What You Need to Know About Dressing For The Summer Workplace!

Shana Harris

Summer is here and office wardrobes are changing.  This tends to be a fun time of year because many enjoy the seasonal change and the opportunity to sport the latest fashion trends.

When shopping for your new summer wardrobe, it is important to be aware of the new trends and what is acceptable for your work environment and what may be considered inappropriate.  Remember, first impressions count!

Use your wardrobe to communicate your company’s brand and culture.  For example, if you have a fun and creative culture – your style should reflect that emotion.  And, if you have more of a conservative and corporate culture, your style should reinforce that feeling.  Remember, with branding, everything matters, including how you present yourself!

During the past five years, I have noticed a significant change in the way people dress in the workplace across all industries.  In the business world, you used to see mainly suits and ties for men and it was common for women to dress in a more conservative manner, with many wearing skirt and pant suits.

Today, people are taking a more “fun” approach to dressing for work and casual style is the new norm.  This change has been embraced by many workplaces, but does come with some challenges from an HR perspective in making sure that people are dressed appropriately and don’t cross that fine line.

Make sure you are aware of your company’s dress code, as well as the image you want to convey when you are out of the office interacting with external audiences.

Here are some guidelines to help you have fun with your wardrobe and avoid making the “Fashion Don’t” list:


You know when you try on that outfit and something is just not right – a little too tight, low cut or casual.  Follow your gut and make sure you are 100% comfortable with your clothing choice.  You don’t want to be pulling down your skirt, or feeling like you are bursting out of your pants during a meeting.  It is always best to be more conservative then to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, baring too much!  Always remember, you never know what happens in a day, and you could end up meeting with a client, so you want to be prepared.


Sometimes, our feet are an afterthought, but they should not be overlooked.  If you are wearing open-toe shoes or sandals, you need to make sure that you are well groomed, especially your toes. Treat yourself to a pedicure and make sure that they look kempt and clean.  Ladies, have some fun and add some color.  Be careful that you choose a color that is not too loud and is still appropriate for work such as soft tones of pinks, reds and purples.  Stay away from bright colors like neon orange, green and yellow.


When was the last time you saw a guy or gal come to work in a suit?  Unless you work in a law firm or bank, it probably was not recently.  Most work environments have moved to more of a business casual dress code.  You no longer have to wear a suit to look professional.  For the ladies, you can have fun with mixing up skirts, pants and dresses for your next meeting.  Guys can experiment with trendy colored pants and a variety of shirts.   It is important to have an understanding of what the expectations are for meeting with clients, or attending networking events.  There are still situations where a traditional suit is appropriate.


This is a dream, right?  Most people love their most comfortable jeans and now they can wear them to work.  Check your office dress code before wearing your favorite weekend jeans to the office.  While many places allow you to wear jeans, they have specific criteria for the type of jeans they allow – no holes, no studs, etc.  Spice up your look by wearing loafers (guys), heels or wedges with your jeans – making it more of a dressy look.  It’s also okay to wear a dressy top with your jeans to give more of a professional look.


Summer brings fun, flirty dresses.  Now you can wear them to work and not have to save them for the weekend.   Dresses are one of my favorite items in my wardrobe because they are so easy!  It’s a one garment outfit and almost every body type can find a dress that compliments their figure.  With so many styles available, make sure you pick the dress that is right for your occasion. If it is a regular day at the office, it is ok to do a maxi style dress, or sun dress.  If you have a meeting or work event, make sure the dress is more professional looking and does not reveal too much – stay away from strapless, low cut, too short and too tight.