As any professional can attest, dressing for business in the spring and summer months can be challenging in the heat and high humidity. While striving to build or maintain that hard earned business reputation, avoid the temptation to slack on office style in the name of cool and casual attire. Remember, your office wardrobe reflects your professional taste, along with your polish year round, no matter the temperature outside.
When clothing selections hit the mark, they contribute to job search, interviewing and workplace success because they reflect good judgment. However, a wardrobe miscalculation is more than a once-off. It brings a lack of judgment to the forefront. Candidate and employee judgment is an important topic during the spring and summer months as warm and then hot weather makes its appearance.
- Mirror, Mirror: Be sure to have a full-length mirror installed so when you dress, you can do a 360 in the mirror. When you do this, analyze yourself and imagine viewing your image as the interviewer, hiring manager, CEO, or top client. Ask yourself “Do I build trust and inspire respect from the interviewer’s perspective?” “How will they feel about doing business with me wearing clothing like this?” If the response isn’t 100% positive- reconsider your attire.
- Pops of Personality: While a corporate wardrobe may sound like a downer for some, personalize it by adding small touches that express taste and personality. Pops of color such as scarves, ties, pocket squares, and statement jewelry are fun ways to tastefully express yourself without overdoing it.
- Organize into Work and Play: It doesn’t matter how small or tiny your closet is, organize accordingly. My friends laugh at my tiny condo closet. I divide clothes & shoes I wouldn’t ever wear to meet a client and those for parties on the weekend into different areas. Then there is no confusion- and no temptation to wear your denim capris on a weekday.
- Outfit Preparation. As my mother taught me: prepare for the next week on Sunday, prepare for the next day the night before. Check the weather, and pull together that wardrobe or at least make a list of what to wear; be sure it is clean and pressed so you’re not scrambling to find an unwrinkled blouse early in the morning.
- Definite Don’ts: No matter the industry, some clothing items and trends are off-limits due to their lack of professionalism. Overly casual clothing such as “athleisure,” flip flops, tennis shoes, skorts, jumpers, shorts, capris, and leggings are unprofessional. Jeans on non-designated days are also definite no-go. Also avoid showing cleavage, midriff, legs above the knee and too much skin. Backless blouses, crop-tops, mini skirts, sheer fabric, and spaghetti straps are reserved for social events on the weekend.
While you don’t have to be perspiring in a pantsuit, maintaining a clean, polished office aesthetic is crucial during spring and summer. As the temperatures warm up and our winter gear goes to storage, remember these rules to maintain a professional and stylish presentation that gives the right impression to colleagues and clients.
Sharon Schweitzer and Amanda Alden co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary seriesConfucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards
Amanda Alden is an intercultural research assistant with Access to Culture. She graduated with honors from St. Edward’s University with a major in Global Studies and a minor in French, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Intercultural Mediations at l’Université de Lille III. Feel free to connect with Amanda at on LinkedIn.