What to wear for the dog days of summer

It’s no secret… it’s HOT outside! Now, let me share a secret. Some days when it’s really hot, and I’m trying to decide what to wear for work, I stand in front of my closet thinking, “All I really want to wear is a pair of shorts, a tank top, and sandals.”  Since I’m a professional image consultant, this isn’t a reality. And it’s probably not going to work for you either, so I’ve put together some great tips for what to wear to the office to beat the summer heat and still dress professionally. 

The first thing to do when deciding how to dress in these “dog days of summer” is to consult your company’s dress code. Unfortunately, many of the dress codes are a bit nebulous these days, so your next strategy is to “Follow the Leader.” Look to executives, mid-level managers and other authority figures in your industry, and take your cue from their mode of dress.



It can be easy to get in the habit of reaching for that same pair of pants or jacket year ‘round, and I completely believe in having 3 season basics, but when the thermometer reads “hot, hot, hot,” lighter colors are the way to go. Light colors are much cooler than dark colors. Think of tan, khaki, off white/winter white, or pure white for your suiting and basics.


Fabrics  also make a huge difference in keeping you cool. Look for cotton, and cotton blends, structured linen, silk, and tropical weight wool.

Natural fibers like these are getting harder and harder to find (especially the blends,) so when you find them, be sure to snatch up styles you like!

Breezy styles

Staying cool is all about air circulation and doesn’t necessarily mean automatically going more casual. If you’re tired of being hot and want to maintain your professionalism, take these suggestions into consideration—even if they’re not your norm.

Skirts will give you lots of ventilation! An A-line skirt or full skirt will be cooler than a structured pencil skirt (not to mention you can probably skip the Spanx!) Solid colors are less likely to scream “picnic” than bright prints, especially if you work in a conservative office, i.e. law, accounting, etc. Knee length and midi-length will always be the most appropriate for the office. (You can often get away with a little bit of a shorter length if you’re petite.)

Dresses are super comfy when it’s sweltering! A tailored dress is an easy alternative to separates! Short sleeved and ¾ length sleeved shirtdresses made in firm fabrics, i.e. not too gauzy, are a great choice as well. Classic sleeveless sheath dresses that you can pop a jacket over are a great look for a more traditional, professional environment.

Wide leg pants are breezier and less constricting than trousers or slim pants. I particularly love rayon wide leg pants. And although printed wide leg pants are everywhere, solids are probably your better friends for the office. If you do choose a print, make sure it isn’t too pajama-like.

Sleeveless blouses…when I first began my image consulting career, I was trained that going sleeveless was taboo for professional dress. It’s not that way as much these days (except for important meetings.) However, note that I said blouses, not t-shirts or tank tops—they’re simply not as professional. Plus there are many beautiful sleeveless blouses out there! Just make sure they’re not cut in too much at the shoulders for the most professional look.

Jackets aren’t necessarily the first thing we think of when it’s hot weather, but even so, they elevate the look of your outfits in all weather. As I mentioned above, natural fabrics are especially key for jackets. If you can find one unlined, for a more business casual look, or lined with a natural fiber, you’ll be that much cooler as you’re looking fabulously professional!

Although summer is hot, and playtime is so alluring, following these tips can help you feel fresh, and help you maintain your professional look you worked so hard on all winter, spring and fall. Sending out non-verbal messages through your image that you’re serious and ready to do business even in the sweltering heat can give you the confidence and professional edge that will help you be even more successful.

If you’d like help putting together a breezy, professional, summer wardrobe, contact me to discuss the package that’s right for you.

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