I’ve been subscribing to People Style Watch for years and have found few items that are for women who are more focused on being considered a professional than looking like a model or celebrity. But on Page 72 of the July 2011 issue, they actually address summer wardrobe tips for work. And their suggestions are appropriate! While I disagree with some of the choices they show on the page, the basic advice is solid. My summer wardrobe tips:

  1. Keep It Simple. The more “stuff” you put on, the less professional you look. Strive for a simple skirt and a simple top or go with a shirtdress, which is all the rage. Dangle earrings, bangle bracelets, and multiple layers of necklaces keep the focus on your jewelry rather than on you. If you are trying to convince your co-workers to take you seriously, you need to keep the focus on you!
  2. Be Prepared. With summer’s scorching temperatures outside and sometimes freezing temperatures inside, you need to keep a blazer or sweater on hand. A neutral cotton blazer (black, white, navy, beige) is the best as it has the most structure and is more versatile. When you feel like you are melting in the heat, a structured blazer makes you look more polished. Skip the linen. While it might be cooler, it will look rumpled in 15 minutes.
  3. Choose Sensible Shoes. No flip flops–not even if they have diamond studs on them! Stilettos may look beautiful on your foot, but sends a message to others that you can’t pay attention to your work because you have to pay attention to walking on 5” heels. A closed toe shoe is best; a peep-toe is good, also. Look for lighter colors (match your skin tone) to keep them from looking heavy. If you must wear (and your company allows) strappy sandals, make sure your feet are clean, toes polished and heels scrubbed.
  4. Keep It Covered. Summer invites all sorts of short skirts, plunging necklines and sheer material. Make sure that your skirt is no shorter than 2” above your knees; keep your cleavage (all of it) hidden; and wear a camisole if you are wearing a sheer blouse. Bare legs might be cooler, but if your legs aren’t attractive, find a sheer pair of hosiery. While maxi skirts are all the rage, steer clear. Sitting at your desk in a maxi skirt is the quickest way to ruin it when it gets caught under the wheels of your chair.
  5. When In Doubt, Don’t. If you have to ask if what you’re wearing is okay, you already know that it isn’t. Just because your co-worker shows up dressed inappropriately doesn’t mean you need to jump on the bandwagon. Think of this as your time to show your level-headed thinking and communicate to management that your career is more important than wearing what’s on the cover of the latest style magazine.

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC