Summer’s almost here, yay! Along with opportunities for sun and fun, comes the terrifying specter of deep sweaty armpit stains during meetings.
Worried that you’re going to look like a hot sweaty mess at the office this summer? Fear not. You can look cool, comfortable and in charge without sacrificing your professional edge.
Only if it suits you
How much is proper to bare in the office during summer months is a conundrum faced by most people no matter age, stage, or career. Phillip Salem, agent at Triplemint Real Estate said “The whole suit and tie look in the summer is exhausting.”
Salem has never worn a suit and tie in his entire career — even as the former owner of a boutique in NYC’s trendy Meatpacking district.
“Clients understand that summer temperatures can soar and wearing a full long sleeve button up, with long pants, jacket and tie is not only confining but extremely hot.” Salem said, “Clients would rather see their agent cool and comfortable rather than dripping sweat and uncomfortable.”
He thinks “men shouldn’t be afraid to wear cropped pants, or long shorts below the knee, with a high-top sneaker and a nice short sleeve button down or good quality tee.”
A word of caution: Before opting for an atypical pants length, make sure it’s industry approved. You want to be known for your great work – not your ankles.
While in some office environments headgear (obviously, religious head coverings are an entirely different matter!) can be frowned on, when frizz season hits, a topper might make you look more professional. Grace Eleyae, owner/designer of Satin Lined Caps is a big fan of up-dos for summer months “A super easy way to look great is to throw your hair up and add a headband. Printed turbans are great to add to any summer look — and will protect your hair from dryness on those hot summer days.”
So, is there any protocol to be aware of when wearing a head covering or hat to the office? Eleyea said “I think this depends on your office culture. So many companies are allowing more relaxed rules in terms of dress,” so hats, turbans or scarves “are becoming proper work wear in many places.”
If you want to play it safe, Eleyea says headbands are your best bet. And if you goof up? “Your boss will let you know if you shouldn’t do it next time.”
If you’re unsure how to choose a hat or turban, Eleyea says you can match your mood or outfit or even “a reflection of your mood, whether you’re feeling happy/bold and choose a print or bright color, or your feeling subdued or sluggish and want to wear a more muted color. I typically choose my head covering to match my outfit, or to add a pop of color to a neutral color scheme.”
Who wears short shorts?
No one. Or at least no one who considers themselves a professional. But it is okay to wear shorter sleeves or longer shorts during the summer. Salem said “Never show up to a listing or to an appointment with a buyer in a tank top and shorts. Wearing a short sleeve shirt is ok and wearing shorts below the knee is as well. Just make sure they are not denim, as no one should be wearing denim shorts, period.”
But never these
Salem says flip-flops are never the right choice for work. “And if you are wearing open toe shoes, please get a pedicure or groom your feet.”
While you’re at it, try to avoid the socks with sandals look, even if your favorite fashionista loves the look- it rarely works in real life.
When in doubt
Salem has a simple fashion philosophy no matter the season “Dress for what makes you comfortable.” He also believes you don’t have to wear the typical outfit for your industry, but always “dress for success.” Eleyea sums it up this way “I believe confidence is the coolest thing you can rock this summer.”
If you’re not sure you can comfortably rock a turban or cropped pants, there are other ways to schvitz-proof your summer business look. Keep an eye out for breathable fabrics. Gant has a fabric that regulates sweat to keep you cool and comfortable but looks like a dress shirt. PLAE has sneakers with breathable perforated suede making them comfortable but not exposed.