Reader Heather sent me this question:
I’m a music teacher in rural Southeast Missouri, and when I’m doing an August band camp, it is ridiculously hot (think 95+ degrees with 100% humidity for 7 hours, no AC). A lot of blogs have articles on how to dress professionally during the summer, but they are almost all geared towards people who work in an (overly) air conditioned office. I think there’s a tendency to assume that people who need to dress professionally work indoors, while outdoor workers need to dress in a less polished way. I also look very young, so shorts, flip flops and tank tops just don’t work, and are against dress code anyway.
And she’s so right – most blog posts on professional hot weather looks aren’t geared toward anyone teaching outside in August in southern Missouri. Most of what I’m recommending today is specific to looking somewhat dressy while working outdoors, but I hope some of it will be helpful to those of you who live in extremely hot, humid climates but work indoors. Here we go!
Explore athletic brands
My mind goes directly to Athleta, Title Nine, Prana, Toad & Co and the other athletic/streetwear companies. (Many of which are on Amazon, too, often on deep discount.) They can hook you up with dresses that wick and won’t wrinkle, and will help you look great without suffocating you. This one looks fantastic. These brands can also get you set up with some cute skirts and skorts – this one wicks!
Incorporate a few cotton knits
Regular jersey or ribbed cotton tanks can look a little casual, but a cotton sweater shell like this will breathe and look more polished. (They can also be thrifted very easily.)
Wear button-fronts as jackets
For days when you do want a bit more coverage, skip cardigans and pick up a short-sleeved linen camp shirt. You can wear it as a jacket over a tank and pants, or even tie it at the waist unbuttoned over a dress. This one comes in a bunch of colors. You can also try this trick with long-sleeved shirts in any natural fiber, and cuff the sleeves for more ventilation.
Try cropped pants
In terms of pants, finding some unlined cotton crops in neutrals would be a good start. Ann Taylor has these, and J.Crew has a slim and a wide leg. It’s amazing how much an exposed ankle affects your overall body temperature!
Upgrade your tees
A well-made tee can make a huge difference, and Everlane’s are fantastic AND sustainable. I like the drop-shoulder style myself, which has a slightly boxy/shorter fit. Look for tees with smooth finishes and interesting necklines or meticulously finished hemlines.
Try stylish sneakers and oxfords
So long as you don’t need serious coverage for actual foot protection (which you might, of course), you could try a perforated oxford like this or this. Keds usually look good with dresses, too, as do Converse low tops if your work skews casual. Also explore comfort brands like Clarks and ECCO, both of which design shoes that are relatively professional-looking but durable.
**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.