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Summer Wardrobe Guidelines: Dos and Don’ts

Resist the urge to slip into board shorts with flip flops in tow – save them for a day at the beach. However, if you’re like the rest of us sweltering in the summer heat in the confines of a cubicle, you need to find a delicate balance to stay stylish without worrying about violating office HR clothing policies. Need a refresher? In most cases, business/office clothing follows the same guidelines but check in with your HR department to verify items appropriate for work.

Before heading out into the summer heat, consider these items:


Avoid sheer items

Despite their ability to cool you off on a hot day, sheer clothing isn’t deemed work appropriate. Why? Undergarments should not be visible while at work. Semi-sheer items can work if they are not completely sheer, and another item of clothing is worn underneath to cover up.

Opt for an appropriate length

When the weather gets hot, the hemlines get shorter. However, keep your office dress code in mind when picking out items to wear to the office. Opt for a knee-length outfit – offering up a more conservative, yet classic wardrobe option.

Ditch heavy fabrics

If you don’t store away wool and leather items during the summer, you’ll end up throwing an item into your rotation and regretting it later when the heat overcomes you. Choose lighter weight fabrics like cotton, linen or silk that allows your clothes to breathe a bit, cooling you off in the process.


Wear thin straps

Exposed shoulders are a business outfit faux-paus. A general guideline is to ensure that clothing straps are at least 2-3 inches wide. However, some offices don’t allow shoulders to be shown at all, so look for a cardigan or blazer to cover up.

Wear shorts

Save the shorts for summer time spent outside of the office. If you’re looking for a breezier feel rather than wearing long pants, offices may allow capri pants or crop pants that reveal a bit of the ankle or lower leg. It may not provide the full cooling abilities of shorts, but you might feel better with a bit of a breeze on your skin.

Flip-flop around

Do you know that loud flapping sound that flip-flops make when you walk? Employers know about it too – and they don’t typically approve of this form of footwear. Looking for a more suitable option? Find sandals with straps and a closed back to dress them up a bit. However, if open toes aren’t your thing, loafers, dress shoes and flats are acceptable forms of footwear.

Unbutton too much

Dress shirts don’t have to be buttoned all the way up if you’re not wearing  a tie. However, if you let loose too much and unbutton one too many buttons, the skin to shirt ratio is thrown off balance.  Button up a bit as a precaution and if you’re feeling warm, undo a button or two but no more than that.

At the end of the day, your dress code depends on your workplace rules set out by your HR department, so be sure to check in with teams to see what you’re able to wear, and then go from there.  Play it safe and enjoy the summer styles of floral patterns, softer colours and lighter weight fabrics.

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