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If you can see a toe, its a no: How to dress for the office in summer


Here's how to dress for the office in summer

Im telling you, its a nightmare (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Us Brits arent exactly known for our summer style, and never less so than when it comes to summer dressing for work.

Its hardly our fault: our island only gets 15 minutes of sun every other July, and even then theres always a chance of a shower.

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We can never be prepared. There arent any rules.

Are shorts OK? Skirts above the knee? What, in the name of all that is holy, does smart causal actually mean?

Summer work-wear is a minefield, so weve stepped in with some handy hints and tips.

Lighten up

Lightweight fabrics are going to play a big part in your summer work-wear wardrobe, so make your peace with linen now.



Yes, alright, it wrinkles – its supposed to.

It is just heavy enough to be office-appropriate and its inherent anti-bacterial properties make it a hygienic choice if youre sweating.

You probably will be; air con is another thing us Brits have yet to master.

Choose shoes

Because flip-flops are never, ever OK.

Avoid sandals too, even those hardcore chunky ones you can hike in.

Actually, especially those.

Basically, If you can see a toe, its a no.

Loafers or slip-ons are good alternatives for men (as long as the latter is not canvas, you are not 17 and/or a professional skateboarder) while closed-toe heels or wedges are proven office choices for women.

Weirdly, a visible heel seems to be fine for women. Whats that about?

Get layer-y

Layers are the ultimate summer work-wear hack.

A boyfriend blazer hides all manner of summer sartorial slip-ups and still looks formal. Avoid white ones unless you are intentionally going for that mother-of-the-bride look.

If youre worried your top/dress/shirt is too sheer, invest in a slip. Yes, just like your grandmother used to do.

Men: a waistcoat is a useful, and may I say natty, alternative to a jacket.

metro illustration

Probably too much (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

How low can you go?

Good question.

Summer clothes are often low-cut as standard, so it can be tough to find items with an appropriate neckline that isnt frumpy.

This one is all about intuition: if you think its too low, it probably is, so for goodness sake put a vest top underneath – one of those nice ones with a frilly edge – or just avoid it completely.

Wear a bra

No witty pun to accompany this one.

Wear a bra.

Thats the advice.

Back it up

Do not opt for a backless number on the basis that it looks formal from the front.

Showing off your back is as inappropriate as showing off your breasts and, besides, you have to turn around sometime.



This advice can – nay, should – be applied to your actual work, as well as your work-wear.

Sorry guys, length matters

Which means no short-sleeve shirts.

I know how tempting they must look on the hanger: its got buttons. Its got a collar. Its smart and cool.

Short-sleeve shirts are for surgeons and Prince George only. Are you a surgeon or Prince George? No?

Take it off.

metro illustration

Probably not enough (Picture: Ella Byworth/MylesGoode)

Dont be afraid of colour

I know, colour is generally terrifying – especially at work – but were not talking neon-green polka dots here.

Guys, go mad: try a pink shirt.

Ladies: bright block colours or colourful accessories will do the trick.

And dont worry, winter will be here again soon enough.

But also dont be afraid of black

You dont have to stop wearing black just because its sunny.

Opt for light fabrics and classic cuts, or team black accessories with neutral tones to add formality.

Plus, no black means that three-quarters of your wardrobe will be out of commission.

Join the navy

Navy is the answer to your hue-based prayers and your new office ally.

Navy smartens up skirts, short-sleeve tops and chinos.

It softens against white. It pairs well with every other colour.

And, best of all, it multitasks, so you can wear it all year round.

A rule of thumb for straps

This one is simple: if your shoulder strap is narrower than your thumb, put on a cardigan.

Better yet, change entirely.

Strappy tops have no place in a professional environment.

They barely have a place in this decade.

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