How to Dress for an Arctic Office

Recently several clients and friends have asked me how to deal with dressing in the summer with the vastly varying temperatures either going from:

-Arctic office conditions to sweltering desert heat outside or
-Starting the day off at a cool 65°F in the morning with the mercury rising to 95°F in the afternoon.

While we’ve all heard that layering is crucial especially in Colorado, it can often be a bit of a nebulous concept that usually brings winter sports to mind versus dressing for an office day, out and about seeing clients, or even keeping up with the kids.

In this post I’ll give you a few ideas for layering in the office. In my next post, we’ll talk about layering for business casual and casual environments.

If your office is extremely frigid due to air conditioning that just won’t quit, (why they can’t get a handle on this in 2010 I’ll never know,) start each day with either a camisole or tank top. These aren’t your weekend/work out pieces, because depending on how insanely hot it is outside you may be stripping down to this layer at some point. (Keeping this in mind, always be conscious of your bra straps.)

Next add a cotton or silk knit shell, a short sleeved or sleeveless cotton blouse or if it’s extra cold in your office, you can go with a long sleeved blouse.

Your next layer is a cardigan. Again, depending on how cold your office is, choose the fiber accordingly. (I once had a desk in an office that was right underneath an a/c vent that never shut off. I was in Southern California and wore cashmere all summer long!)

Finally, your last layer is a jacket, either part of your suit or coordinating fun jacket. If you work in a casual environment that doesn’t always require a jacket, consider keeping a jacket or two in neutral colors in your office, so you’re ready for a “freeze out” at any time.

If a cardigan underneath your jacket in the summer seems like too much, choose ¾ sleeved knit tops and blouses (preferably in light colors,) and add a scarf when you feel the chill. It’s amazing how a lightweight scarf can warm you up, not to mention how chic you’ll look!

You may choose to stick to pants if your legs can’t handle the air conditioning. Another alternative is to look for matched suits that include both the pants and the skirt. Keep the third piece in the office for times when you need to cool down or warm up. (This may seem like a lot of changing, but it could seriously be the answer for some of you.)

All of these layers give you plenty of options for adding and shedding pieces. You might have all of the pieces on inside and dwindle down to the tank for an al fresco lunch or afternoon commute. Should the air conditioning actually turn off for a while in your office, you may wish to lose the cardigan, and blouse and wear the camisole alone under you jacket. (At all costs, I never recommend bare arms in the office.)
Two last tips, be sure to accessorize to look polished, especially when you’re on the exposed side. And don’t forget a large tote bag or hangers to keep your clothing neat and wrinkle free.

I hope all of these ideas are helpful! Let me know. Would you layer like this? Do you have pieces that will work together for layering? I’d love to hear your comments!

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