It is not that easy to have workwear that is chic and cool instead of sticky and sweaty during a heat wave.
The more the mercury climbs, the more your outfit shrinks, sticks and the more you could expose yourself.
It’s at this time of the year that my phone rings for my interactive conference “Dress for Success“. Inspired by this training activity, here are ten tips to be comfortable and continue to shine confidence and credibility during a heat wave.
1) Respect your employer’s dress code.
When in doubt, contact your Human Resources or ask your supervisor.
If you are an HR professional, now is the right time to circulate your policy or print and post this this colorful infographic.
2) Dress for your client.
Whether you work in a trendy advertising agency or in a classic professional firm, even in hot muggy weather, you need to be in control of what you can and should do during your work day.
Do you regularly stretch or bend to reach objects? What could your boss, colleague and client see when your body moves a bit too far away and your clothing flows?
Above all, don’t dress as if you are on vacation, unless you work at a day camp or Club Med.
3) Ladies; do the “Hand-high / hand-low” test.
Validate the depth of your neckline, as well as the length of your skirt and dress hemlines with your hand; left or right, the choice is yours
Hand high for your neckline: place the thumb of your hand at the base of your neck, in the hollow. With your fingers together, where your little finger falls, is usually the acceptable depth of a work neckline.
Low hand for your skirt’s or your dress’s hemline: place your hand over your knee. Your pinkie touches the top. Always with your fingers together, place your hand on your thigh. Your thumb limits the proper height for the edge of your skirt or dress. Or, when your hand runs along your body, where your middle finger lands, dictates the perfect hemline for you.
While in testing mode, practice crossing legs in front of the mirror. Does your skirt rise a little or a lot? Adjust accordingly.
4) Choose loose clothing, light fabrics and summer colours.
Don’t restrict your breathing by avoiding tight clothing. Also avoid nylon or polyester fabrics. When it’s hot, they stick to the skin. Choose natural fabrics that breathe like bamboo, cotton or linen. A palette of light clothing blocks the infra-red rays of the sun and reflects the heat. On the flip side dark tones attract the rays and absorb the heat.
5) Avoid flip-flops.
Here are three sensory reasons that should discourage you from the temptation to wear them to work.
- Sight: what others will see. You will be judged on the quality of your pedicure, or lack thereof. Think about it. Would you like to see Big Boss’ Big toe with an extra long nail…?
- Sound: what others will hear. Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Is distracting and interrupts the flow of productivity.
- Scent: what others … sniff, sniff, will smell. “Eau de petits pieds” is never a popular fragrance. That odour is hard to hide and is embarrassing for everyone, including you.
Before choosing a sandal, look at your feet and toes. What will others interpret? Chipped nail polish or ingrown toenail could steal the show during your presentation or an important interview.
Depending on your job, wearing sandals can also be dangerous, unsafe and unhygienic. Make this choice wisely.
6) Say no to beach or gym wear.
Although the sporty athletic look is very trendy, shorts, cargo pants, yoga clothes, sweat pants, are not usually part of a suitable work attire unless you work at the beach or at the gym.
7) Reserve lycra, spandex, shiny or transparent fabrics for your outings.
Unless you work in a bar, as my maternal grandmother Florina would say, they could be thought of as clothing to stay up late. Obviously, depending on the style, they can be worn under a jacket or a cardigan. You should be able to work comfortably without being embarrassed by what will be seen. What is showing should not compete with what you have to say.
8) Your underwear must remain a secret.
Just like the name of the famous brand, Victoria’s Secret, your panties and your bra should not be visible in work mode.
9) Before leaving, validate your choices with the mirror test.
Not sure about your clothing choices? Look at your reflection in the mirror. Ask yourself this question “If Ms. CEO or Mr. Client unexpectedly invites me to luncheon at 10 to twelve, am I dressed appropriately? If your answer is no, turn around and go back to your closet to choose something chic and cool.
10) Complete your look with the heatwave musts.
In hot weather or not, accessories always complete the outfit. When the mercury climbs, don’t leave home without these two essentials: a water bottle and a handheld fan. Matching your outfit, they are the accessories of choice to complement your chic and cool look.
Whether it’s + 35, or -35 degrees Celsius, what you wear influences the perception of competence, that your client and even your colleagues, may have of you. Consider that the vast majority of work environments have air conditioning. Dress in layers to transition from home to work to after work.
Stay chic and cool!
Do you have a sticky situation question or do you need a training activity to help your team shine at work? Visit Julie’s website. Invite her to empower your team, buy one of her books, or schedule a Private Consultation.