4-Item Summer Survival Kit For The Office

Summer Business Casual 2


I find that summer is the trickiest season when it comes to getting dressed for the office. Hot-and-sticky commutes or wide temperature differentials between outdoors and air-conditioned interiors add complication to a workday dressing formula. Those of us who work in offices with a Business Casual dress code have a bit more leeway than our sisters in strictly corporate environments, but more choice can add to the temptation to dress more casually than normal when temperatures rise.

Even if your workplace dress code is very casual, there may be occasions when you need to quickly take it up a notch: an impromptu visit from the division head, a last minute client meeting. Over the years, I’ve found that either planning my workday outfits with one of more of these elements, or even keeping pieces stashed in my office helps me to be ready to look polished, even on the most sweltering days.
Lightweight Blazer
A cotton or linen blazer, whether neutral, bright or printed is one of the quickest and best ways to Bring The Business to Business Casual. Throw on over a simple tee and cotton ankle pants and you’re meeting-ready. Lightweight blazers can be found in a range of prices. Fabrics like cotton and linen are most lightweight and will breathe. If you are worried about wrinkles or need to be a bit more polished, look for lightweight knits or tropical weight wool fabrics.
Gap Twill Blazer
Cotton or Linen Cardigan
If blazers aren’t your thing, a simple cardigan that can be thrown on over a sleeveless dress or top, or even a short sleeved blouse or tee when the a/c thermostat has been ratcheted down to the “meat locker” setting is a versatile option. I wouldn’t be without one. Look for pieces with a bit of heft that will hold their shape, and steer clear of limp, dishrag-y fabrics. One of my favorites year after year is the Jackie Cardigan from J.Crew.
J.Crew Jackie Cardigan
Summery Office Shoes
And you know I don’t mean jeweled flip flops! If sandals are acceptable in your workplace, go for styles with a bit more coverage and that fit snugly to the foot. Leave the loose, floppy sandals for weekends.Next rung up on the formality ladder are peep toes, which are available in wide variety of styles and heel heights.If your office dress code is adamantly “closed toe shoes only,” check out a d’Orsay style which allows a bit more airflow, or styles with cutouts or open weave.
KORS Michael Kors Open Toe Slingbacks
Miz Mooz Joss Green
Deodorant Towlettes
Forgive my indelicacy, but if you’ve ever been dashing around on a lunch hour and realized upon returning to the office that you’re a bit “fragrant,” a stash of these deodorant towelettes in your desk or purse are lifesavers!Crystal towlettes


Do you have any favorite shortcuts for warm weather workplace style?

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for www.unefemme.net. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.
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Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-six, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, Une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.

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11 Responses to “4-Item Summer Survival Kit For The Office”

  1. Virginia

    The deodorant towelettes definitely go with the exercise advice from back in 2008 (I’m going back and reading the archives) that lunch breaks are a great time to go for a walk.

  2. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    Great advice, Une Femme. I keep a lightweight cardigan in the office in case I forget! I prefer knits to structured blazers for comfort, although I love the blazer look. The deodorant swipes are going in my amazon cart today : >

  3. Seraphinalina

    I keep a neutral shawl/pashmina at my desk for days when the A/C gets too cool. In the morning, I think about layers while dressing. I love wide strap tank dresses because like you suggest, I can add a cardigan or light jacket while I’m inside A/C and take it off if it’s too warm. With a wider strap on a structured dress, I still feel work appropriate. The other sleeve I like are flutter sleeves, there is a little shoulder coverage but I still get air flow.

  4. Ingrid

    That is exactly what I do. I keep a cardigan at work at all times – not so much to cover up a too casual style as just to have something to keep myself warm in the frigid summer offices. I usually wear stockings and closed toe shoes at work anyway, but in winter I keep a bunch of high heels under my desk. And I carry a deodorant stick in my purse along with a small packet of baby wipes. I wasn’t aware of this deodorant wipes product before, so thank you, definitely worth adding it to my bag!

  5. Lisa

    These are all great tips! My office is freezing year round, while the summertime temperatures here in Philly are asphalt-meltingly hot. It can be a struggle figuring out how to stay cool yet look professional.

  6. KMH

    Great tips! I also keep a stash of bobby pins in case heat/humidity/rain ruins my hair-do, and Gold Bond medicated powder to keep fresh and prevent thigh chafing (one of the hated things about walking to work in the summer).

  7. Sara

    My armpits usually smell okay. My problem is my feet. My bare feet in shoes or sandals get too fragrant, any tips for that issue? I dont wnt to be stuck sweating away in socks and shoes all summer.

    • Sally

      Sara, does this happen with all sandals or just certain pairs? Sometimes it can be a reaction between your feet and whatever material the shoe soles are made from. If it’s everything, there are foot sprays and powders you can try as well as insoles (including a few that will work for sandals) to help keep odors at bay. Most drug stores have ’em, and so does Amazon. Hope that helps a bit!

      • Sara

        It’s all sandals. It’s definitely my feet. Weird because the rest of me does not have unpleasant body odor. The spray I bought definitely doesn’t work, but I’ll look for some replaceable insoles. Thanks Sally.

  8. Sara

    Thanks KMH for the Gold Bond tip, thigh chafing is an issue that I have been searching for a solution for.

  9. Lisa

    Oh those towelettes are a great idea! I try to keep an extra mascara in my drawer, because for some reason I forget to put it on in the morning occasionally. Of course, then I wind up bringing the extra ones home:( I imagine you are very well organized.