Log In

Reset Password

Respectfully Yours: office attire

Dear Jacquelyn, With summer approaching, I could use suggestions regarding appropriate summer attire for work. I would like to put away the dark pants and wear some dresses. How can I update my office wardrobe while taking care to not overdo it?

Dear Reader,

It’s important to strike a balance between comfortable and appropriate when it comes to work attire.

The first thing you’ll want to do is consult dress code of the company. Businesses have a variety of policies regarding summer office attire.

If your company handbook doesn’t give specific dress code instructions, create a standard for dressing for work yourself.

You are always safer when you err on the side of caution and choose conservatively. Summer is not the time to take a vacation from professionalism.

The office, a cornerstone of professionalism, should be respected as such. There are a few simple rules that we need to remember.

Start with summer staples that are appropriate. Think layers. Pairing your outfit with a lightweight jacket or cardigan is a great way to adjust to the different temperatures you’ll encounter throughout your day. Use your judgment and enjoy lightweight fabrics like cotton and linen.

Lighter colors, khaki, and cream are good options. Wear nicely-tailored blouses and tops. The classic white shirt works for everyone and should be included in your summer wardrobe.

Sheath dresses and A-line skirts with the hemline at your knees are appropriate. You can save your heavy wool suits for your winter work wardrobe. Business suits made of cotton or linen fabrics are perfect for summer.

Appropriate doesn’t need to be boring. Use pops of colors and accessories to brighten up outfits.

Do be modest. There are options that are never appropriate for the office. Open back, crop tops, and rising hems are types of garments that are generally considered too bare for a work environment. Your lack of clothing shouldn’t be a distraction at work.

You want the focus on your good ideas, not on the amount of skin you’re exposing. Save the tank tops, spaghetti straps, and shorts for the weekend.

As a general rule of thumb, if it looks like you could wear it to a barbecue, it’s not the look for the office.

Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn

Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the National Civility Foundation board of directors. All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2018 Jacquelyn Youst