throw over it. Adding a string of pearls helps pull together a professional yet feminine look. Always works for me.

      • Also, bring along a compact mirror and some light eyeshadow to sweep under your eyes if your makeup runs in the heat, as well as a small baggie of corn starch or baking soda to rub into your roots if the sweat makes your hair get greasy during the commute.

  2. i am required to wear closed-toes shoes and socks/stockings due to the 70,000 sq. ft. showroom I work in. I currently wear the sketchers buckle(velcroe) shoes. We have also recently changed our dress code to “office attire”. Do you have any recommendations on an attractive shoe that will be orthopedically correct for tough conditions and look fashionable to wear with dresses or dressy slacks?

    • I love Dansko’s – some think they are a bit clunky, but they have some great options, colors, and are extremely durable and comfortable. I’ve practically lived in mine for years.

    • Try “Shoes for Crews”. They make dress shoes that are slip resistant and designed for tough conditions. Used to wear them when I worked at a restaurant.

    • Try barkingdogshoes.com for comfortable shoe recommendations! It’s a great blog. (I’m not affiliated in any way, just a happy reader!)

    • you can buy rockports, hush puupies,easy spirit, i love comfort shoes they have dress shoes and people wouldnt know they are comfort shoes.

    • I would highly recommend Sofft brand shoes – they are cute and super comfortable, even their heels! Plus they make strappy sandals (that are not flip flops) that with the right pedicure are great. If you have to wear hose then I would opp for a peep toe slingback with sheer toe hose – or they have hose now that have the toes cut out just for peep toe shoes! One last thing, if you wear a dress and have to wear hose but don’t want to do knee highs for the dreaded showing of the top problem but don’t want the heat issue of pantyhose opt for thigh highs – if you spend a little bit more on them (and then handwash in the sink) they will stay up, allow you to be cooler and last longer. Good luck!

    • I also wear the same shoe. I have them in black and I wear them with slacks. They don’t always look the best with some of my outfits. My boss said the look fine to him. I also have to wear closed toe shoes due to working in a cabinet shop. I run the office and showroom, but some times I have to go into the shop where the production takes place.

    • personally I am head over heals for the Vera Wang Lavendar flats. They are extremely durable, and the souls are the perfect match of support and flexibility.

    • Clarks make some very comfortable work appropriate shoes. They can be pricey (under $100) but are well worth the comfort, you can walk miles in them!

    • You didn’t say, what age you are or if you have specific foot problems. Soffts and Clarks may be okay for someone young or with very little foot problem, but they have little or no arch support at all and tend to break down very quickly. Try European shoes such as Josef Seibels or Naots (from Israel). My first pair of Seibel’s lasted 8 years! They are pricey: $130, but all leather and properly supportive (many styles are still manufactured with steel shanks – but be prepared to always be searched when flying) If looking for dressier shoes, try Cole Haan’s and Aerosoles. Cole Haan is again, all leather and well made , but can run $170-200 a pair. Aerosoles are much less expensive $55 to $80 and can be purchased on line at their website. I have a local outlet where I can score Cole Haan’s for $37 and Aerosoles for $25.

      Always buy fewer shoes and opt for better quality, spend more on the shoes you wear every day and skimp on the “special occasion” shoes, and try to switch out your heal height at least once a day. This is especially important when working on concrete.

      Ballet flats are just about the worst shoes you can put on.

      Point of reference: I’m single and earn $12 an hour. My first pair of Seibels were purchased on sale ($99) and wound up costing me under $13/ year. I wore them the first day for 18 hours on concrete at a convention and never had a problem!

  3. My office has a dude who wears sleeveless shirts to work. Besides the fact it is totally an unprofessional look (we don’t have a dress code, but probably should), he looks like he has Don King in a headlock. Someone other than me should really tell him it is inappropriate.

    • Someone in your HR department needs to address the man in sleevless shirt issue. If it bothers several of you, see the HR person as a group or submit a nicely worded anonymous request. Don’t come down on the guy for any reason other than the sleeveless shirts so it will not seem like a vendetta.

  4. Would it be appropriate to wear a dress to a summer interview provided it is professional-looking, such as a nice shirtdress, or a dress with a belted cardigan? (Asks the aspiring fashion writer.)

    For Janet: As for shoes, I very much second Danskos. They’re worth the price and have a few different styles, some clunky, some not. I wear them for 14 hours per workday in the Emergency Room I work in. (Which I am trying to transition out of, mind.) I also add some Dr. Scholl’s inserts to them for extra arch support, but not all people need to do that.

    For Anonymous: I’m guessing this person may not see this article, so I have a rather sneaky idea that may work. Conspire with everyone else at work to wear professional (as professional as you can provided your environment) workwear for a week. After that week, he may just realize that he needs to fit it and not look like he stepped out of the late 1960s.

    Good luck and thank you!

    • Yes, It is appropriate to wear a dress to an interview. However, take care that the dress is on a conservative side ( sleeves long or short, hem no higher than one inch above the knee, stay with neutral colors such as navy blue, or beige). See throught dresses are a no-no as well as tight fitting form dresses. What I recommend is that you still carry a blazer that cooridnates with the dress selection to still have that professional appearance.
      Dee

  5. You forgot to add capri pants with sandals. Many woman who work in the back offices like accounting and customer service do wear them and the tops they choose are very inappropriate. Somedays I long for the traditional office attire dress code instead of business casual which no one interprets properly.

    • It seems like anything goes at the office anymore? For most of my working life, “business casual” has been the norm at my workplaces. The exception was a law office where traditional, professional attire was required.

      But it seems that people interpret business casual in very different ways. Some think business casual is jeans and sandals. Other people think it means dress slacks without a suit jacket and tie.

      Someone needs to define professional wear and business casual wear.

      • Who cares anymore. If you work in an office and don’t interact with customers dress anyway you want. You are there to work, not for a fashion show. Exceptions of course would be anything overly flirtatious or insulting to others like gang attire.

        • Tom, I would have to disagree with your post. I believe that if you dress casual then you conduct business more in a casual manner. Which is okay if you work in a Surf Shop. If you dress up for work, even if you work in an office just answering phones, you will conduct yourself more professional. If you work in a store room and receive merchandise all day long then you should dress the part such as a “tasteful” plain t-shirt or polo shirt and work slacks (Dickies, etc.).

          • I would have to disagree with Lynn’s statement. I work in an office where the dress code is pretty casual with a few exceptions (ie: no jeans- and we all abide) but there is nothing casual about the way I handle my work responsibilities. I work in an office where we do not have alot of people coming in from the public, so we’re oftne not seen but that doesn’t mean we don’t take our work seriously. On the other hand, we do have a select few individuals in the office who come in dressed to the nines….. and then they do absolutely nothing all day. They have been seen doing homework on work time and playing solitaire (heck,I thought solitaire had lost it’s excitement and people didn’t bother doing that anymore!) and the biggest fad lately is talking & texting on cell phones all day. In any case, it’s a nice front, but don’t assume that just because people are dressed extremely well that it means they are doing big things in the office.

      • I’ve always advise students that professional attire in workplace should be reflective of how you want others to precieve you as a professional. Your attire should reflect where you aspire to go within your career. Look around to those who are in upper management ( directors, vps etc) take note of what they may wear you use this as your guide when in doubt about what to wear doing the warm weather season.
        Dee

      • Original definition of Business Casual–For men: Dress slacks, tie, coordinating blazer with colored shirt, as opposed to white/cream shirt, and dress shoes. I.E., not a matching suit and white shirt with tie which is business dress.

        Similar guidelines for women.

        Blame Levi Dockers for the conundrum we now have with people taking “casual” to the extreme and thinking that sweat shirts and leggings are appropriate for office wear. Even if you don’t come in contact with the public, you still represent your employer and you are supposedly in a corporate or otherwise professional environment.

        If you work in a hi-tech environment and your employer allows, go for the “I just rolled out of bed” look, if not, respect your employer. After all, your employer supports your family and life style with that paycheck you get each week.

  6. If I were staying at home then flip-flops, tank tops, shorts and jeans would be ok. BUT, you are going to work, you are earning an income. Someone is paying you for doing a job and with that comes professionalism. If you are in flip-flops is you mind-set professional or sitting on a beach??? Unless the BOSS ok’s casual, wouldn’t you want to be dressed for SUCCESS??

    Where’s the pride in oneself, determination to great success and desire for positive recognition?

    Spoiled Lazy….

    • not LAZY, but LUCKY ! Here I am employed to run a small company that is in the distibutor business. We ALL, boss included, wear shorts, flips, tanks, and T’s. and our business is growing by leaps and bounds !!
      Kudos to the ones who know it’s not HOW you dress, but how you PRESENT, that gets the job done.

      • I too am lucky. I work for a small business and my boss is okay with flip flops and jeans as long as we get our work done. He is laid back, that makes us feel comfortable and more productive. Everyone I work with likes their job, how many of you can say the same?!

      • I agree, I work at a family run business and while shorts are frowned upon, sweatpants, jeans, tshirts and flip flops are fine. Alot of the girls in the office wear slippers in the winter! One of my bosses is barefoot (socks) most of the day or in flip flops! So very lucky! And my last job was just about the same, we could even wear shorts!

      • WPB, you pointed out something important about dressing professionally. Another aspect one must consider when deciding what to wear is based upon the environment that your work is conducted. I would not recommend someone to come to work in a warehouse or auto body shop everyday in suits and dressess. However, if the environment allows that individual should still be mindful of the type attire worn. If you are not interacting directly with customers/clients if the company allows allows a more casual look such as jeans, sneakers, flops etc by all means wear them. Still I would shy away from cutoff slacks, see through tops, low rider pants that expose the under garments etc.

    • I am starting my 9th month of my pregnancy…my feet absolutely fit into NOTHING but flip flops..I have scoured the malls, trying on a billion shoes, and only flip flops fit….is this “ok” because people can can tell I am pregnant and due any day?

  7. What do you mean women are at an advantage, “They can wear dresses” ????
    Men can wear dresses too, it is just stupid that they are too afraid to do it!!

    • Of course you should dress appropriately to the industry you are employed in, but no one is impressed with a grungy bum in any industry. I always like to look nice for work. First of all it shows a level of professionalism and respect for others and myself, while also assuring my employer that I can be counted on to represent them. I have been asked to do deliveries outside the office to affiliate businesses, pick up clients from airport and deliver messages in meetings with corporate big wigs. I was informed this was because they felt I looked nice and had the manners to be trusted with conducting myself appropriately. You may want to consider when new management or someone from higher up in the company shows up they may notice the person who stands out from the rest looking neat clean, professional and ready to be the next promotin. Dress for Success. Someone once told me “Dress for the position that you WANT to hold.” So if all of management dresses just a bit better then the rest, dress to match them. If they all dress down to an extreme, I would dress casually, just a little better then they do, maybe dockers or skirt, collared blouse or shirt and nice shoes, flats or sandals are okay if not too casual you arent going to the pool or park. It is over 100′ here in Phoenix all summer, I can tell you about melting in work clothes, light cotton layers, take a sweater or blazer to keep at your desk, and yes, skirts or dresses are great draft catchers for women. Guys, take some wet wipes to work ( the baby ones with NO SCENT are great for this and can be found at the grocery or pharmacy at 2-3$, they even have little travel packs that can fit into a pocket or desk drawer. Wipe your face and neck, wash hands when you get to work. Keep an extra deodorant in your desk drawer.(powder LIGHTLY dusted over chest and tummy, inner thigh and groin(am I allowed to say groin in here?) can help keep you feeling dry. But PLEASE,PLEASE PLEASE don’t overuse the cologne to cover BO… it doesnt work and just compounds the problem and your coworkers will hate you for it !!! GOOD LUCK!

  8. It is possible to stay cool and still dress appropriately. Whatever happened to taking pride in one’s appearance? I agree with the guidelines above, but there are many people at my office who wear flipflop, capris, tee shirts and other items that are best left at home.

  9. Aerosoles – the only shoes I buy for like 15+ years… great looking dress shoes, boots, casual even strappy sandals – you will say AHHHHH when you put them on…..worn them all day when on my feet 17+ hours and no hurting feet at all….

    • History says otherwise. As do contradancers, but we’re an uncommon sort of people. The guys that wear skirts to summer dances do sweat a lot less, and their dance partners appreciate it!

      Personally, I think many men look better in kilts than shorts, anyway.

  10. I wear flip-flops nearly every day in the office where I work. We don’t deal with the public so I really don’t see what difference it makes. People can hear me coming!

    • they hear you coming… but its an irritating noise that people around you are unlikely to appreciate, especially in an office environment!!

  11. It is interesting to note from the comments that it is predominantly women that are dress nazies. Please, I would agree that showing off your armpit beard is too much, but it is actually your strife to turn the office into a fashion show that is counter productive to the whole company. I am an engineer I prefer to wear jeans and a t-shirt when I’m not dealing with clients. Why? Because my job is to think, and I cannot do it effectively while I am uncomfortable. The same fashion police that considers my t-shirt inappropriate also likes to keep the office toasty (again, ladies). It is very distracting to marinade in my own sweat the whole day. If you’re cold then bring an extra layer, don’t force others to suffer. Please leave your unrealized fashionista tendencies at home for the after hours and let me do my job.

    • Sam, I am a woman but I totally agree with you… I would rather be comfortable in jeans and enjoy what I wear to work which in turns would make me more productive. Wearing uncomfortable clothes and shoes is not productive… women are the worst to work with anyway, I got told that I wasn’t allowed to wear thong panties because my manager doesn’t want to see my butt cheeks, you would have thought I was prancing around the office just in my panties. ridiculous.

    • WOW this got nasty after Kate (#27) opened the door with a comment supporting tolerance… I, too, agree with her, Sam (#15), and many others that appearances are secondary, when not face-to-face with cllients/customers. Especially in small group work environments. But this article is meant to inform those in larger groups, where you don’t know everyone enough to just say “your perfume stinks,” “I can see your crack” (whichever one that is), or “I’m tuning the A/C down (up) a little in here.”

      Larger groups need stability by consensus, larger yet, by edict. In those places where such goes unwritten, the Science of Emergence dictates that most will swarm together (centrist – commonly mislabeled conservative), leaving fewer and fewer as rogue outliers. And usually these outliers will go, one way or another. So its in YOUR best interest, unless you are in a small group work setting, to try to fit whatever the “norm” is, hence all articles like this.

      Unless you interact with clients, dress is secondary, to productivity and creativity. Engineers, programmers, researchers should be asked to dress in a way that maintains self-respect. Graphic artists, writers, marketing pros, and others in creative fields, will benefit from more edgy fashion choices. Power linemen, derrick hands, longshoremen, butchers, and factory workers must have a dress code focused on safety. As for lawyers, bankers, doctors, and priests – they know that what they wear is a uniform. Uniforms symbolise background and authority, as they deal with many people daily who barely know them. Finally, anyone who “represents” their company needs to dress accordingly.

      With this in mind, Kate (#27) and Sam (#15) compel me to say that it is best for the employees to be concerned with their work, and not each other. Most people thinking up dress codes aren’t psychologists or management consultants, but persnickity office school-marm-wanna-bees. Firstly that they have this kind of time suggests managerial ineffeciency. Secondly, that they have this disposition suggests they need the kind of focusing that the unemployment line would bring. Thirdly, a dress code is not something for “democratic socratizing.” Chaos. Nor is it for anyone, or select group, to do alone. Allowing a societal hirearchy to replace the meritocracy is the cancer that kills every workgroup. Tossing a bone like this to anyone, even HR, puts everyone else down. It is a big mess. Consult an outside professional. At least SAY you did.

      • “Unless you interact with clients, dress is secondary, to productivity and creativity.”

        Joshua, really???? Numerous studies have been done over the years and dress almost always makes a difference. There are of course rare exceptions, but if anyone has to ask these questions, they would be safe to assume they are not an exception.

        There is no mystery to “approprate casual business attire” for men. A good quality collared golf/ polo style shirt with good quality, pressed khakis and polished good quality shoes will ALWAYS work here in the south. ALWAYS.

        The problem is that nothing is truly acceptable for women. You could dress Cindy Crawford, Demi Moore and Oprah in the polo/khaki uniform and they too, would always look ready for work (once they donned the little cap with the golden arches) they’d be ready to take your order.

        Of course, in some companies this doesn’t matter, but in most it still does. ALWAYS dress for the job you want – not the one you have. Trite but true.

  12. Flipflops with a skirt or a dress look cute on some ladies. It all depends on your sense of style. Are you confident in your work abilities? Do you have enough senority to wear whatever you want? What is your office like? Personally, I wear whatever I feel like wearing to the office– and I have a higher level supervisory position in accounting with this company. I think some people respect me for the fact that my skill level supercedes any dress code. I don’t impose any kind of dress code on anyone else, and I have never judged anyone based on appearance.

    • @Julie,
      You stated, “I think some people respect me for the fact that my skill level supercedes any dress code.”
      Um….think again. Just because you don’t judge based on appearance doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.

  13. I believe it depends on the type of office and the standards set by the boss, office manager and directors. My office is a professional real estate leasing and management office and the boss shows up in gym clothes most days. Interesting enough, the OM shows up in jeans EVERY day while the staff wear anything from office casual suite dresses to sundresses (I think the sundress is a bit much skin personally and am a bit thrown by it). I think in todays electronic world, unless it is a profession that deals with the public directly, there really is not an office ‘standard’ any longer – not like in the 1950′s. That is the last decade that professionals stopped with the ‘dress to impress’…now-a-days it seems anything goes…

  14. We have gotten so lazy that we look for any excuse to dress down. I wish people would take more pride in their appearance and stop looking for the easy way out.

    I live in the south where today it is 92 degrees. I am in an industry where I wear a suit and tie everyday. But regardless if it is 92 outside or 42, my office has air conditioning and heat so it is always 72 inside.
    As for what is acceptable “summer office attire”, in my opinion, it is to look professional and like you care. I’m sorry, flip flops, sleeveless t-shirts and capri pants are just sloppy. They may be fine if you’re going to the beach but not for an office where you are interacting with others, especially clients.

    I’m in my 40′s so to some I may be old but I believe I was simply raised right. Respect yourself and others and I believe that starts with your appearance.

  15. I’m a woman in an executive position. My favorite work ensembles are professional, so that folks are noticing my work, and not my clothing. I tend to favor a classical style (nice pantsuit with a great cut, blouse with some color, pearls, etc.).

    I am amazed constantly at the clothes that employees (usually women) wear to work…short skirts, an abundance of cleavage and other skin, capri pants, shirts that could only be appropriate while clubbing,etc. These same women lament that they are not seen in a professional light…

    My daughter recently entered the work world in her first professional office position. After landing the position, her first order of business was to raid my closet. When her supervisor asked her why she always dressed up for work, she replied: “my mom always taught me not to dress for the job you’re in, dress for the job you want!” Within three months she was promoted, not because of the clothes that she wore, but because she was doing a good job. But I have no doubt that the way she dresses for work gave her an advantage as being seen as a professional, and it helped to gain management’s attention as a person to watch.

  16. The dress code in my office is business casual. Yet, there’s a lady in my office who wears “teen” clothes, big flip flops, and tight low cut tops. She’s a nice person and a manager. So I don’t understand why no one has ever told her it’s highly unprofessional. Sometimes she wears knee length cardigans with fake fur/fuzz around the neck and down the front. It looks like boudoir wear and very tacky. It’s totally innappropriate because she’s seeing clients and going to meetings with executives all day who are in suits or nice clothes.

  17. In Hawaii, “flip-flops” are called “slippers”. The term most likely evolved from the Japanese term geta, which roughly translated means sandals. And, on casual Fridays, we do occasionally wear dressier slippers which are made out of leather.

    Here in Hawaii we have “Aloha Friday”. Aloha Friday means Aloha shirts for men and it used to mean muu-muus for ladies. What a trade-off. The men get to wear comfortable shirts and no necktie but the ladies still have to wear dresses, slips and pantyhose. The only difference is that the dress is shapeless. Casual Friday is supposed to mean comfortable clothes. Given a choice, most women would choose jeans over pantyhose.

    I do agree that if you job involves contact with clients, then common sense should prevail in your choice for casual office wear. But, if you’re a clerk who works in the back office, I don’t see any problem with jeans.

  18. I have worked in an office environment since I was 18 and have watched the dress codes change. At my first job, I could only wear dresses and skirts. Then, same job, we were allowed nice pant suits and / or pants and blouse or sweater. Then a few years later, same job, we were in jeans and nice tops. Since then I could wear jeans to every job as long as they were not torn. Now, in my current job (a family owned and operated business) I am the only person who NEVER wears shorts, tanks and yes, flip flops. My boss, a woman, walks around with her shoes off and sometimes, get this, unhooks her bra (not a pretty picture) this is ONE thing I will never get used to. I actually like wearing jeans, when you sit all day in an office with a warehouse, they are sooooo comfortable and easy to wash and NOT iron.

  19. I live and work in Milwaukee – WISCONSIN……………………

    The Winters are very long and cold up here. Women in the office have been sitting around all Winter – fattening up for the Spring Slaughter.

    When the Summer weather arrives – these ladies are HUGE !!!!!

    Please do not undress or uncover – or unveil anything.

    There are three women in my office that have “Rolls on their Neck “.

    Fat is not something any men wants to look at 40 hours per week.

    • Issues of professional dress codes aside, women aren’t at work for you to look at, they’re at work to work. So don’t look. Problem solved.

    • Jim, I am a woman living in the south, I am fat… at least 70 lbs too much!!!

      Thank you! I would personally support laws that would require those of us that are overweight to never wear sleeves shorter than to the elbow and pants must always reach the knee. Unless you are at the beach. Then the law would demand a one piece with the midriff completely covered.

      If you have arms like Michelle Obama, great! Otherwise ladies – keep the fat covered up. It’s disgusting and putridly unprofessional. This includes fat that is only in its 20′s – skin tight shirts on a 5’6″ size 16 body is also disgusting.

  20. I agree with quidelines in this article. I work in a professional real estate office and although many work in “back offices” wearing flip-flops, capris and t-shirts and do not interact with clients, they do walk by the clients in the waiting area or conference room. I have no problem with snappy causal wear, it’s the look that you should be carrying a beach umbrella that embarrasses me while I’m in a conference with high-profile clients. Some in my office truly believe they are at the beach, remove their flip-flops and walk barefoot throughout the office. There is casual and there is downright sloppiness!

  21. Hey, just needing some appropriate clothing suggestions for working in a warehouse with bad ventilation. On a 90 degree day, temperatures can reach almost 103 degrees in the warehouse, but clients, vendors, and our CEO love to make surprise visits. I’m a female that works with dirty products often having to climb into racks and onto skids to retrieve parts, not to mention cycle counts, so I don’t think dresses or flimsy shirts are going to work well.

    Any suggestions would be awesome.

    • Hiking clothes? A lot of outdoor/sports gear companies now make nicer-looking clothing that is still wrinkle/sweat/dust resistant and breathable.

    • I did a fair amount of summer global warming focussed environmental field work at a government lab, so we were outdoors a lot in elevated temperature chambers when the air itself was already over 100 but still had to transition back to the lab/office environment before and after.

      Would light khaki type materials work? Maybe not a coverall like Rosie the Riveter, but we had a two piece set that effectively reminded me of that. It was durable, light enough for the heat, and not atrocious to wear in a more lab/office environment.

      Then again, science is a lot more casual.

  22. In this day and age real professional attire is only required in certain professions. Most of the time the unwritten dress code is nice casual. I have worked in a number of offices in 35+ years and have seen “casual Fridays” go from relaxed nice casual to T-shirts and flip-flops. I currently work for a church so one has to watch what one wears, again, usually nice casual. The priests of course have to wear their suits with their collars. But I agree, office attire needs to be appropriate even if casual. And it DOES matter how one looks at the workplace AND how one presents. BOTH are important and go hand in hand. People often look like their parents didn’t teach them how to wear clothes that are not wrinkled, with holes, and enough to cover private body parts! And please don’t get me started about the wet hair…groom yourselves at home and make it look like you care about yourself! Slob isn’t chic!

    • I am amazed at how naive some people can be. Just because someone puts on a suit and tie, or looks really polished doesn’t mean they automatically are. Unfortunately, that’s how superficial our society has become, and too many equate someones appearance with their character, work ethic, you name it. It’s easy to “talk to talk” or “look the part”. It’s much harder to actually “walk the walk”.

      Many years ago, I flew to Dallas for a job interview at an IT company. I wore my best suit and tie, and managed not to look like a sweaty, disheveled wreck when I got there (it was 103 degrees when I landed). The company I was interviewing with had a very casual dress code (jeans, t-shirts, sneakers or flip-flops) so I stood out like a sore thumb. At one point during the day, the person that was interviewing me decided to cut it short after 5 minutes saying, “you look like you’d be better off interviewing for the business side of this company. You don’t look technical.”. Long-story short, I did get offered the job based on the fact that I AM EXTREMELY technical and know my stuff.

      Since that day, I have never worn a suit and tie to another job interview. The only exceptions being where the daily dress code required it (yes, there are companies out there that still want the monkey suit 5 days a week). I dress appropriately (that’s the key), and it’s never been an issue.

      • I agree that our society has become way too superficial, equating someone’s appearance with his or her work ethic and character.

        I also would rather deal with someone who is dressed comfortably (and therefore more relaxed and able to project confidence in who they are) than deal with someone all dressed up with nothing to show for it – in terms of job knowledge or comfort with themselves.

        I would give so much to be able to dress in jeans and tennis shoes at work. I have so much more energy and stamina that my employer gets twice the “bang for his buck” on those days. Unfortunately, the decision was recently made to take away even the one day we had (Fridays) of casual dress. It is so unfortunate and so unwise to have to have had this decision implemented.

  23. Does anyone know how the people at Google dress like, or the company of Facebook? Billion dollar companies, hugely successful all done in shorts and flip flops. It’s not about how you dress, it’s how you approach clients. With a great attitude and service, you can never fail. I would much rather deal with someone who is extremely helpful and understanding wearing flip flops than someone who is wearing a suit and tie and is not as knowledgeable or helpful.

  24. I work in a men’s prison, so picking out what to wear to work on a hot day takes forever…lol No dresses above the knee, no bare shoulders, no see thru shirts, cleavage, etc. Shoes must be securely fastened to the feet. I would iove to wear a dress everyday!!

  25. I just started working my first non-corporate job, it’s very laid back, we wear jeans, capri’s flip flops, sandles you name it. I love it!

  26. I clicked on this article because I work at a bank(my first real job) and I wanted some pointers on how to dress appropriately. I’ve just got to say how much I disagree completely with the commenters that think flip-flops and the like, are acceptable in a professional setting. Maybe in some small shop, business or something like that you could wear whatever you wanted and there wouldn’t be much of a problem. Seriously, if any of you went to a bank, saw two bankers, one dressed in nice, sharp clothes, and the other looked like a surfer dude in shorts and sandals, which one would you go to?? I’m guessing ya’ll would choose the one that looks professional. Also, the article was explicitely referring to wardrobe for professional office settings. Just saying.

  27. Buck up is all I can say. I began my working career in Manhattan in 1973.
    Hot is not the word for the subway. No such thing as air conditioning. We wore dresses w/jackets and panty hose/garter belts. High heels or at least short pumps and walked down under two layers of the city streets. The fellows had to wear vests! Three pieces were required year round. This was allllll over Manhattan. We managed. The fellows left their ties off and vests over their shoulders. Women carried their jackets (or wore the ones in the office). This was even before the walking shoe to work. I personally walked 37 city streets to work and over two avenues each morning and night all four seasons for 17 years.

    After the blackout the walking shoes or sneakers were seen.

    It was only after this baby generation got in charge that all decor went down the tubes. What a lovely bunch of people walking the streets now.

    When I wanted a new style, I’d ride the bus across town and check out the pretty women walking in the streets.

    Not a chance now. All I see are fat bellies and tats. I’d go broke now riding the bus looking for a pretty person.

    Get up off your duff and have some stamina.

    Babies babies babies!!!!

    • So…this is your version of the old chestnut, “When I was a child, I walked 5 miles in the snow to school, uphill, both ways!” Maybe it’s you who needs to stop whining. Fashion changes and, although most workplaces are not an acceptable venue for the latest “club fashions,” many of us manage to present ourselves professionally within the boundaries of “workplace casual” dress. Unless you’re in management, you can hardly ever go wrong with well-pressed khakis or a skirt and a pressed button-down or polo-style shirt. If that offends you, then the problem is with you…not me.

  28. I’m 30, but I work in a stodgy field. As a lawyer, I wear a jacket every day that I will meet a client or opposing counsel. I wear a suit if I will be in court or in some other official setting. I never wear shorts, t-shirts or jeans — I think my boss would go off the deep end if I did. I wear a lot of professional-looking dresses. Everything is modestly cut. I can’t even wear peep-toe shoes and must wear stockings in court. (Ugh.) I try to be interesting within these boundaries by wearing unique (non-flashy) jewelry and colorful pieces. It’s all I can do not to feel boring and old.
    But I make a point of dressing up, especially because of my age and, to some degree, my gender. Like it or not, our appearances necessarily contribute to others’ first impressions of us. I need judges to hear me, opposing counsel to take me seriously, and my clients to follow my advice. They all need to know that I can play the game and that I know what I’m talking about; I won’t let my clothes suggest otherwise. I need to be an authority figure. The way we address conveys how we expect others to treat us. Especially for women, attire conveys respect for oneself. It’s all well and good to lament how unfortunate this is, but that doesn’t change the fact that others whose opinions we must value to get ahead are taking into account our appearance.

  29. My pet peeve is women who wear necklines that expose inches of cleavage. So not appropriate in a business setting! Also on my list: flip-flops and other similar footwear that goes thwack-thwack-thwack; casual capris that end up looking like you’re ready to do some yardwork; and I’m sorry, but pairing a professionally stylish business suit (jacket and skirt or dress and jacket) with bare legs just looks tacky…

  30. When an employer says you can’t wear jeans, it leaves it open to interpretation. The term jeans usually refer to blue jeans. However, jeans of any color are (usually) denim.

    To some people, “no jeans” translates to no denim.

    Employers don’t elaborate on that part of their dress code.

    Even though I agree that you are working, not modeling at a fashion show, I would like to know the opinions out there and maybe how to address it with the employer.

  31. Pingback: Are shorts at work ever appropriate? No one can decide. : The Work Buzz

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  38. Pingback: 6 guidelines for your summer work wardrobe | The Fashions Blog

  39. When it is hot out side I think that wearing shorts is appropiate in any situation. I work in construction and the company allows those that drive un-airconditioned trucks to wear them, but won’t let anyone else, and I don’t think that is a fair decision. I happen to drive an air conditioned truck, but I don’t like to freeze either so I would prefer instead to wear shorts, and because I am comfortable wearing them. I also don’t agree with the long length that most guys wear them, why does everyone seem to have a problem with guys wearing shorts anyway? I do think though that if you are working in an office why would you need to wear them anyway? Most office buildings have AC. Where I work there is no written rule about shorts, but the bosses get real adament about anyone wearing them which I have a hard time with due to the fact that a verbal rule can not be enforced, and the rule book does say wear appropiate clothing for the weather (what they don’t say is; as long as it is not shorts. how stuffy of them). So yes, by all means wear shorts as long as you don’t look like you are about to hit the beach.

  40. The answers to the questions above are very simple. You dress for the occassion. If you work in the surf apparel industry it is not only acceptable to wear shorts and sandals, it’s the norm. You would be totally out of dress if you wore three piece suit and tie.

    If you are an attorney presenting a case in a court the establishment of business attire is the norm and anything other would seem to be in appropriate.

    If you work in a tennis retail store, warm ups or tennis shorts make total sense. Would you feel comfortable purchasing a tennis racquet from a salesperson in a three piece suit?

    How about buying a surfboard from Mr. GQ in a three piece suit.

    I personally feel more comfortable going to see my Dr. when he comes out in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, as long as I see all of those degrees on the wall.

    What works in California or Florida might not work in Boston but just dress for the occassion.

  41. Pingback: Quiz: Is your work wardrobe summer-appropriate? | The Work Buzz

  42. hey Kaitlin hows it goin’. terrific? awsome? ama’ing?   Ever notice how Gen-y kids put an
    apostrophe in words like important?  “impor’a(nt)”  Finally figured out it is imitation of the annoying briitish announcers and things creeping in.  Speaking of..Great advice on flip-flops, but they did not “transpire into”.  How about ‘Morphed”?  its slang-y too but something which transpires, just plain happened. Any other grammar/semantics/vocabulary curmudgeons out there?  Great advice tho’..right on about the clothes.  And if a boomer ever has authority fat chance–flipp-ers just make me uncomfortaable!  Like is she going to fall down? stub toe?get it caught under something?

  43. Pingback: The Only Guide You Need for The Best Summer Ever | Goedeker's Home Life

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