Summer Work Attire that Won't Smother You

Lightweight layers keep things simple and chic

Working in an office in July and August typically means you're preparing to work in an office that's 72 degrees while temperatures outside may approach the mid-90s. Layering with light and/or bright colors is the best way to both feel comfortable and look good.

Start with the best basics: Crisp white T-shirts, tan/navy/white dress pants, a pencil skirt in the same color(s), and neutral-colored pumps. Huge sales are taking place now, so if you need to stock up on these basics, head to the Natick Mall. Several stores carry all of these items, but if you want to hit one for everything, we encourage Nordstrom (BP makes good quality layering T's in tank or crew neck; Theory pants are a splurge but look great and will last for years; Steve Madden and Ivanka Trump make nice knock-off neutral pumps).

To complement the basics, we suggest cropped or long lightweight cardigans; fitted blazer(s); a to-the-knee A-line or tiered print skirt; a bright silk or linen scarf; and chunky, colorful jewelry.

Banana Republic is having a 40 percent off sale, and has multiple choices for cardigans – from long and buttoned to cropped and open. The belted, wrapped cardigan in soft grey would look terrific with a white crew-neck T, navy slacks and a chunky sterling necklace or cuff bracelet. Nordstrom has the best selection of blazers – from less expensive ones in the Juniors department to high-end St. John knit blazers at up to 65 percent off. And if you're in the mall, head to Anthropologie for a great selection of print swing skirts and unique colorful jewelry.

For the office, we're not fans of over-doing the prints or jewelry, but one item worn with the basics looks professional and unique.

We frequently get the question from clients about whether nylons need to be worn in the summer. Since we don't think skirts above the knee look professional (or frankly that good on anyone over about 24 years old), we think you can leave the nylons behind. A similar question is whether flip-fops can be worn on “business casual” days. In a word: No. Keep those for getting from your car to the office door, then change into neutral, open-toe wedges if you want a more casual shoe.

For men, it’s always best to keep it basic and simple. Although few and far between during summer months, there are those jobs that are conservative and a suit is still required. In this case, a solid year-round-weight suit in navy or light gray with a crisp white shirt always looks great. If you have the option to throw in some color, a summer tie can jazz up the look. For men who don’t have to wear a suit, choose medium-weight, flat-front, no-cuff slacks with a pressed button-down (our strong preference over the golf shirt and khakis). A French cuff sleeve always adds something extra and lets you have fun with all the different cuff links that are available.

Etsy.com has loads of unique cuff links, which can be a great conversation-starter in a business meeting.

Nordstrom mens department is having its half yearly sale right now and you can find some wonderful pieces at bargain prices. Some of our favorite mens shirts, which can be worn for both work and casual events, include Peter Millar, Faconable, Thomas Dean and Nordstrom's own brand (made in different cuts depending on body type). If you prefer custom-made clothes at a reasonable price, we highly recommend J. Hillburn. Finally, don’t forget to finish the look with a nice belt and pair of loafers; the two should work together, not contrast one another.

Enjoy summer in New England!


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