As the summer approaches, and the cold weather has finally, finally left us for at least a few months, you're probably starting to think about your warm weather wardrobe. While summer presents many possibilities for the beach or a picnic in the park—bust out those sundresses, t-shirts, and shorts!—figuring out what to wear to work is another story. Many offices have a dress code, and shorts are generally a no-no. Even if your office is on the more casual side, you want to maintain a professional image, and the clothes you might want to wear in the high temperatures of summer months may not align with what's work appropriate. So what are appropriate work clothes that won't make your body feel like a sauna on an unbearably hot day?
Here are seven wardrobe staples you should keep in your closet for the warm weather ahead.
1. Light neutrals
Heavy black clothing is going to make you sweat profusely in the summer months. Instead of wearing blacks, browns, and navy blues, opt for a sophisticated taupe, white, or gray. Linen pants in these shades can feel a lot more breathable than heavier fabric.
2. Pencil and midi skirts
At one point, women couldn't sport bare legs in the office. But the fact is, wearing pantyhose is going to make you sweat. Rather than suffering in the heat, it's fine to go pantyhose-less, as long as your skirts are of an appropriate length. You can't go wrong with a professional pencil or midi skirt. To mix it up, try a fun pattern.
3. Cropped pants
In extreme heat, wearing pants is probably the last thing you want to do. However, cropped pants allow you to stay cool in the warmer weather without sacrificing comfort and style. Plus, if you choose a neutral shade, you coworkers probably won't notice if you wear them twice in one weak, as long as you switch up your top.
Be aware that cropped pants may not fit into the dress code of all work environments; if you're office is expecially conservative you may want to opt for a skirt instead.
4. Short-sleeved or sleeveless blouses
Once you find the perfect skirt or pants, it's time to pair it with a work-ready top. Short-sleeved or sleeveless blouses are a must. While you might be able to pair neutral cotton t-shirts with a blazer, keep in mind that your office's air conditioning may require you to take it off and put it back on depending on how it's affecting your body temperature. You don't want to be forced to wear a blazer and suffer through fluctuating temperatures in your office.
5. Sleeveless dresses
Like bare legs, bare shoulders may have once been a no-no in more conservative offices. However, in high temperatures, they're often your best friend. I'm not saying you should wear anything with spaghetti straps or something that's totally strapless, unless you keep your shoulders covered with a sweater or blazer at all times, but a simple, sleeveless shiftdress can do wonders for you in the warmer weather.
Some more conservative offices may frown on bare shoulders, so be sure to check with HR before you invest in a wardrobe's worth of cotton dresses.
6. Maxi dresses
As a general rule, you should try to keep your dresses knee-length or just a bit above the knee in the office. Maxi dresses help you avid the problem entirely. Not only can they be cute and professional, but in an air-conditioned room, you won't have to worry about goosbumps on your legs.
7. Light sweaters and blazers
You could head to work on a hot day and be confronted with a blast of cold air conditioning as soon as you step through your office door. If you're planning on a lot of sleeveless times and dresses, make sure you have plenty of light sweaters and blazers to pair with them. Choose light colors that match at least a couple of your tops and dresses, so you can wear them a few times throughout the work. If they're neutral enough, most people won't notice outfit repeats.
Now that the cold weather has finally dissipated, it's time to celebrate with summer staples that are cute and professional. Enjoy the warm weather!