When the weather gets warm out, your casual outfits change drastically. Jeans becomes shorts, sweaters become T-shirts, and boots turn into boat shoes.
But if you work in a business casual (or even more formal) office, there’s just seemingly no way to adapt your outfit to beat the heat — you’ll still need to trudge to work wearing the same long sleeve collared shirts and chino pants as the previous seasons.
But that doesn’t mean you need to suffer — for style or for heat exhaustion. It’s not about what you can get away with, it’s about what will put you in a position to be most successful.
The ideal summer business casual outfit in the summer invokes two main traits:
- It uses lightweight fabrics so as to not make long sleeves and pants unbearable in the humidity and heat.
- It doesn’t look out of place with summer’s intrinsically more laid back vibe.
Let’s take it from the top.
Jacket: We recommend completely forging in the summer. If you don’t need it for work purposes, you should just shed it.
If you absolutely do need it, get one in a super-breathable fabric like linen that will feel like it’s barely there.
Shirt: Lightweight dress and collared shirts (like this one from J. Crew) will be your friend this summer. They’re breathable, they won’t cause you to sweat unnecessarily, and they will keep you looking smart. They come in summer-friendly patterns that will look right at home in your office, as well as happy hour drinks.
How can you tell if a shirt is lightweight? Usually, stores sell shirts in summer-ready patterns and colours in lighter weights by default. Look for linen-cotton blends and gingham, and you’ll likely be set.
We love patterns like gingham and windowpane in bright, colour-friendly colours.
Pants: Let’s get this out of the way: no you can’t wear shorts to work. Don’t even try it. Well, you can try it, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.
Like shirts, you’ll be looking for a lighter weight option (like this one from Club Monaco). The areas that pants cover may not be
Socks: Depending on your office, recommended but not completely necessary. You may be able to get away with not wearing them. Whichever way you go, you should still wear still wear socks, just ones that are practically invisible like loafer socks.
Shoes: Low loafer style shoes are becoming very common in offices nowadays, and who are we to buck a trend? They’re acceptable in most business casual environments today, even if a traditional etiquette expert might call them unwelcome.
Other than that, suede, brogued, and colourful (light tan, navy, etc) shoes are all acceptable and encouraged in the summer.
Because of the nature of these clothing items, they are not suited to other times of year. Unfortunately for your wallet, however, that means you’re going to need dedicated summer wear that you won’t wear the other three seasons.
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