Business Casual Summer Outfit Ideas for Men in Chicago

Business Casual Summer Outfit Ideas for Men in Chicago

Warm weather is here and you’re ready to transition your office wardrobe to fit the season. Your summer office look should help you transition seamlessly from spring to summer and from a hot and humid midwestern summer commute to your air-conditioned downtown office.

We understand that there may be some confusion about what is considered business casual in the world of men’s clothing so we’re here to help. Keep your cool at work this summer with lightweight layers and a few casually cool professional pieces. With just a few key adjustments to your current business casual wardrobe, you can maintain your professional vibe while staying cool and comfortable all season long.

First: What is Business Casual?

In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of fashion and seasonal trends, dress codes and attire expectations can get confusing. How do you know what is appropriate? How can you comfortably express your personal style while also staying within the professional workspace margins?

Business casual is simply a way of saying that you aren’t expected to wear a suit and tie, but otherwise, you want to dress fairly professionally. Think slacks and loose button-ups rather than pressed dress pants and starched shirts with cuff links. Many offices with a business casual dress code may even have a “casual Friday”, where employees are still expected to dress fairly professionally but may wear men’s jeans or street sneakers on this day.

Material Considerations

One of the most important factors to consider while building your summer work wardrobe is the fabric of the clothes you’ll be wearing. The weight and breathability of different types of fabrics can make all the difference in how your work week pans out when the summer temps start rising.

Sweat-wicking synthetic materials can be great for this, but for the office, we recommend breathable natural materials such as linen or a men’s chambray shirt Pair your easy breezy summer work shirt with a pair of lightweight chinos.

Day-to-day Chicago Business Casual

The city that you live and work in has a major impact on what is considered appropriate for the workplace, or what the definition of “business casual” is. For example, if you were working in Miami or somewhere with more a more tropical climate, it might be perfectly acceptable or even expected to wear shorts to the office in the summer. In Northern and Midwestern regions, however, it is typically expected that you wear slacks or men’s chinos.

For your daily commute and office work, though, you can tap into some of this casual cool vibe and wear short-sleeved button-downs. Some office cultures may even allow for a polo shirt.

How to Dress for Meetings and Presentations

Even if your office environment is business casual in the day-to-day, we know you still want to dial your style up a notch when it comes to big meetings, or lunch with a client.

Take the time to elevate your look from your go-to business casual summer outfit to give off the exact professional vibe you want. Sometimes simply adding a men’s blazer to your business casual look can be just the piece you need to completely change your style.

Layered-up But Keeping Your Cool

Moving to a new city or starting a new job doesn’t mean tossing your old work wardrobe. Many even non-officewear summer essentials that you already have can easily be incorporated into your office look.

Even summertime in the Windy City can have its cool days. A windbreaker bomber jacket is a great lightweight transitional piece that compliments your business casual vibe. The business casual dress code also allows for layers such as men’s cardigan sweaters, which can be worn over a button-up or t-shirt, and/or under a blazer.

After-Work: Events and Cocktail Hours

For after-hours events, dinner meetings, or happy hour with your coworkers, your layered style will come in handy. For an after-hours work event, it’s likely that the dress code will remain business casual, but we recommend adding a slightly dressy flair to your office outfit in these situations. If you wear sneakers to the office, for example, consider swapping them out for dress shoes for nighttime events.

A summer blazer is a fantastic business casual piece that everyone should have in their office wardrobe. Choose a lighter fabric (think cotton, not wool) for comfortable summer layering. In keeping with the business casual vibe, pair your blazer with men’s dress pants of a different color. For example, a brown or navy blue blazer will pair great with khaki or grey slacks. Mixing up the colors in this way keeps your look fresh and casually cool, while still being office-appropriate.

Shoes and Accessories

The right men’s shoes can also be an incredibly important aspect of your workplace wardrobe. Summertime business casual footwear can include loafers, oxfords, Chelsea boots, or monks. These are great choices for summer in the city, as they weather well on hot sidewalks and complement almost any outfit.

Don’t forget that accessories like ties, belts, and briefcases can also be used to elevate your office style.

With these hot tips and style tricks, you’re sure to keep your casual cool at the office this summer.


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