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a summer working wardrobe that works as hard as you do


I’ve focused on casual wardrobes recently – summer seems to lend itself so well to casual wear – but I have had requests from those of you with actual real life jobs to please track down and post a wardrobe for the full time office workers among us. And since I am nothing if not obliging, here you go!

A summer work wardrobe provides a number of challenges:

  1. Looking smart, on the whole, requires more layers (a jacket or cardigan over a top) and warmer fabrics (a lined pencil skirt or tailored trousers are always going to be warmer than an a-line cotton skirt or linen trousers), leading to potential overheating problems.
  2. Many offices have somewhat over-enthusiastic air-conditioning, meaning that you are baking every time you step outside the door for a meeting or lunch, but freezing at your desk.
  3. High heels in summer can be a misery, especially if your feet are prone to swelling or sweating (and therefore rubbing).
  4. Cooler fabrics such as cotton or linen look inherently less smart than winter fabrics like wool.

Obviously you want your wardrobe to solve as many of these issues as possible. Some top tips for making your summer work wardrobe work as hard as you do:

  1. Choose natural fibres wherever possible, but don’t be afraid of trying modern natural fibres such as viscose and rayon too – these can look smarter and sleeker than the traditional cotton and linen.
  2. Stick to a slick and limited colour palette that is summery yet professional. Keeping your colours pared down will make you look professional and smart even in more casual fabrics.
  3. Layer up if you have air conditioning – a vest or top with a cardigan or jacket means you can look smart while having an easily removable layer if the temperature increases. A lightweight silk scarf can also do wonders against a determinedly breezy air conditioning unit!
  4. If you need to wear a jacket all day, consider a sleeveless rather than a sleeved top underneath. A camisole isn’t going to be smart enough for a day at work, but a sleeveless square or v-neck is going to be fine for the odd time you don’t need your jacket on.
  5. If you are prone to hot feet, go for smart sandals or, if open toed shoes aren’t appropriate for your office, try court shoes with sling back or cut outs.
  6. Go for cool feel tights (such as these M&S ones) in as fine a denier as you can get away with without putting a toe through every time you get dressed.