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Don’t Be Too Hot, And Other Summer Fashion Advice for the Office

It’s summertime, but we still have to work. Sucks! And we have to dress the part even if it’s a blistering 100 degrees. Double sucks! (Though today is quite nice here in NYC.)

We’ve published three of the four parts of our Career Development series (part four will publish this week), but there’s one area we’ve failed to address: Office attire. Sure, you know to wear a suit to the interview. But do you show up in flip-flops and shorts once you’ve move into your new cubicle? N-O spells “no.”

After the jump, Kate Powell, a stylist with Style for Hire, has given us five tips for dressing appropriately during the summer months. Style for Hire is a network of personal stylists, compiled by What Not To Wear host (and Media Beat guest) Stacy London and company co-founder Cindy McLaughlin.

Click through for more.

Top Five Tips for Summertime Professional Dressing Kate Powell, Style for Hire stylist

- Pick suiting fabrics that are lightweight with visual interest. Find professional pieces that are blends of lightweight natural fabrics that contain subtle textures or patterns. Subtle pinstripes, plaids, or cross-hatching give professional fabrics a more interesting dynamic but can be worn exactly the same as a solid. Although solid suiting is “safe” it tends to look bland and dated. A couple of examples here and here.

- Express your personality with color and pattern. With less pieces to play with, your summer wardrobe should contain fun, bold pieces that look sharp and inventive without the bulk of layers. For women, colorful and patterned pants are a huge trend and florals are making a comeback in blouses and dresses (image above left from Zara). For men, pick shirting with bold colors or strong striping or plaids and look for pants in pseudo-neutrals rather than the traditional brown, black, and khaki. Pseudo-neutrals include colors like plum, forest green, charcoal grey, and burgundy. They can be worn just like traditional neutrals but look more interesting and modern.

- Pick natural fabrics to beat the heat. Cottons, linens, and silk breath and don’t trap odors like synthetics do. They also tend to look more luxe and hold color better than some synthetics, as the Marc Jacobs blouse on the upper right shows. Note: The price of cotton is on the rise leading many designers to use cheaper polyester or rayon. These fabrics are a close second to cotton as far as how they drape and feel but will still trap heat and odor on hot days. So check your labels before making a purchase. An example for men at left.

- Shoes make the man (and woman!). When the heat is unbearable and getting dressed in anything interesting seems like a futile endeavor, a great shoe can carry a look. For men, designers are making traditional loafers, deck shoes, and lace-ups in new and exciting colors. Really looking to make a statement, try a well-designed sneaker with a dressy outfit to give it some edge. For women, pointy-toed pumps in neons or metallics make a great statement while remaining professional. Color not your thing? Try an animal print shoe. Animal prints are also considered a pseudo-neutral and can be worn with everything in your wardrobe to give it some spice.

- Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re hot, people won’t mind you showing some skin. When it’s hot out it can be tempting to throw on your lightest shortest, spaghetti-strap sundress or your worn out cotton tee and a pair of shorts to the office. Don’t be tempted. The heat is no excuse to show up to working looking sloppy, or worse. Although you may be slightly hotter in your professional garb, you will be avoiding sideways glances from you boss and water cooler gossip about your hemline.

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