Dressing for work is hard enough without the added element of serious summer heat or bitter winter winds – especially in today’s workplace where casual wear is becoming increasingly popular, making it difficult for us to understand what’s acceptable and what’s pushing it a little too far.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean your work or interview attire has to be boring and out of character – you can still let your personality shine through your wardrobe with an HR-approved outfit, whatever the season!
As the seasons change, this guide will help you fight the distress and pick an office-appropriate outfit, for a suitable 9-5 style:
As the temperatures rise, just the thought of wearing your usual work attire is enough to make you feel flustered, never mind the actual process of getting dressed. But these stylish spring and summer workwear suggestions will help you feel cool and look even better during the hotter months.
Just because your office has a formal dress code, you don’t need to sweat it out in a two-piece suit to look the part. Choose a light-weight, high-waisted pair of trousers with breezy blouses or shirts that still look fitting in a professional environment. Keep your shoes closed at the front and opt for heeled sling backs if your feet are prone to swelling.
In a professional environment, you’ll most likely be meeting clients in person on a daily basis. ‘Fabrics like silk and cotton are great in summer as they are light-weight and breathe’, says Denis Todorovic, the style editor at Cosmopolitan. You can play with colours and opt for a nude blouse or camel-coloured shift-dress that ticks both the professional and the fashion-forward boxes.
In a corporate casual environment, shorter hemlines are acceptable, as are open-toe sandals and cropped trousers. For a chic summer outfit, opt for culottes or midi skirts paired with a floral print chiffon blouse and a few statement accessories.
Many millennials confuse casual with ‘what you wore to bed last night’. In other words, don’t turn up to work in what could very well be your PJs. You can mix and match casual and smart pieces to get an uber-cool look, like a shirt-dress with smart plimsoles or a knee-length skirt with a casual tee.
Fashion brands and media agencies tend to have a creative environment where employees have the freedom to express their personality through their clothes. If you work in a more artistic setting like these, you can throw on your favourite vintage dress with your patent flats or even experiment with logo T-shirts and light denim jeans.
In a formal environment, it’ll be extremely hard to move away from the two-piece (if not three-piece) suit. However, you can select more breathable materials and lighter colours that won’t attract the heat as much as, say, black clothes do. Be sure to take your blazer off when the boss isn’t around to get a little air circulation going on!
In a professional workplace, short sleeve shirts are acceptable but, unfortunately, you’ll need to keep your legs covered with smart suit trousers. You can select a lighter colour to make your look a little more seasonal.
You can experiment with patterns and colours when it comes to your summer wardrobe for work. Polo T-shirts are common among corporate casual environments and can be paired with classic cut chinos and loafers.
If you work in a casual environment, you’ll be thankful that you can wear your favourite pair of jeans to work or, dare I say, chino shorts. Just be sure to look smart and not sloppy – everything should be pressed correctly and clean!
Although you may be allowed to wear whatever you want to work, remember that it’s a working environment, nonetheless, so avoid rocking up in baseball shorts and dirty trainers. Instead, opt for cargo shorts, Vans and your favourite tee.
Ah, the winter chills can only mean one thing: wrapping up warm. Sadly, a onesie is an unacceptable office outfit (bummer!), meaning you need to update your wardrobe and choose office attire that keeps you both warm and that looks smart.
These outfit ideas will help you beat the winter blues and get excited about your workwear wardrobe!
A checked, wool power suit is ideal for the cold winter months, as are shift dresses with opaque tights and your favourite office heals.
For your winter office look, opt for smart wide-legged trousers and long-sleeve blouses or maxi skirts with button-up shirts. Also, oversized jackets will match literally anything that you put together.
Flowy dresses and knee-high boots are the perfect duo in a corporate casual environment, as well as ruffle midi skirts paired with knit jumper and suede ankle boots. Try mixing different textures and fabrics to see what you feel comfortable in.
In a more relaxed work environment, you can wear knitted dresses, dark jeans, chunky knits and seasonal colours and patterns. If you’re dealing with a seasonal transition, opt for an oversized shirt tucked into a pair of dark denim jeans with a matching blazer.
No matter how cold it is, ditch the Ugg boots and save them for lounging around the house. Instead, choose Timberland boots and jeans if you want to beat the cold – just avoid throwing on your favourite hoodie, and go for a fleeced crew neck, instead!
You don’t have to sacrifice your smart look in the colder months – you just need to learn how to layer properly. Start with a base layer (a T-shirt), then pop on a dress shirt and a tie as normal, an optional waistcoat or smart jumper on top of that and then, finally, a suit jacket or blazer.
For a professional environment, you can ditch the tie and pocket sweater, and wear an open collar underneath your wool or cashmere jumper, instead. Don’t forget to invest in a heavy-weight pea coat that will smarten up your office wear.
For a business casual dress code, select a pair of your favourite winter chinos and match them with a heavy-duty shirt and a smart jumper. If you’re super cold, you can throw a casual blazer on top, too.
If you’re not restricted to a strict dress code, you can add your own spin on your winter wardrobe. You could layer a T-shirt, shirt and jumper with dark, denim jeans and a pair of classic winter boots. Or, if you’re feeling daring, you could add a chunky, knitted cardigan over a light-weight wool jumper.
Although you might want to rock up in your tracksuit bottoms, it’s best to save these for the weekend. Instead, wear something edgy like worn denim jeans with your favourite knitted jumper and a pair of Vans. Heck, why not even throw a beanie into the mix?
- Dress respectably: Even if you have a super cool and casual boss, it’s important to dress respectfully in the office. So, ladies, don’t let your lingerie show through your clothes or wear any provocative clothing – and gents, make sure your clothes are ironed, your beard trimmed and that you ditch the baseball hat.
- Choose the right fit: Make sure your clothes fit properly; colleagues can easily get distracted by a man’s tie that’s too short or a woman’s blouse that’s just a little too tight. Likewise, if you’re swimming in your workwear, it will look as though you don’t look after yourself.
- Complement your look with the right hairstyle: You might have nailed your work look, but having the hairstyle to match is also important – both for men and women.
- Keep your make-up natural: A soft and natural finish is ideal for the workplace. Save the heavy eyeshadows and cat eyes for the weekend – after all, you don’t want to distract your colleagues with over-the-top glam!
- Make an effort: Are you guilty of waking up, throwing on the most available clothes before rushing out the door to catch the 8:05am train? If so, wake up a little earlier and put some effort into getting ready for work; you’ll feel a lot more put-together and professional by doing so!
- Choose your outfit the night before: This top tip is a total game-changer. By preparing your outfit the night before, you can save time faffing around in the morning, searching for something to wear when you’re half asleep. It’s important to check your weather app to know what to prepare for, too!
- Avoid distracting colours: Neon colours are a big no-no! Base your outfits on basics and build with different textures and patterns. Any bright or neon colours will only distract your colleagues!
Dressing for success is extremely important in the workplace – in fact, Nicole Williams, a career expert at LinkedIn says that “the problem with appearance is that it translates to performance… Even if your boss doesn't think that they're thinking any less of you, they will subconsciously think it’. In other words, to impress all the right people in all the right places, you should spend a little more time perfecting your outfit.
Do you struggle with the changing seasons at work? If so, let us know what your transitional go-to outfits are for the summer and winter in the comments section below…