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Baby, It’s Hot Outside – Look Professional While Staying Cool

Guest Post by Kristyn Schiavone

On most of you, this dress will end up at knee-length. Pair it with classic, closed-toe pumps and you'll stay cool and professional. Photo courtesy of LOFT

This summer has been a scorcher and that’s made getting dressed for work more challenging than ever.  We’re thrilled to bring you a guest post from Kristyn Schiavone, author of Career Chic for Young Professionals: A Simple Style Guide. who offers great advice to keep you looking fresh, and a little cooler, through the remaining months of Summer.

When the weather is unreasonably toasty, flip-flops, tank tops, shorts, sundresses, miniskirts and printed T’s are standard weekend attire, but think twice before wearing them to the office. While young professionals can get away with a more modern workplace style, we cannot show up as though we’ve taken a wrong turn on the way to the booze cruise, no matter how high the temperature climbs.

Luckily, both men and women have fashion secret weapons to carry them through the dog days of summer looking smart and chic.

Men: The Summer-Weight Suit

Even The New York Times has recently waxed poetic about the summer-weight suit, and with good reason. Suits get really hot and uncomfortable, but this year, the less expensive, lighter (in fabric and color) suit has reached ubiquity.

When it comes to fabric, cotton, lightweight wool and linen blends are all great choices. Never go with straight linen, though, because you’ll be impossibly wrinkled by the end of the day – an instant way to look less than capable. For colors, try khaki or light gray, as lighter hues absorb less heat. Finish off the look with a collared shirt, also in a light color, a tie with a bright pattern, and a pair of bucks. Bucks are great summer dress shoes, slightly more casual than oxfords but slightly dressier than boat shoes, and they come in a variety of colors.

Women: The Sheath Dress

Ladies, stow those black trousers. A fitted, knee-length sheath dress, sometimes known as a suiting dress, in one of the lightweight fabrics I mentioned for the guys will be so much more comfortable in hot weather. As a bonus, it will probably look more pulled-together than plain old trousers and a button-down, too.

As you’re shopping, take care that the dress fits you, but isn’t too tight. If your office is fairly conservative, it should be short-sleeved, but if you’re positive that sleeveless is fine, make sure the neckline is high and most of your shoulders are covered. Instead of black, try a brighter color that you wear well or a different neutral shade. Pair your dress with pumps or flats and a structured bag.

One mistake that women tend to make in the summer is wearing thin, clingy fabrics that are either see-through or show everything, like the jersey used for most wrap dresses. A suiting dress stays office-appropriate and beats the heat at the same time, and it’s also less likely to show sweat.

Not only are these ensembles great for the office, but they make good interview attire too. True, traditional wisdom says you should always wear a classic black suit. But for recent graduates who are job hunting on a budget and really going hard with the applications and interviews during the few months after school ends, summer suits for guys and suiting dresses for gals look sharp and save cash. Just don’t forget to iron your clothes, comb your hair, and print your resumes, and you’ll be set to impress.

And when it comes to your office wear, never be afraid to show a little personality. Companies want young candidates who bring fresh ideas, so whether you’re interviewing or on the job, showing a bit of who you are in the way you dress makes a positive impression.

Kristyn Schiavone is the author of Career Chic for Young Professionals: A Simple Style Guide, which helps men and women who are just starting out in their careers navigate the challenging world of workplace attire. She also writes the syndicated column “Simple Style” for Tribune Media Services. Learn more about Kristyn or get information about purchasing her book at SimpleStyleAdvice.com, and please connect with her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone, because she would love nothing more than to give you outfit pointers.

Photo is courtesy of

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