With sunnier days ahead you probably think it’s time to dress more informally for work. How casual can you be about clothes for the office?
Of course you’d like to be more comfortable in hotter weather, but don’t forget that you need to appear professional to colleagues and others you meet in the course of your work. You wouldn’t want to lose the respect of either.
So what do you need for your relaxed, summer wear wardrobe?
Choose paler colours, and natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. Try looser fitting styles with a bit of structure.
Steer clear of spaghetti straps, halter necks and strapless wear (you want to keep cool, but that doesn’t mean baring all).
Sleeveless is good and you can always cover up with a little jacket if the aircon in the office gets a bit much, or if you have to go out to a business lunch.
Fifties’ style tea dresses are in fashion this season, so channel Kirsten Dunst out and about at Cannes – you could be the star in the office.
Gossamer-thin dresses can be cooling and very alluring, but resist the temptation or wear a slip.
Summer is a chance to flaunt footwear though – strappy, bright or sandals with heels. There have been headlines on heels/flatties in the office, but take it from the fashionistas, flat whites are in.
How much leg should you reveal? Some people say that if you’re sitting down and the hem only gets to mid-thigh, it is too high. This is a judgment call, but obviously hot pants are out.
And what of summer tips for men? Again, it’s a question of how much you reveal.
How far can you go with an unbuttoned shirt? Two? Three could make you look seedy. Someone has invented a Tweener button that sits between the second and third one – a great idea, though I’m not sure if this has caught on.
Short-sleeve shirts could be an option, but you could simply roll up your sleeves. That’s what high-powered hospital consultants do and they’re making far more important decisions than us office folk.
Choose natural fabrics for shirts. You now have the pick of patterned shirts, but stay away from florid Hawaiian styles.
Casual trousers or chinos can always be teamed up with smart shirts and lightweight jackets for a more formal look.
Is it OK to wear shorts? We’re becoming more relaxed about casual wear at work. But teamed with deck shoes this could be a look too far.
Summery, lightweight clothes can look crumpled – it may be de rigueur on the catwalk, it just looks sloppy in an office.
Tuck in or out? That depends on the kind of shirt you’re wearing but think about the context – are you due to go to an important meeting that day?
Even though Italian designers teamed socks with sandals for this season’s shows, you’d have to wear some pretty classy sandals to make this work. So try sneakers in colours to match your outfit, or shoes in paler colours.
Ultimately, your choice of summer wear comes down to the office culture. If it is extremely casual you could take it up a notch and create your own informal, but business-like style. If it is verging on the more formal, your choice of accessories could add that relaxed, comfortable touch.