Dress the Part: Summer Business Attire

Summer is in full swing, and with the warm weather come questions of what is appropriate to wear to a job interview or even to work. In April we blogged about dressing the part What to Wear to a Job Interview. Most of the same rules apply for a summer job interview (you want to look professional, even if it’s 90 degrees outside), but how about the work dress code?

Dr. Gretchen Gunn, principal of corporate staffing company MGD Services, Inc., says summer brings out the “sins of the skin” as she calls them. Generally speaking if you would wear it to the beach, dance club or the gym, you should not wear it to work. Dr. Gunn goes on to say that for women the “‘no-go zones’ are bra straps, belly buttons, flip flops, and any revealing tops… For men, flip flops are also ‘no-go zones’, as are bare shoulders, shorts, ripped denim, and button down shirts with too many buttons down.”

A number of sources including, the Society for Human Resource Management, provide sample lists of what is acceptable work attire. Such lists can be a helpful resource if you’re new to a company and aren’t sure of what’s acceptable to wear in the summer. The SHRM outlines, what clothes are “safe.” Once you have an idea of what your co-workers wear when the weather’s warm, then you can adjust your attire. It’s always best to be safe, than sorry! Remember, flip-flops are rarely, if ever, acceptable in the workplace!

Ladies, if you’re feeling particularly sunny when you wake up in the morning, why not try pairing a knee-length summer dress with a bright blazer like this one pictured on the left? If you’re not sure about whether open toe shoes are permitted, try peep-toe heels.

Guys, want to get away from the traditional black, gray and navy color schemes? Try a bright button down shirt and a pair of tan oxfords, like the ones pictured on the bottom right.

So even on those really hot days when you just want to wear shorts and flip-flops, remember that if you’re working for a private company “you can be fired because the company doesn’t like your shoes… once you walk into a private employers workplace, your rights are limited,” explains Robert D. Lipman, manager of the New York employment firm Lipman & Plesur, LLP. As always, looking put-together is important and you want to make a good first impression every time you start your day, not just when you go in for the interview! Finding a balance between comfort, self expression and professional attire is key, after all, you don’t want to jeopardize your job for the sake of wearing a pair of sandals. If you’re unsure of what to wear on those hot days, you can also ask your boss or someone from your HR department for a copy of the company business attire policy.

What do you wear to work in the summer? Please share your pictures with us!