What Not to Wear: Summer Dressing

The weather here in DC seems to have finally sorted itself out and warm, sunny days are here to stay. Warmer weather not only brings barbecues, softball games, and patio brunches but sundresses, flip flops, mini skirts and wayfarers. The sun also brings a shift in the female work wardrobe (sorry boys, short sleeve dress shirts will never be appropriate, or even acceptable). While it is tempting to rotate in all your warm weather garments there are some pieces that should never be worn to the office.

Sundresses/Jersey Dresses

There is not a summer staple that compares to the sundress. It’s light, breezy, flattering, fun and makes summer dressing a snap. However, it often comes with stringy straps, flirty cuts, and (sometimes) clingy fabrics. In short sundresses are just too casual for the office, even if they are “dressed up” with a cardigan or a blazer. Jersey dresses are comfortable but plaster your body when you walk making them inappropriate and again, too casual.

Sandals

Flat Sandals: This one has discretion depending on the office you work in but for the most part reserve your strappy summer sandals for after work cocktails or weekend lunches. Like sundresses, most summer sandals are just too casual for office wear, no matter how sparkly “dressy” they seem. It should go without saying that flip-flops should never EVER EVER (yes, EVER) be worn in the office.
Heeled Sandals: I personally believe that there are heeled sandals that are office appropriate. However, there are varying opinions on how much foot exposure (or even “toe cleavage”) is appropriate for the work place. Stick with closed toe pumps for court and important meetings but use your own judgment on everyday office wear. If your office is on the conservative side stick with neutral colors and less daring cuts. If you have a little leeway play with color and style but don’t make a choice that has people wondering if you are on the boardwalk and not the boardroom. Stay away from wedges and espadrilles, while comfortable they are simply too casual.

Slinky Tank Tops

I live in sleeveless dress shirts and shells in the summer. Sleeveless shirts are office appropriate (and chic) as long as you follow a few guidelines. Stick to shirts that truly are sleeveless but still have ample collar and back coverage. If the shirt does have straps they should be at least an inch thick and not cut too deeply. Stay away from racerbacks, spaghetti straps, and tube tops as they show too much skin.

Short Hemlines

Warmer weather brings with it the temptation to wear your favorite skirt everyday of the week. However, you stand in front of the mirror Monday morning and wonder if its too short for the office. If you have to have that conversation with yourself then it is most likely too short. Skirts can skim one inch above the knee but no higher.

Beach Bags

Yes your straw beach bag is adorable and holds everything under the sun but it belongs at the beach, not in your cubicle. Transition to a structured bag in a light color to compliment the weather.

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