Dressing for Success

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April 1, 2012

Staying Professional as the Weather Warms Up


As the weather begins to warm up, many employees have the urge to ditch their business professional look and slip into something more comfortable. While it may feel good to break out the open-toed sandal and shorts look in the office, it’s certainly not acceptable for more formal workplaces. Especially in the law and financial industries, there is not much of a wardrobe change when the spring and summer months roll around. What you can do, however, is focus on maximizing your comfort level by adapting your existing fashions.

Some men prefer to wear roomier dress shirts as the mercury rises so their necks and wrists stay cooler. Just remember to keep the shoulders well-fitted; nothing says unprofessional like a gigantic bag for a shirt. Women wishing to wear something sleeveless need only to throw a light jacket or cardigan over the top in order to stay in line with professional dress codes. Wearing lighter weight fabrics such as tropical-weight wool helps because it breathes easier than heavier fabrics like polyester. Last, brighter colors help keep you cool in the sun, since they reflect more light. Avoid black and dark shades in general during the summer.

In workplaces that heed the often murky creed of “business casual,” one rule stands out above the rest: dress up to move up. While it would be lovely if we could be judged solely on our work performance, that is all too frequently not the case, and your appearance plays a large part in how supervisors, bosses and managers view you as a career-minded individual. Do not worry about what your co-worker in the next cubicle is wearing; while their khaki shorts and semi-wrinkled polo shirt may feel better as the temperature increases, it’s more important to look to the corner office and adjudicate your appearance based on your boss, or even his or her boss.