As the mercury rises and the summer heat becomes relentless, dressing for the office can feel like a daunting task. Balancing professionalism and comfort in scorching temperatures requires a strategic approach to your work wardrobe — but embracing natural fabrics, understanding summer layering techniques, picking the right professional shoes for women for summer and getting some outfit inspiration is sure to help.
Embracing Natural Fabrics
When the summer heat is at its peak, selecting the right fabrics becomes essential. Natural materials are your best friend, as they’ll allow your skin to breathe, and offer better ventilation. Here are some of the best natural fabrics to incorporate into your hot-weather work wardrobe:
- Cotton: A classic choice, cotton is lightweight, breathable, absorbs moisture and dries quickly to keep you comfortable and cool during the hottest days.
- Linen: Known for its exceptional breathability, linen is a go-to fabric for summer. It’s lightweight, wicks away moisture and provides excellent airflow, making it perfect for articles like suits, blouses and skirts.
- Chambray: Similar to denim but lighter, chambray offers a casual yet polished look. It’s a breathable fabric that pairs well with various office staples, such as skirts, dresses and blazers.
- Silk: Luxurious and surprisingly versatile for summer, silk will help to regulate your body temperature and keep you cool in warm weather — all with a little added allure.
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Understanding Summer Layering
Layering may seem counterintuitive in the summer, but when done right, it will help you to manage temperature fluctuations throughout the day. Here are some of our favorite pieces to help you master the art of summer layering:
- Sheer Shirts: Opt for lightweight, sheer shirts in breathable fabrics like chiffon or organza. Pair them with a camisole or a tank top underneath for modesty while allowing air to circulate freely.
- Breathable Blazers: Swap heavy blazers for lightweight alternatives. Look for linen or cotton blazers that offer structure without compromising comfort. Choose light colors to reflect the sun, and embrace the bright light of summer through your style.
- Sleeveless Dresses: A sleeveless dress is a summer staple, but the coolness of air-conditioned offices can sometimes make it hard to embrace them. When used as a base layer and paired with something that you can easily remove when outdoors again, though, you’re sure to stay the perfect temperature all day.
- Breezy Skirts or Palazzo Pants: Opt for flowy skirts or wide-leg pants made from lightweight materials like chiffon, silk or cotton. These can be paired with airy blouses or sleeveless tops to create a comfortable and chic ensemble, as well as they can conceal a pair of tights for cooler mornings and evenings.
Now, let’s dive into some office-appropriate outfits based on the tips above to keep you looking and feeling cool during the summer heat.
1. Sophisticated Shift Dress
A knee-length shift dress in breathable cotton or linen is always a versatile option for the office. Choose a lightweight fabric in a vibrant color or a playful pattern, and pair it with closed-toe shoes or sandals, or peep-toe heels, for a polished yet perfectly comfortable look.
To keep it professional and keep your shift dress from shifting TOO much and showing too much skin, or soaking up too much sweat and getting uncomfortable, consider creating a base layer of biker shorts and a breathable sports bra.
2. Classic Linen Suit
A well-tailored linen suit is a summer power move. Opt for a slim-cut blazer and trousers in a light color such as beige, blush, pale gray, sky blue or sage green. Pair it with a breathable cotton blouse or a silk camisole, and complete the ensemble with pointed-toe flats or low-heeled sandals for a sophisticated touch.
3. Relaxed Culottes
Culottes offer a blend of style and comfort that works almost anywhere — especially when they’re done in a solid color. Choose a pair in a breathable fabric like cotton or chambray, pair them with a tucked-in lightweight blouse or a sleeveless top and finish with espadrille wedges or other fashionable and functional travel shoes for women, depending on just how summer-ready you want to look. From here, a short and lightweight cardigan will layer well over this look if needed.
4. Chic Wrap Dress
Wrap dresses are a timeless piece that flatters every body type and almost every environment. Opt for a midi-length wrap dress in a breathable fabric like cotton or silk. Choose a vibrant color or a fun print to add personality and a pop of the season’s signature brightness and pair it with classic peep-toe heels or flats for a sophisticated, feminine and fashionable look.
The airiness of this ensemble is sure to keep you cool, but the airiness of this outfit also means that appropriate layers are essential! Be sure to wear underwear with maximum coverage to reduce lines and avoid exposing too much skin if your dress happens to flare or open up more than planned, and a maximum coverage bra to provide support and (once again) avoid overexposing yourself if your dress slips too far.
5. Elegant Wide-Leg Pants
Wide-leg pants in lightweight and flowy fabrics like linen, cotton and silk are as fashionable as they are cool and comfortable — making them perfect for the workday. Pair them with a silk camisole, a sheer blouse or a simple long-sleeve top. Complete the ensemble with a sleek flat sandal, a kitten heel or a pair of wedges.
6. Effortless Jumpsuit
Jumpsuits are a stylish one-and-done option for summer workdays. Embrace them by choosing a lightweight fabric like chambray or cotton, finding a relaxed yet tailored silhouette and looking for quality construction. Accessorize with a statement belt and pair with open-toe sandals or mules for a chic, no-fuss outfit.
Along with being a no-fuss outfit all on its own, the jumpsuit is also incredibly easy to add layers underneath for chillier days. For instance, a pair of tights underneath a sleeveless jumpsuit will warm you on chillier days while still letting you rock the look, a long cardigan over top will keep you comfortable in cooler areas of the office and the right long sleeve underneath can completely recreate the look.
Creating Your Warm-Weather Work Wardrobe
Styling your professional outfits to work with the summer heat shouldn’t make you sweat. Embrace natural fabrics, master the art of summer layering and experiment with the six outfits above. Adapt them to your personal style, make them suit your professional image and, ultimately, ensure that you’re ready to conquer the workplace while beating the summer heat in style!