How to Stay Cool and Look Cooler at the Office This Summer

While we wouldn’t want to complain about the summer weather finally summer-ing, we’re starting to dread those sweaty commutes and air conditioning wars with our office mates. 

Knowing what to wear to work during the summertime has never been easy, and with lots of us now spending more time in the office than previous years, we’re on the hunt for some tips and tricks that’ll keep us feeling AND looking cool at work all summer long. 

We spoke to Megan Watkins, Head Stylist at online fashion destination SilkFred, who has shared her top tips – from materials, to footwear to how we can repurpose our winter wardrobe for summer, Megan has you covered. 

“When it comes to getting dressed for commuting and the workplace in the hotter months, lots of us are often guilty of throwing on too many clothes in a bid to look office-appropriate and therefore enduring a very uncomfortable and sweaty day. Finding the fine line between looking cool and feeling cool is often a hard balance to strike, especially for those of us whose only goal is to not collapse on the person squished next to you on the tube.”

What about materials?

“My top tip to find this balance is to focus on materials. The best fabrics for summer weather are linens, silks, cotton and lesser found materials like bamboo and lyocell. Any fabric that can absorb moisture will work well in hotter weather.”

“Want to wear a classy co-ord? Find one in a lightweight fabric like linen that can absorb up to as much as ⅕ of its weight before feeling wet or damp. This is a great way to look put together and formal whilst not feeling like a sweaty mess.”

“Alternatively, staple items made from cooling fabrics like a silk maxi skirt in a black or neutral tone or a classic cotton white t-shirt, will keep you feeling fresh and can be used as a base for a variety of different office-appropriate outfits.”

“In those warmer months, I would avoid fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic as they’re man made, synthetic materials and leave little room for breathability. Any item of clothing that is likely to be double-lined like a blazer is best to be put at the back of the cupboard until the winter weather inevitably rolls around again.”

Are there any styles to look out for?

“Styles are also important. Flowy dresses, wide-legged trousers, oversized shirts and anything that doesn’t cling to you is also a great idea for hotter weather. If these items feel too casual for the office, you can always elevate them with some chic accessories, like a wide-buckled belt, sling-back heels or statement headband.”

 “At the moment we’re loving 90s trends and we can predict that this will follow on into the summer seasons. Items like waistcoats, light sweater vests and pleated skirts are key to a chic summer office wardrobe.”

Can you repurpose your winter wardrobe for summer weather?

“As we finally get some warmer weather, many of us feel the need to get shopping and buy ourselves some new season items. However, in the current cost of living crisis and the rising trend of building ‘capsule wardrobes’ it’s important to take stock of what we already have and get creative.”

“We can make our winter wardrobes work for summer by repurposing our staple pieces. For example, the white shirt you’ve been wearing under a knit or sweater vest can now be worn over a summer dress or vest and shorts. Instead of wearing our midi skirts with tights and a blazer, we can pair them with on-trend ballet pumps and baby tee.”

“Other ways we can make our winter wardrobe work for summer is by making simple alterations to pieces we no longer need. For example, the jeans that don’t quite fit the right way anymore can be easily snipped into cut-offs and the midi or maxi dress that doesn’t quite hang in the way you thought it would can be easily fashioned into a top or mini dress.”

“Transitioning between seasons is all about styling. Staple pieces like jeans and shirts can be worn all year long, as long as you know how to style them. A simple switch from a leather boot to a strappy sandal or swapping out your blazer for a sleeveless waistcoat can make the difference between a killer winter outfit to a summer one.”

How can you add colour into your summer work wardrobe?

“Often we think of workwear as a colour palette of blacks, navies, creams, beiges and whites. However, in line with current trends like maximalism, there is a definite case for getting more colour into our workplace wardrobe.”

“An easy way to achieve this is through accessories. Vibrant handbags in key colours like cobalt and tomato red can add a chic point of interest to an otherwise casual outfit. Colour can also be added in hair accessories, like scrunchies and headbands.”

“It is important to note that workwear is often defined by the style of a clothing item. For example, a tailored suit is always going to look professional and formal – so, if you want to go bold and bright with colour, opt for highly tailored pieces like cigarette trousers and blazers in the colour of your choosing.”

“I would suggest that bolder is better. For example, stay away from pastel shades to avoid looking like you’re attending a wedding. Instead, try out some of S/S 24’s key colours like a deep forest green or 70’s yellow.”

What about footwear?

“There is one thing for certain when it comes to office attire: no toes allowed. Luckily, airy but chic and comfortable footwear like ballet pumps are super in right now. A classic black patent pair will be your best friend this summer.”

Anabel Cooper

Anabel is a graduate of King’s College London and upon graduating, she set out on a journey to inspire and empower women through her words. Besides working as a digital marketing expert, Anabel is a freelance copywriter.