Dressing for summer weather is the best: Throw on a gauzy mini dress and sandals or a cute tank and denim cut-offs and just go! But dressing for summer weather when you spend your week in an office is not so great. There’s the challenge of finding an outfit that’s work-appropriate but that won’t have you drenched in sweat the moment you step outside. Then there’s the further dilemma of an office A/C that's invariably set at full arctic blast. What can you wear to work in the summer that will satisfy all these seemingly incompatible style requirements? While ignoring your company’s dress code isn’t an option, that doesn’t mean you're stuck being uncomfortable.
The secret is to simplify your options and establish a few key foundational pieces you can build out into an outfit. By laying the groundwork, you’ll eliminate the guesswork. You can wear sleek trousers with a crisp button-down and pumps or a luxe tee or tank and block-heel sandals — either way you'll look put-together and polished. A flowy midi skirt allows for similar styling options, plus it will keep you cool and comfortable as the temperatures rise. The same can be said for knee-length shorts which you can style with an oxford shirt or as a suit with a coordinating blazer for a true power-dressing moment. Continue on for a breakdown of summer workwear essentials and outfit formulas that will make getting dressed in the mornings an effortless endeavor — come heatwave or humidity.
Shirtdress + Simple Sandals
A crisp cotton shirtdress is a must for summer. Whether you wear it with flats, sandals, or pumps, the classic tailoring keeps it feeling work appropriate.
Jumpsuit + Jacket
A cropped jumpsuit is a stylish alternative to trousers, especially when done in a fresh floral print. For extra coverage once you're in the office, toss a pastel-hued moto jacket over your shoulders.
Tee + Skirt + Belt
A ladylike midi skirt can be worn with just about any top and still look entirely proper — even a plain white tee. If you want to punch it up a bit, consider cinching the waist with a cool statement belt.
Give your usual suiting a summery update and choose a version in a bright color with shorts instead of full-length trousers.
Wrap Dress + Mules
Delicate polka dots add instant whimsy to a basic wrap dress silhouette (or any traditional workwear style, really).
For a warm-weather look that's as comfortable as it is chic, wear a combination of pastel-colored silk separates. Silk is better than satin or other synthetic fabrics when the temps heat up because of its breathability.
Blouse + Biker Shorts
Fashion industry trendsetters are making the case for cycling shorts as office attire. If you're comfortable breakign them out for the office, pair them with a more traditional, structured blouse and a low heel.
Bold Prints + Boots
A dress in a geometric print and asymmetric cut is a modern option that still works for work. Pair it with ankle boots to up the downtown cool vibe.
Statement Top + White Denim
A dressy blouse is just what a pair of high-waisted white jeans needs to make it feel done-up enough for the office.
LBD + Blazer
Put that LBD to work. A simple black shift that hits around the knee is classic — and if you add a sleek blazer on top of it, you might be able to get away with something more casual for footwear. Say, a trendy sport sandal.
A blazer and skirt combo doesn't have to be boring — sweet candy hues make it a more seasonable ensemble. Compliment the light and airy look with a pair of bright white mules.
Cool Boiler Suit
A boiler suit may seem a little rugged at first thought, but select one in a lighter hue (leave the dark shades for autumn) and pair it with barely-there sandals and you'll be surprised how refined a canvas jumpsuit can look.
A blazer is perhaps the most essential workwear staple, but instead of wearing it with trousers per usual, go bare legged in a longer dress version of the classic jacket.
Polished Jeans + Statement Heel
Denim feels especially suitable to both warmer weather and a work environment when you select a style in a solid light wash (sans any fading or distressing) and a trouser-like silhouette with elevated details.
Blouse + Wide-Leg Trousers
A flowy pair of pants is a versatile staple you need in your rotation. Add a button-down or blouse — it's an easy, breezy formula that will save you the headache on days when you just can't deal.
Nothing says summertime like a sweet picnic plaid. A gingham skirt suit is just the ticket once the heatwave hits.
Tank + Midi Skirt
If you're going to go bare-armed, it helps to choose a tank that's more structured and sleek. Add a voluminous midi skirt in a stiff textile that holds its shape for a modern, architectural mix.
Blazer + Cropped Culottes
Sometimes an exposed ankle is all you need to feel just a little bit cooler and more comfortable in the summer heat. Culottes are perfect for delivering all the sophistication of a long trouser, but with an extra flair.