what not to wear in summerDon’t ruin your promotion prospects at work this summer!

However much you love your job or running your own business it can be tough to stay motivated when the temperature rises and the temptation is to take a day out on the beach or soaking up the sun in the garden!  Looking professional and keeping cool in hot weather can be a challenge particularly if you have to travel by public transport and endure the agonies of overcrowded trains and the underground!   To pile on the misery many of us suffer from fluid retention in the heat causing ankles, feet and hands to swell so that our clothes and shoes tend to feel tight and uncomfortable.  If you’re hot and bothered it’s really tempting to keep your clothes loose and casual – dressing smartly and taking a more formal approach seems to be too much hassle.  Others have started the trend to dress down and the temptation is to just follow them.  A word of warning – don’t!  Instead take a look at my handy tips to solve those summer work wear dilemmas.

1. Is it okay to wear flip flops?

In a word ‘no’ – it just says you don’t really care about your job.  Flip flops are for evenings, weekends and holidays!      Be guided by your workplace as to whether open toed shoes or sandals are really acceptable and if they are then great.  But ensure your feet are buffed and your toenails polished to perfection before you bare them to work colleagues. If you work in a formal environment it’s much better to stick to court shoes.  Showing your toes may be seen that your standards are dropping.  The chances are that the offices will be air conditioned and someone will have turned the air-con up to deep freeze levels so that sandals will leave your feet in the cold!

2. What about baring the flesh?

Depends what you mean!  But if you’re asking the question then the answer is probably no! Higher hemlines, lower necklines and sheer material are probably not the greatest way to secure a pay rise or promotion!  The men might like it but it doesn’t do much for your reputation as a professional.   Sheer blouses are fine but you should wear a camisole underneath which may defeat the object of keeping cool as you’re adding another layer. Looser fit clothing will be more comfortable than tight fitting garments particularly if you tend to suffer from swollen limbs in the heat.  If your body shape means loose clothing doesn’t work and you need more structure then chose natural fabrics rather than synthetics. Alternatively you could wear a belt with a loose fit dress to give some structure to your body shape, just don’t wear a very thick or tight belt.

Here’s a summary of the best dress styles for each of the five different body shapes

  • Apple Body Shape – the best style dress for apple shape is an A line dress which will draw attention away from your tummy.  This pretty blue cotton dress is a good example.
  • Pear Shaped Body – you can find it quite difficult to find dresses that work for you which fit your bust and shoulders, and work for your hips.  Very often you will find separates an easier option.  But the best dresses for pear shapes are either an Empire Line or Wrap Dress.
  • Hourglass Body – You’ll look great in dresses to show off your curves and while most dress shapes will work for you the most flattering is a wrap dress.  This might be too warm in the summer so be careful that the material is not too heavy.
  • Athletic Body Shape – If you have an athletic body shape you’ll look fabulous in a princess dress shape that will create the illusion of curves but show off your lovely slender body.   An Empire line dress will also look good on you.
  • Inverted Triangle Body Shape – you will look fabulous in either a shift dress, which is one of the perfect shapes for summer, being loose but still with a structure or an a line dress which will create curves.

3. Don’t go overboard on colour!

Again depending on your work environment overdoing the bold and bright may have some of your colleagues reaching for their shades! Balance bright colours with neutral accessories to tone down the effect.   Alternatively wear a neutral top with a bright coloured skirt or vice versa.

4. Can I do sleeveless?

Yes in most offices this is perfectly acceptable.  A bold sleeveless top with a striking necklace will look smart and professional, particularly with toned arms!  Wear natural silk or crisp light cotton.  However, sleeveless doesn’t mean camisole or spaghetti straps again you’re in danger of just looking over casual.  You can only get away with this approach if you wear a jacket or cardigan and it remains on all day long!

5. Brighten and Lighten the Accessories

If your favourite handbag for the office is a dark or dull colour, swap it out for something bright.  Alternatively depending on your colour palette go for a light neutral shade such as grey or beige.  Dark colours will look out of place with light summer fabrics, not just the colour but the lighter texture

6. Can I do shorts or skorts?

If you work in some environments shorts are okay for office wear, but ensure they are tailored and smart.  Wearing with at least a low heel will be a lot smarter than wearing with pumps or flats.  But some offices shorts are an absolute no go area.  You can always slip a pair in your handbag if you’re heading out after work.  Simply tuck your skirt or trousers in to your bag or leave them in the office until the following day!

7. What about maxi dresses

In some work environments a summer maxi will work, providing it is not too casual or bohemian for the office.  If you have to use the stairs a lot then a maxi dress can be a trip hazard and a midi dress might be a better idea.   Just be careful if you have short legs, a midi dress is not likely to be your best friend

8. Tights are just too hot

Absolutely agree with that one unless you’re in the deep freeze air conditioning zone.  Stockings are definitely cooler than tights. Alternatively you can buy ‘spray on tights’ products which you simply apply in the morning and wash off in the evening.    Another option would be to use a fake tan product but make sure you exfoliate first and practise!

9. A word of advice about heels

You may be passionate about wearing heels and not feel dressed without them, but many people suffer swollen ankles and feet in the warmer weather.  Wearing high heels will just put more pressure on your feet and make the problem worse.   Shoes will probably feel uncomfortable and straps will dig in to your flesh.  This doesn’t look great and you’ll just be uncomfortable! Best of luck for keeping your cool this summer! feet-657207_1280