Hot desking: Summer workwear that will help you keep your cool in the office
Finding clothes that are stylish, office appropriate and heat resistant can get you hot under the collar
(Clockwise from left): Shirt dress, €99, Arket; Blazer, €79.99; Dress, €68, Topshop; Sandals, €148, Bimba y Lola; Suit trousers, €69.99, Mango; Courts, €69, Marks & Spencer
We’re not complaining (well not much) but warmer temperatures bring a whole new level of dressing dilemmas not to mention sticky sartorial situations. Summer-related wardrobe panic, especially when it comes to the workplace, is real. How do you keep cool under the collar while battling the heat outside and the chill of office air conditioning? And which outfits limit sweat patches but still look chic?
Surviving the heat in style isn’t something we’re well versed in as a nation. In short: dressing for the heat is usually not synonymous with dressing well. And while you may be able to assemble a summer holiday wardrobe with aplomb, finding outfits that can balance between stylish, office appropriate and heat resistant can be a challenge.
Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and muslin are your faithful day-long materials for warm-weather dressing but don’t always translate to the office. If you’re shopping for summer workwear, the pieces need to work even harder than what you wear poolside. They must look polished, not wrinkle, droop or be see-through. Nor should they cling, constrict, make you sweat or chafe.
While it’s easy to think loose layers are key, you still need a sense of smarter style and that’s when a belted shirt, dress or printed midi is perfect. Comfortable and easy. The brilliant thing about a midi dress is you can restyle it for each season, so it’s far from a one-hit wonder.
Ease and breeze
If you prefer to opt for separates, let the ease and breeze circulate with a pleated midi skirt, which also will maintain a sense of sophistication styled up with a short-sleeve blouse. Wide-leg trousers will also evoke that airy nine-to-five summer dressing.
A shirt, in either white or blue stripe, is a perennial workwear piece, but yours should have a tweak – a ruched sleeve, a frill or voluminous sleeve – to tow the line for the corporate dress code and still keep you cool.
If you want to look extra-smart, this is when a summer suit comes into play. It’s a great excuse to invest in the lighter, brighter colours that have been dominating the catwalks and the high street, breaking away from the boardroom blazers and dark colours. The alternative is smart, glamorous and comfortable. Think pastel pink, lilac, pistachio, sky blue and buttercup yellow and a wide range of leg lengths and widths.
To smarten the sweet-shaded summer suit up even further, pair with a crisp white shirt and loafers. To make it work double or even triple duty, pick a suit style that can be broken into separates – as a lightweight blazer over a midi dress or tailored trousers and T-shirt for a more casual office climate.
When it comes to office-appropriate footwear, flip-flops just won’t cut it, so opt for an enclosed-toe court in a sunny shade that will signal summer without any toes been revealed. An open-back mule, slip-on shoe or structured leather sandal brings ease and practicality while still remaining polished.
For men, the key to remaining stylish without wilting in the heat is all about updating a suit with relaxed tailored separates. A cotton, unstructured blazer should be your go-to – it’s unlined so lighter, breathable and versatile – and a cotton poplin shirt with a button-down collar is smart and simple enough for the office. Lightweight, loose, wool trousers in a cropped style are an airy option. If you must wear a suit, choose lightweight wool, linen or a cotton mix.
Finally, ditch the socks and lace-up bulky shoes for a less structured variety of shoe like a loafer that will be formal enough for the office.