We are all aware of the remarkable impact our clothes have on how people view us and treat us so despite the hotter weather, we still need to look crisp and professional. Here are my top five tips on how to look stylish despite the rising temperatures.
Wearing black when the sun is blazing only makes you feel hotter. Opt for a lighter colour palette of whites, taupes, light grey and cooling blues that are summery but sophisticated and don’t feel as heavy as dark grey and black.
FOR WOMEN - Summer is a great time to experiment with print. A subtle print can add interest to an outfit and importantly prints are great at hiding sweat marks!
2. GO LIGHT
FOR MEN - A suit in a ‘tropical’ wool will be indispensable at this time of year and perfect for travelling to sunnier climates the rest of the year. A summer light weight wool is 7oz-9oz - although just be aware the ‘heavier fabrics tend to drape or hang better which affects the overall look of the suit.
FOR WOMEN - a sleeveless dress with a bracelet sleeve jacket as an option for meetings or more formal situations. Look for lightweight but wrinkle resistant fabrics like cotton blends and silk blends. A Lycra component will help the fabric keep its shape. Also consider the fit – fabrics that skim the body will be keep your body cooler. Swap your pencil skirt for a fuller style in a subtle print or brighter colour.
FOR MEN - opt for Silk ties in brighter colours or with small understated Hermes style prints to add a summery element to the formal suit. Short sleeve dress shirts err on the wrong side of casual so instead when in the office roll up your sleeves. This is also the perfect opportunity to show off a fine wristwatch. Maintain composure and carry a pressed crisp white cotton hanky in your pocket to wipe the brow of perspiration. I know many men find hats hard to pull off but their ability to keep the head cool whilst keeping the sun off the face should not be overlooked. A finely woven panama with a navy suit is refined and functional . Just remember to take if off when you are inside.
FOR WOMEN - Add sophistication and polish to more summery looking dresses with jewellery. A statement necklace or refined drop earrings work well but avoid bracelets that can bang on the desk when typing and can be distracting. Try a brighter handbag like a red to lift a more neutral palette.
4. FEET FIRST
Feet swell in the heat so opt for softer fabrics like suede that will stretch easily with an expanding foot
FOR MEN - A tan shoe will work with the light colour palette of greys and blues.
FOR WOMEN - Try a brighter coloured shoe with a fit and flare dress and if you can, leave the tights at home and prep the legs with Sally Hansen’s airbrush legs.
5. CHECK THE DRESS CODE
Most UK firms seem to have a summer dress code so it is worth enquiring with HR. Some flexibility during these periods of intense heat is advantageous - the more comfortable the staff are the more productive they will be but a more relaxed approach to dressing in these periods should not be carte blanch for looking ungroomed and sloppy.
FOR MEN - If the office culture is more flexible then a cotton suit or a light wool blazer with chinos and polo shirt make a great hot weather combination.
FOR WOMEN - Softer silhouettes will be comfortable, cool and professional and if your office is air-conditioned a cotton silk cardigan will take the edge off.
If you feel your professional image is letting you down then I would love to help you raise your sartorial game and your confidence so please get in touch. I wish you all a successful and productive summer
Penny Bennett is an Image Consultant, Personal Stylist and Shopper who works with successful executives, entrepreneurs and working mum's in London and the South East.