How to Look Professional in the Heat

Stay Prof in HeatStick to professional messages
Business is business; you have to look professional even when the heat is suggesting that fewer clothes are best. This is easier to do when you remember a few clothing rules that support a professional look.

What works: Solid colors are more professional than prints and three pieces are better than two. Enjoy the summer bright colors but in moderate doses. Consider wearing a taupe colored skirt or pant with a turquoise or coral sleeveless silk blouse and then add a linen blazer to the mix. Instead of wearing two pieces like a summer skirt and a blouse, try an ankle pant with a knit shell and a silk/linen blend cardigan with three-quarter length sleeves. You can even create a three-piece look with two clothing pieces and a prominent accessory. For instance, slip on a slim pencil skirt, tuck in a blouse that has sleeves and then add a wide belt. The belt is the defining piece that steps in as that third piece. Or wear a sleeveless solid-colored dress with a cardigan and add long layered pearls or metal chains as the third piece.

What doesn’t work: Avoid wearing patterns that are distracting. Simple floral prints, thin stripes or polka dots in neutral colors can work in the office. Save the wild prints for the weekend. Avoid showing too much skin
Many businesses have a dress code that can give clear guidance in how to look professional in summer months, but if yours doesn’t, follow these simple rules for being appropriately covered up.

What works: Skirts or dresses should be to the top edge of the knee or lower. Blouses should have necklines that rest above the cleavage line. Your clothes need to conceal any bra straps. Slingback pumps or ballet flats are great choices in shoes.

What doesn’t: Steer clear of low, distracting and inappropriate necklines and skirts that creep up the leg when you sit down. If you wear white pants, be sure your underwear is not showing through. Going sleeveless is not professional enough for most workplaces. Remember, any distractions will take away from your professionalism and get in the way of your performance.

Go for featherweight fabrics
Your summer outfits can be made up of the lightest, breezy fabrics and then layered to get the right effect.

What works: Cotton voile, cotton gauze, and tropical weight wool, fine linen blends and silky cotton knits are great choices. Look for clothing that has body and doesn’t cling to your skin. You’ll look cool and in command.

What doesn’t: Coarse linen, although breathable, wrinkles in an instant and can make you look like you slept in your clothes. Loose knits or crocheted tops are very breathable with tank tops underneath them but may look too casual. Sheer tops can be too revealing if undergarments are visible. Too tight layers will draw attention, be uncomfortable and add more heat to your body.

Accessories are necessary
Your accessories always play an important role in your professional look. They finish an outfit and add to your credibility.

What works: Try wearing a statement necklace or multiple strands of necklaces with your blouse and jacket. Scarves in lightweight linen, cotton, silk or featherweight cashmere can be a great source of texture and pattern. A wide cuff worn at the wrist works well with three-quarter sleeved blouses, sweaters or jackets. Your accessories don’t have to match perfectly but they do need to follow a consistent theme. Mix metallic tones or wear accessories that match your own coloring (eyes, skin tone, hair tone).

What doesn’t: Avoid dangly earrings. Stacked bangles can make lots of noise. Keep those out of the workplace. When making your choices, lean to the more conservative side.

What to wear to work when it’s steamy outside is a major wardrobe challenge for most people. I’d love to help you make choices that will make you feel confident. When you know you’re in appropriate, professional clothes, you can completely forget about yourself and stay focused on work. I’d love to help you make those choices!  We can do this in person or virtually.  Please contact me at 831-625-2000 or email me at to learn how we can work together either in person or virtually from a distance.
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