When days are long and hot, staying comfortable and cool is a priority for many women but for those ones dealing with hot flushes it’s a must because things can get worse, especially when they have to head to the office and don’t know what to wear.
Fortunately, some workwear items are stylish yet practical to help them survive the heat in style. As always, the secret is to invest in some key pieces.
My go-to office piece is a dress, worn with flat sandals— says the editor-in-chief of Elle, Nina Garcia, 57 years-old -. Another work outfit formula I revert to a lot during warm weather is a white, black, or blue button-down shirt with an embellished skirt. If I’m going straight from the office to dinner, I might switch out the shirt to something dressier—like a silk blouse—or add a jacket. This summer, I’m also looking forward to accessorizing with some fun, colourful pieces.
If you are looking for more inspiration, here’s how to nail heatwave workwear while keeping hot flushes at bay.
Best Fabric To Wear
One of this summer’s most popular style materials is linen, so why not try incorporating it into your workwear? Linen is one of the most cooling fabrics available in every piece of clothing you need to stay breezy while working.
A linen shirt is the perfect staple and is easy to pair with your favourite tailored trousers or tucked into a flowing skirt. You also have the option to wear it unbuttoned over a blouse or as a cover-up for your arms or shoulders when leaving for work in the morning or when popping out for after-work drinks later in the evening.
Linen trousers are the easiest way to keep your lower half cool and comfortable during the summer. They are also available in many colours, so if the classic cream is too casual for your work, opt for a darker, more understated colour such as black or brown without having to compromise on comfort. They look way better if you pair them with tops that are slightly cropped at the bottom (just to meet the waist of your pants). Alternatively, they could have some knots at the bottom or loose-front tuck.
Linen dresses are the ultimate pieces when it comes to staying cool and looking put together. The breathable fabric will keep you cool all day and can be the perfect way to incorporate layers, even in the summer. There are tons of options out there between midis or maxis and A-line or column silhouettes, so it won’t be difficult to find exactly what kind of style you’re looking for. If you are a bit unsure about the style you want to achieve, try styling a linen dress with a blazer to heighten the professional feel.
A shirt dress is one of the most simple but effective ways to incorporate comfort into your wardrobe whilst also being work appropriate. There are many types of shirt dresses available and make for a solid wardrobe staple with minimal effort.
Collared shirt dresses are the clear-cut way to look smart while keeping cool, they look most professional when styled with a light tailored jacket, and they are complementary to every body type – says experts at Karen Millen-. Similarly, if a collar is too much for you to handle on a hot day and your dress code allows for a slightly more casual approach, it might be better to opt for a basic t-shirt dress.
To spice up a basic t-shirt dress for work, you can pair it with a lightweight blazer which will elevate the piece for more formal work occasions such as meetings, or you can smarten it up by pairing it with a high-quality cardigan, some heels and a great belt (this accessory can create a more put-together feel on the most casual dresses).
Regarding colours, fashion journalist Alyson Walsh, recommends pale neutrals and white. “They always provide an easy-breezy summer feel – she says – but don’t dismiss colour. Navy and black are versatile summer stalwarts and shades of green, orange or yellow add a brilliant boost”.
A maxi dress is a staple in many workwear summer wardrobes as it is one of the most accessible and lightweight options to go for. The key here is paying attention to how you pair it with accessories. With the right extra pieces, you’ll quickly transform the flowing, comfortable maxi into a work-ready look ready to make a good impression.
For instance, a patterned maxi dress is a great way to introduce colours into your workwear, and most of the time it doesn’t need a lot of styling or accessorising as the dress does all the talking. Shirt-style maxi dresses are also a fabulous way of smartening up the long dress and can be paired with trainers or sandals, depending on your style choice.
Another way to make your maxi dress more appropriate for a slightly stricter dress code is to pair it with a solid colour blazer (you can always tuck it into your bag while you’re making your way to the office); this will tie everything in and keep any casual maxi looking more professional and sophisticated for the workplace. A black blazer, for instance, is undeniably chic, and you’ll exude confidence whether you’re crunching numbers at your desk or giving an important presentation.
Lightweight Trench Coat
Don’t underestimate the practicality of a lightweight trench coat in Summer. It’s a perfect way to add a longer element to any outfit and can be a great way of transitioning from cooler mornings to warm afternoons.
Remember that the traditional cotton gabardine version in a neutral colour such as camel, grey, navy, or black will be more timeless and easy to style, but if you love statement pieces then choose what’s best for you. Just make sure that the hemline of your outfit underneath is shorter than the hemline of the trench (this allows for a more youthful and natural look).
Great shoes are key
For women who work nine-to-five office jobs, spending the whole day in one pair of shoes in a hot weather means one thing: they have to be comfortable. Flats and classic slingbacks are often the favourite ones for hot days but still, you can rely on other options that will keep you cool and stylish.
If you prioritise comfort and want to ensure you can be more active at any point during your day, this is your safest bet. Made from lightweight, breathable fabrics like canvas, cotton, lace, and innovative recycled knits, these are your golden ticket to enjoying the lace-up styles you know and love without feeling uncomfortably hot.
Despite many dress codes having a no open-toe policy, if you’re lucky enough to wear sandals, they can be a chic and enjoyable way to add that holiday feel to your workday. Not only will sandals keep your lower half cool, but they are also the perfect way to add colour to your look. Opt for a pair with block heels; they will make them easy to walk in, and they’re trendy enough to go with almost every outfit.
Above all, think of summer as a good time for a wardrobe assessment: it’s an opportunity to highlight accessories and play with lengths, texture and jewellery. Don’t let hot flushes knock down your style – confidence.