The ABCs of a Professional Summer Wardrobe
With the first official day of summer behind us, you may have started adapting your clothing choices to reflect the warmer weather. While the sun encourages us to shed our heavy winter and spring layers, it’s important to remember that dress codes and guidelines should be taken into consideration even in the summer months when styles tend to be more casual. If you are questioning how you should dress at work this summer, use the following summer wardrobe ABCs for reference.
A is for AM to PM
Summertime tends to be a very social time of year, making after work social events increasingly popular. As such, it is convenient to have clothing in your closet that can be worn to a meeting as well as happy hour with friends. Luckily, you can accomplish this by simply removing a blazer, changing shoes or adding statement accessories that are too flashy for the workplace (but perfect for an evening out).
B is for Bright
It’s summer and there’s colorful clothing and accessories everywhere! While there’s nothing wrong with infusing some fun colors into your work wardrobe, remember that an outfit that boasts several bright pieces may distract from your work. Since wearing your bright board shorts isn’t an option, a colorful accessory or top is the perfect way to add some summer flair to your outfit without becoming a distraction.
C is for Cool Comfort
Staying professional is important, but so is staying cool and comfortable during the summer months. As long as your work doesn’t dictate that you need to wear suits to work, you can trade in heavier materials for light and airy clothing that won’t make you sweat.
D is for Dress Code
Before making any wardrobe decisions this summer, take a look at your company’s dress code. Not only is it important to be aware of what clothing is acceptable, but reading your company’s dress code policies will also help you to avoid being taken aside by HR to talk about your choice in work attire.
E is for Eyewear
Do you find yourself placing your sunglasses on top of your head as you enter your office? Unless you are driving somewhere, this should be avoided since it gives a casual vibe and can make it appear that you are on your way out of the office.
F is for Footwear
As we transition from boot season to flip flop season, remember that the sight of toes (even those with fresh pedicures) is rarely acceptable in the workplace. Flip flops, sandals, and peep toed shoes are all in season right now, yet they aren’t typically appropriate in the workplace and should be reserved for evenings and weekends.
G is for Groomed
As the weather gets warmer, it can be tempting to channel your inner surfer and let your hair (and facial hair) go ungroomed. Maintain the impression of professionalism and stay clean cut throughout the summer.
H is for HR Approved
Are you worried that your new sleeveless blouse is too casual for the workplace or that your shorts aren’t appropriate for Casual Friday? When in doubt, reach out to your friendly HR manager to get a direct answer and avoid an uncomfortable conversation with them later.
I is for Industry Appropriate
Work attire can vary greatly depending on what industry you work in. During the summer, when lighter clothing is in style, it is important to know if your industry standard allows lighter material clothing in place of suits.
J is for Jackets
The Pacific Northwest is infamous for its fluctuating and unpredictable weather, so if you live in the Seattle area, you know that jackets are a must throughout the summer.
K is for Knee Length
It is standard in most industries that dresses or skirts are kept knee length or longer in the workplace. It is important to be aware of this standard as many choose to ditch pants in favor of cooler skirts or dresses during the summer.
L is for Light Layers
In Seattle, even our summer mornings tend to be pretty chilly and it can be easy to leave the house wearing clothes that you will regret wearing by midday. Remember to keep your layers light this summer to avoid overheating halfway through the workday.
M is for Midi
If you are a woman who wants to add skirts to your work wardrobe this summer, but are scared of the length being appropriate for the workplace, try a midi skirt. This is one trend that is appropriate for the workplace as the length falls midway down your shin.
N is for Neutrals
You can really never go wrong with neutral clothing in your wardrobe that takes you from season to season without having to completely revamp your closet.
O is for Opaque
Tis the season for light and breezy blouses, which can lead to some unfortunate wardrobe mishaps. Before wearing a new top, make sure to test it out in good lighting to ensure that it is opaque.
P is for Practical
What you wear to work should be practical for the season. For example, if you know that you will be outside during the day, avoid wearing a sweater and slacks. Think of your clothing choices as a mixture of fashion and practicality.
Q is for Quiet
Although jewelry is the perfect way to infuse some personality into your wardrobe, make sure that it isn’t noisy when you move to avoid distracting coworkers and clients. There’s nothing like the constant tinkering of jewelry to distract from a presentation or a meeting.
R is for Resist Rompers
Rompers are super trendy right now for men, women and children. What was once viewed as a style reserved for children under the age of three is now trendy for people of all ages, but unfortunately trendy doesn’t usually translate to work appropriate (unless you work in a more fashion forward industry or company).
S is for Sophisticated Staples
The key to any professional wardrobe is to have sophisticated staples that you can take from season to season. Ideally, you can wear the same pair of staple slacks from your winter wardrobe with a lighter material top to utilize what you already have in your closet.
T is for Tailored
Simply put, your clothes should fit you. Too big or too small, ill-fitting clothing can make you appear sloppy; as a result, if you are finding last year’s summer clothing doesn’t fit, take a trip to the tailor to ensure that your clothing fits and makes you look polished.
U is for Understated Accessories
In general, you should keep the accessories to a minimum and keep them somewhat understated during the workday. Make sure the focus is on your work, not your accessories.
V is for Versatile
Wear clothes that are appropriate for a day at your desk, lunch with the boss or meetings with clients. During the summer, the key to keeping your wardrobe versatile is light layers and jackets that can be removed or added as needed.
W is for Wrinkle Free
Keeping your clothes wrinkle free is crucial year round; however, it is increasingly important to check your shirts for wrinkles as there is a high probability that you will be removing your blazer or jacket as it warms up throughout the day, meaning those wrinkles will be on display.
X is for Xenial
As you are hosting work events or meetings with new clients, make sure that your wardrobe doesn’t make your guests feel uncomfortable. Keep your attire classy and appropriate for the occasion to make those around you feel at ease.
Y is for Yacht Attire
Unless you work in the boating industry, save your Sperry shoes and yacht attire for your weekends on the water. Unfortunately, they are too casual for the workplace; however, you may be able to show them off during the next Casual Friday (dress code permitting).
Z is for Zesty
With summer heating up, make sure that your layers are light enough that you don’t develop a zesty smell throughout the day due to perspiration… Your coworkers will appreciate it, trust me.
Along with keeping these ABCs in mind this summer, it is important to remember that above all, your clothes should be professional, follow your company’s dress code and be comfortable.