As Mother Nature begins defrosting and we finally get to shed our winter flannels and boots, you’re likely beyond ready to throw on your sunglasses, shorts, and most trusted pair of sandals and enjoy the sunshine.
However, depending on where you work, this summer paradise likely involves a dress code that restricts your wardrobe, meaning you’ll have to find a way to combine professionalism with comfort in the summer’s heat. An office can quickly turn into an unpleasant sauna without the right kind of HVAC system, and you’ll be stuck sweating puddles around your desk. However, don’t ditch the sundress quite yet — there is hope.
Summer Fashion: I may have lied in my last statement; if your work requires a suit and tie Monday through Friday, it might be a lost cause this summer. For the rest of us, it’s likely your offices’ dress code falls under business casual or something similar.
As fashion experts at Fashion Beans put it, “In a world where Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg can rock up to the office in jeans, a T-shirt and sliders, the very concept of business-casual can seem as relevant as Myspace. But just because you can wear a hoodie, doesn’t mean that you should – certainly not in the last bastions of formality like finance. You still ought to dress up — just not as far.”
In the colder months, your fashion choices tend to revolve around what will you keep you warm and protected from winter’s wrath. There isn’t a lot of guessing work when it comes to layering up, and one could argue that fall and winter attire is just naturally more professional looking (it’s easier to add pieces than take away).
When summer arrives though, navigating your company’s dress code and finding pieces that will keep you cool in the rising temperatures can get tricky. Your boss will likely not appreciate your favorite pair of flip-flops, but ballerina flats or peep-toe shoes are great alternatives that will still give your feet some room to breathe.
Pants may be a requirement, meaning you’ll have to save the shorts for the weekends, but finding pants with made-for-heat material can save you a lot of sweat. Linen and chambray are some great examples. Overall, focus more on the business part of business-casual, but keep in mind that stuffiness doesn’t have to be involved.
Summer Health: Perhaps, despite your best fashion efforts, your office is still unbearable in the summer months, and the thought of wearing a smart blazer to work sounds as much fun as skiing in a pair of swim trunks. Considering that weather affects our body mentally and physically, it’s important to make adjustments in your daily routine for each season, especially if your work’s AC never seems to be working each summer.
Taking your breaks during the cooler hours of the day can provide some relief against the heat. Additionally, adding more water to your daily routine when summer arrives will keep you well-hydrated, especially if find yourself sweating a lot. It’s also worth noting that the hot weather can cause some health issues beyond heat stroke and exhaustion. This is a good time to make sure you have a nice office water dispenser in your workplace to provide cold filtered water.
Being exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time can spell trouble for people with conditions such as varicose veins. According to Center for Vein, “In addition to the general discomfort we’re all familiar with, hot weather can prove especially problematic for those suffering from varicose veins by sparking the emergence of irritating symptoms like itching, swelling, and cramping in the legs.” With that in mind, if your work is restrictive with its dress code but also struggles to properly cool down the office, it’d be worth asking for remote work on especially hot days or asking them to improve the HVAC systems.
You do have a right to a safe work environment, and that includes working in a space that is comfortable, clean, and well-maintained. People are also more likely to be more productive if they aren’t forced to work through the heat and the negative effects that come with it.
Summer is usually long-anticipated after dealing with the snow and cold for months, however, that excitement can quickly fizzle out when it comes to working in a hot, stuffy office. Looking professional is important for most jobs, and although it can be tempting to arrive in those summer staples, sticking to breathable yet smart, trendy pieces will help keep you cool and avoid a meeting with HR.
Also, don’t be afraid to speak up if your office is simply not regulated well enough. Health is a concern in hot weather, and bringing the fact up to your higher ups could result in a much-needed change. Good luck!