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It Can be Done! Dressing for Work and Summer

GovFem_FinalThere aren’t a ton of professional, work-place issues in which women currently have a clear advantage. (We’re trying to change that, which is why we have GovFem!) However, when it comes to getting dressed for a 100-degree workday, we are the clear winners. In most professional settings, men have to wear pants and a button-down, maybe even a full suit, every day. Thankfully, we have more options. Skirts, dresses, and about 50 different types of blouses make it a little easier to dress for the heat.

However, that flexibility can be a double-edged sword. How do you dress appropriately while staying comfortable in the heat? How do you transition from the humid outdoors to the A/C -blasting office? How do you fight those pesky sweat stains?

Honestly, I’m no expert. So instead of telling you what I think, I asked other professional women from across sectors and office dress codes to tell us their go-to tips and tricks for surviving summer. Here are those tips:

Caroline
Office Dress Code: Business Casual
Tip #1: I like the rule of thumb for dressing like a French woman, which I picked up from Cupcakes and Cashmere—the shorter the hemline, the shorter the heel!
Tip #2: Particularly during breezy days, you might want to wear something under your cute, flowy skirt to avoid any mishaps. I wear bike shorts, because they’re comfortable but fitted. They also prevent chafing!

Hannah
Office Dress Code: Business Casual
Tip: Stock your desk with emergency supplies to keep your wardrobe fresh. Wrinkle releaser is a savior for sweaters, etc. that you carry rather than wear to work. Dryer sheets can get rid of static in an instant. And of course, keep deodorant handy for when you get a little too hot on your walk to work.

Shannon
Office Dress Code: Casual
Tip: You know those toilet seat covers they provide in the bathroom? They work just as well as oil removal cloths (yes, like the ones you buy at the drugstore) at clearing up an oily face. Use them whenever you step in from the heat to get off the oil without losing all of your makeup. They’re also great for getting sweat stains out of clothes.

Julie
Office Dress Code: Business
Tip #1: What works for commuting in the summer usually won’t work for the Arctic air conditioning in the office, and sweating before 9am is not a great start to the day. Throw office-appropriate pants or a skirt in your bag, and wear shorts during your commute.
Tip #2: If you’re lucky enough that open-toed footwear is office appropriate, pedicures will make you look instantly more put together.  No need to splash out on a nail salon (I do these at home while watching Bravo), but well-filed, bright toenails are always a good bet.

Catherine
Office Dress Code: Business Casual
Tip #1: Even if your office allows sandals, don’t be fooled. Flip flops are never ok. If you like to walk into work with them, that’s fine. Just be sure to change into more appropriate shoes when you get there.
Tip #2: Similarly, never ever wear shorts. Ever.

Ellen
Office Dress Code: Business
Tip: Layers are your friend. People think that’s a tip for the fall or winter, but really it helps in the summer too. You can walk to work in spaghetti straps and sandals, and then layer up with a sweater and more appropriate shoes at the office. I always keep a cardigan, extra shoes, and a scarf at my desk.

Jennifer
Officer Dress Code: (Very) Casual
Tip: While it’s hot and humid here in DC, my office maintains arctic-level temperatures during the summer. To accommodate day-to-night plans (think: happy hour on the Georgetown waterfront), I like to look for light silk or loosely woven blouses in fun prints and pattens. Tucked into a skirt of paired with white jeans, full-length or three-quarter sleeves keep me comfortable indoors and out.

Emily
Office Dress Code: Business Casual
Tip: Always check your outfit in a well-lit room before committing. A lot of summer clothing is made from lighter material in order to make it more breathable. Unfortunately, that also means you run the risk of being able to see through your clothes when you don’t realize it. It doesn’t matter if you work in the most casual office in the world, it is not okay for others to see your undergarments! So double check the sheerness of your clothes before heading out.

Molly
Office Dress Code: Casual
Tip #1: Some people say to never show your shoulders at work. Honestly, that’s the safest option if you aren’t in a casual office. But if you do decide on a sleeveless top, make sure you can’t see your bra straps at all. Showing your straps is the quickest way to diminish a professional look.
Tip #2: Try not to dress head-to-toe in crazy prints or highlighter colors, but don’t be afraid to embrace bright colors and celebrate the season!

Caitlin
Office Dress Code: Casual
Tip: Keep your hair up, whenever you can! It makes you look super classy and it also helps with the heat. I use these ten easy styles all the time.

Ellen
Office Dress Code: Business
Tip: I don’t have a hard and fast rule about skirt length or strap width on shirts, but I’m a firm believer in balance. For instance, if you’re wearing a sleeveless shirt, pare it with dress pants instead of a skirt. Or if you’re wearing a fitted or shorter skirt, opt for a more conservative top. It’s okay to show a little more skin i the summer, but let’s no go overboard.

Carol
Office Dress Code: Casual
Tip: Wedges can be your downfall or your savior. On the one hand, they are so much more comfortable than normal high heels. On the other hand, you might be tempted to wear wedges that are way too high, simply because you can. Even though they’re easier to wear, the height of your wedge should never be more than the height of normal heels you would wear to work. I’d say about 3 inches is max.

How do you manage to stay put together for work during the sweltering summer months? Let us know your tips in the comments section below!

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