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Maintaining Business Casual Professionalism During the Hottest Days of Summer

Man wearing a brown jacket, white shirt, and sunglasses from his summer wardrobe outdoors while standing on the city street.

The easy days of summer are here. Unfortunately, this can mean oppressive heat, high levels of humidity, and the sun’s relentless rays beating down on you during your work day. Dressing professionally during the summer can be a labyrinth of choices that leave you feeling underdressed or overdressed for practically every occasion. If the contradictory term “business casual” makes you wonder how to dress for work and survive the summer heat, help is coming. Learn what fabrics and styles from your summer wardrobe help you beat the heat and maintain your professional appearance. 

Wearing Summer Layers

Layers can add professionalism to any attire and help you navigate the changing temperatures from steamy parking lots to air-conditioned offices or restaurants with ease. Yet, the wrong fabrics and styles can trap heat, making you sweaty and uncomfortable no matter where you are. Successful summer layering is about the right fabrics and colors to ward off heat and enable cooling.

When choosing layers, begin with breathable natural fabrics in light colors. Linen, bamboo, and lightweight cotton are ideal for summer. Opt for pieces that are unlined or half-lined to avoid trapping heat. You can get away with a looser fit than with winter layers since these materials eliminate bulk. However, it’s essential that clothing maintains a tailored look instead of appearing baggy or ill-fitting. For example, ensure pants fit properly at your waist and hips and avoid shirts that balloon out with extra fabric. 

How to Wear Polos and T-Shirts

Trading your crisp button-up shirts for knits can be confusing. Yet, the right approach can keep you cool while maintaining your professional appearance. If your workplace doesn’t have an overly strict dress code, polo shirts (and sometimes t-shirts) are a great balance between comfort and professionalism. Choose polos in neutral colors that are well-fitted and have a neat collar. If t-shirts are an option, take a similar approach, choosing smooth fabrics, no graphics, and neutral colors that will provide an understated appearance. 

Pair these more casual shirts with dressier items for a pulled-together appearance. This can include lightweight dress pants or dress jeans or trousers, a sports coat, and a belt. Tucked polo shirts lend a neater appearance, and loafers instead of sneakers can elevate the overall look. 

Summer Business Colors

For many men, the go-to professional attire is black, charcoal, or navy. Yet, these dark colors are certain to absorb the sun’s rays, making you feel hotter the moment you step outside. Lighter colors reflect light, making them naturally cooler. When choosing light colors, search for shades that maintain your professional appearance and will be easy to mix and match. Summer neutrals typically include white, grey, olive, light blue, cream, tan, and beige. 

Walking the Line Between Business Casual and Casual Fridays

When you’re accustomed to wearing suits and ties, summer wardrobe staples can leave you feeling underdressed. The secret to avoiding the casual Friday look on Monday morning is in the details. While t-shirts and polos may be an option, they’re not the same ones you wear on the weekends for a trip to the beach or a morning at the golf course. Choose fitted garments that look smooth and tailored. Avoid overly bright colors, logos, and graphics. Chinos are a widely accepted option for many office settings, but styles vary widely. Seek lightweight cotton or wool pants with minimal details. A straight cut, few visible pockets, and unobtrusive stitching details offer a professional look in any color. 

Accessories can go a long way toward dressing up casual garments. Wear a belt and leather shoes with a tucked shirt to dress up casual pants. Similarly, a lightweight linen blazer atop a casual cotton shirt adds a layer of polish.

Keeping Single-Layer Ensembles Professional

While you can wear layers in summer, single-layer ensembles are an acceptable way to beat the summer heat. Choosing dressier garments can help you achieve the same polish as layered looks. A crisp long-sleeved button-front shirt pairs nicely with chinos or lightweight dress trousers for a professional appearance. Sleeves can be rolled to the elbow to keep cool outdoors. Your favorite polo can be an option here, too. When opting for casual separates, consider a singular color palate to keep the look subdued. Accessories like belts and shoes go a long way here, too, elevating a casual look to business wear. 

Update Your Summer Wardrobe at Family Britches

Choosing what to wear to work in the summer shouldn’t make you break out into a sweat. High-quality clothing in summer fabrics and colors allows you to maintain your professional appearance while staying comfortable in any environment.  Getting a professional summer wardrobe is easy when you shop at Family Britches. We stock all types of summer wear including business separates and ensembles. Get in touch with our friendly team or drop by the store to get the clothes you need to beat the summer heat.

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