Men's Style Guide: Dressing for the Office During the Summer

Men's Style Guide: Dressing for the Office During the Summer

Summer is a wonderful time of year. The sun is out, vacations are coming, and families spend quality break time together. Before all that, though, you have to make the money to have the fun. Going to the office in the summer, depending on where you live, might be a lot less fun. But how to avoid sweaty suits while still projecting a trustworthy image of competence? Here are several outfit ideas and tips for dressing for the office during the summer.

A Suit in Summer?

If you are a suit kind of guy (or need to be for your job), it's not an easy outfit to work in the heat. However, there are some elements that can make a suit bearable.

The first is material. Suits tend to come in wool, tweed, cotton, and linen. The first two fabrics are classic and the kind of material most guys choose if they plan to buy just one or two suits. But they tend to be a bit heavier and more appropriate for the colder months. The last two fabrics, cotton and linen, are thinner and are more comfortable to wear during the summer months. If you need to have a closet of suits anyway, make sure there are a few in there made of these materials so you can stay cool in the warm-weather months.

The second element is color. We know that dark colors absorb heat, basically cooking you. However, dark colors tend to be chosen for suits because they hide stains and dirt and because many dark neutral colors, like charcoal and navy, look good on most guys. All fair points. You do have to take better care of lighter neutral colors, like creams and grays, but they can look just as good on you as the darker neutrals. And the trade-off might be worth it if there is an incoming heatwave. Between lighter colors and lighter fabrics, suits have a better chance of keeping you refreshed and functioning than you would think.

Working a Vest

If you need to be dressed well, but not always as formally as wearing a full suit, check into getting a vest that goes well with some of the pairs of dress pants you have. A vest delivers a similarly sophisticated impression with less material, letting you stay cool both in terms of temperature and style in the summer. A white long-sleeved dress shirt rolled up over the elbow matched with a gray pinstriped vest and pants combination would be very refined. If you wanted to be a little more informal, a light blue shirt with a darker blue patterned vest and solid navy tie would work together over tan pants.

If you can take a step further toward casual, a thin sweater vest could also work for summer. A white shirt with a cream sweater vest and striped tie over gray dress pants is a very posh academic look. A gray sweater vest and black pants could be swapped in to change up the color scheme. Patterned sweater vests can work, provided the pattern is subtle and tasteful, like dark blue or dark gray argyle. Sweater vests could potentially be paired with nice jeans, but you'll want to be careful with that match-up: you don't want the casual effect of jeans and the reserved formality of your sweater vest to clash.

The Classic Shirt (and Tie)

If your blazer is something you have to have handy but don't necessarily have to wear your entire workday, plan on championing the shirt and tie combination. If the tie can be optional (or easily put back on when you are in a hurry), great! There are some excellent solid color combinations to which you could add most any tie within the color palette. A white shirt and light brown pants make one of those outfits that recall English gentlemen in the desert. If they can wear it and survive the heat, it's probably a good choice. Switching the pants to gray gives you different color options for ties, and changing the white shirt to light blue works with either set of pants.

Patterned shirts, especially blue and white patterns, can keep you cooler than some of the darker solids. These work with navy pants and with lighter cream pants. Just be careful that the patterns and colors are different enough that your tie doesn't just visually blend into your shirt and disappear. When in doubt, choose a solid-colored tie in a dark color that stands out well. A short-sleeved collared shirt is a casual hipster look that might make it at the office, depending on where you work. A tie with a short sleeve can look a bit discordant, so be careful before putting those two together.

Don't forget to match your belt and your dress shoes, and remember your statement watch. With that, you are ready for work!

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