Professional Dress Code Tips for Spring/Summer

Dressing professionally in the warm days of spring and summer can be really confusing. Bold colour or standard black/grey? How short should your skirts and dresses be? Are shorts and sandals ever appropriate?

When dressing to meet clients or collaborators, we want to strike the perfect chord between expressing our personality and creativity through our clothes and looking responsible and professional. Here are a few pieces of warm weather wardrobe advice for men and women:

–Look for fabrics like linen and cotton that will keep you cool even when you have to wear long sleeves or pants. A white linen cardigan, for example, will pair perfectly with a coloured tank and khakis on both guys and girls. Plus, linen and cotton will both absorb sweat on those non air conditioned days.

–Shy away from the usual black and add some colour to your look. Right now, pastels like light blue, lavender and soft yellow are in style, or you can look ├╝ber-stylish by playing with the bold colour blocking trend that’s huge right now. Keep your choice of colour looking professional by choosing a piece that’s more conservative, like a bright purple blouse worn with a black skirt or an orange camisole with a navy cardigan. I’m also a sucker for pastel button up shirts with grey or khaki bottoms on both guys and gals.

–For ladies, an easy test to check your hemline on your dress or skirt is to place your arms straight by your side and check the hem against your fingertips. At or below is generally acceptable; anything above and you risk looking too casual.

–Shorts or no shorts? I don’t think that shorts are necessarily an automatic faux paux, but I would suggest the following: go with solid colour cotton shorts that hit about an inch or two above the knee. Too long and you look sloppy; too short and you look like you’re going to the beach. Black cotton bermudas paired with a flowy top and nice heels is a great way to incorporate this look for girls, while guys can pair with a nice linen t-shirt or untucked button- up and stylish shoes. If you’re not sure, ankle pants or capris are always a safe choice. Another popular trend is to pair bermudas or capris with a bold coloured blazer (think bright pink or blue).

–For guys, a nice alternative to the button-up shirt is the polo shirt. Lacoste and Ralph Lauren are great choices, and preppy enough to dress up a pair of shorts.
Look for a light cardigan or blazer to throw over your shoulders during more formal business meetings or air conditioned rooms. No bra straps please ladies! Keep cleavage to a minimum and consider layering a camisole underneath if you’re unsure.

–Keep your footwear fairly conservative. Sandals are generally acceptable provided your feet are groomed. I always like to see “backing” on summer footwear, like slingbacks or gladiator sandals. And please, please don’t wear flip flops!

Corrie Peters will be out and about judging your fashion choices this summer. You can check out her blogazine here.