Hot or Not? How to Stay Cool (And Look Professional) In the Summer

Women standing between hanging clothes in her closet looking stressed.

Now that we’ve entered July, it’s fair to say it’s officially hot. Not just short sleeves and cropped pants, hot. It’s ‘oh no! what do I wear when it’s 101 degrees out?’ hot. Whether your office is buttoned-up business professional or as casual as can be, here are a few ideas on how to stay cool at work this summer.

Business Professional 

When you’re confined to suits and heels, it can be hard to beat the summer heat. Luckily, there are a few loopholes that can keep you cool (literally and figuratively).


When you’re confined to a suit for the summer, pay special attention to the fabric it’s made of. Wool or synthetic fabrics are less breathable than cotton or linen. Even though these fabrics wrinkle easily, it’s worth the extra ironing to stay cool. And, linen suits are pretty easy to come by, so you won’t be on an endless goose chase for a cool summer suit.

If your office errs on the trendy side, you can skip the socks when wearing summer dress shoes, like loafers.


While wearing dresses and skirts may seem like the no-brainer solution, sometimes these items are not always comfortable in the heat. If possible, stick to A-line dresses or fuller skirts and choose tops that aren’t sheer – though these may seem cooler, they require another layer underneath, and double fabric is not ideal in the heat.

If you have freedom in shoe choice, go for shoes made of materials other than leather (faux or real). Luckily, crocheted shoes and shoes with laser cut holes and designs are trendy right now and they allow for more breathability.

Business (Smart) Casual

With this dress code, there’s a bit more freedom to wear an outfit that beats the heat.


Again, breathable fabrics are your friend. Look for linen pants and cotton polos for your business casual summer wardrobe. Chinos are also a good option since they come in a range of colors yet still look polished enough for the office.

For shoes, you can wear a nicer pair boat shoes or loafers to complete the look. Whether you wear socks or not is again, up to the fashion norms of your office. If you do require socks, choose a thin, cotton pair.


Besides skirts and appropriate sundresses, consider cropped pants as an option. High-waisted, looser pants are in style now, and maximize breathability. They also come in a variety of fun colors and patterns. Another summer staple for this dress code is the cotton t-shirt (I own about 5 of the same shirt in different colors). These pair well with skirts, cropped pants, and even jeans if your company allows.

To keep your feet cool, cute sandals or canvas slip-on shoes both make great options.


If you have a casual dress code, then it’s pretty easy to rock some great summer options. However, even if the office is super casual, it’s important to keep things appropriate.


If you can wear shorts, choose wisely. Instead of cargo shorts, opt for more stylish chino shorts. Again, there are colorful options when it comes to chino shorts and some even sport fun embroidery – like flamingos! You can pair these with a polo or even a solid t-shirt.

For shoes, it’s best to avoid flip flops, no matter how tempting. You still want to come off as polished. Try boat shoes or canvas/suede sneakers for a casual but classy look.


With casual shorts and skirts, it’s important to keep length in mind. In middle and high school, we had a “finger tip length” rule for shorts. Even though finger tip length is a bit of a stretch for normal shorts (or maybe I just have really long arms), it’s still a rule you should loosely follow when selecting a length. Avoid anything with rips like cut-off shorts and ripped jeans – this still is your office you’re going to.

Shoes can be a lot of fun when it comes to casual dress codes. The only thing you should really avoid is flip flops. Cute, braided sandals, canvas flats, or low block heels are all great summer options.

The biggest mistake you can make is dressing down too much, regardless of the weather. So, if you’re unsure if something is appropriate for work, it’s probably not. Stick to these easy dress code tips to avoid being a hot mess (both literally and figuratively).

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