Summer Office Attire Dos and Don’ts: Style experts weigh in

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Tank tops and bright colors — like these at the Fashion Truck — are office-appropriate summer styles

It’s finally summer, that sweet time of year when we get to shake off our winter doldrums and shed the extra layers of clothing we’ve been bundled in for the past six months. But though the long, hazy days ahead are synonymous with relaxation, this doesn’t necessarily translate to your work wardrobe. It may be beach weather out there, but that doesn’t mean you can start showing up to the office looking like you’re headed to the shore. We asked four Boston-based style experts to weigh in on the summer staples that are appropriate for the workplace…and those you should save for those weekend seaside jaunts.

Do: Colored Jeans
While jeans are typically seen as a “Friday Only” look, a pair with a pop of color is a great way to show off your personality. The right colored jeans definitely do work at the office, says Dani McDonald, owner of Flock. “It’s a great way to incorporate the colors of the season into your work attire,” says McDonald. For a dressier look, McDonald recommends pairing your jeans with a silk blouse.

Don’t: Flip-Flops
While these casual sandals are many people’s go-to footwear on a swelteringly hot day, flip-flopping your way to your desk won’t win you any marks at the office. Flip-flops should be worn only at the beach, says Emily Benson, founder and owner of The Fashion Truck, a mobile fashion boutique, (various location stops). “There are so many cute ballet flats, leather sandals and wedge options, flip flops shouldn’t even be an option,” says Benson.

Do: Floral Sundresses
Think a fun floral print is too youthful for the office? Think again! “Florals are on trend and work perfect for the office,” says Ann Dingwell, owner of Turtle. As long as the dress is the proper length, and not too low-cut, they’re an office do, says Dingwell. To keep warm in AC blasted offices, Dingwell recommends pairing dresses with a jacket or lightweight cashmere cardigan.

Don’t: Maxi Dresses
While long, flowing maxi dresses are both incredibly comfortable and versatile enough for most occasions, they don’t pass for professional office attire. “Maxi dresses tend to [either] be a little too casual [think beach wear or bathing suit cover ups] or too dressy for a formal work environment,” says Pam Santorelli, owner of Habit. Santorelli recommends saving the maxis for the weekends, when you can dress them up — or down — as needed.

Do: Tank Tops
Gone are the days when baring shoulders at the office was a no-no. Tank tops are great layering pieces for work, just remember to save the rib-knit tanks for the gym. “Tank tops in the office are a do if they’re dressy,” says McDonald. To keep the look work appropriate, McDonald suggests something structured, like a peplum tank, paired with a skirt.

Don’t: Shorts
Unfortunately, the days when baring one’s knees in a pair of shorts are still very much with us. While shorts can exude a preppy confidence, Benson recommends steering clear of them. “There are few occasions and few styles of shorts that actually work for a business setting,” says Benson. So when it’s 90 degrees out there and pants just won’t do, go for a dress, says Benson.

Summer Rules: Our experts also tell us that…

…If you’re wearing open toed shoes or sandals, a pedicure is a must, says Dingwell.
…You should invest in a good strapless bra. Bra straps, especially plastic shouldn’t be seen, says Benson.
…Lightweight dresses can be a little shear, so wear a slip, says Santorelli.
…If you’re not a fan of denim, then colored, ankle length khakis are a great option, says Benson.


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