Ask A St. Louis Expert: Dressing For Work During The Summer Heat

May 27, 2014 7:00 AM

People equate summer to relaxed atmosphere, yet it is important to maintain a professional appearance at all times. After a long, cold winter, people are ready to shed the heavier fabrics and layers of clothing. But wait! Don’t get too bare for summer! Local fashion expert Ellen Nisenson Soule says that professional attire still dominates in the office setting, whether it’s a corporate environment or small business office.
Ellen Nisenson Soule
Town & Style Magazine
St. Louis, MO 63124
(314) 749-4993

For St. Louis professionals looking for expert tips on how to dress for the office during hot summer months, Ellen Nisenson Soule is here to offer some helpful advice. Ellen Nisenson Soule is a Fashion and Public Relations Consultant for Town & Style Magazine, which is a local St. Louis fashion magazine. She contributes a monthly “What to Wear Where” column for readers. She is also the regional director for Fashion Group International, St. Louis Chapter.

Lighten Up On Fabric Choice

Choose lighter-weight fabrics, such as cotton, cotton blend or linen. Be careful, however, of fabrics being too sheer. Definitely wear an underpinning such as a camisole or tank tops. Stay fresh and professional by making sure linen does not get too wrinkled.

Beach All Oceanside Footwear

A good rule of thumb when choosing appropriate office shoes is if you would wear it to the beach, then it’s not an option for the office. Flip flops or casual flat sandals are not a good choice. Opt instead for peep-toe heels or sling backs which are appropriate in the workplace. If your company’s dress code requires hosiery, pick a sheer nude color. Maintain a pedicure, and choose traditional summer colors like pink, red or clear polish.

Brighten Up the Little Black Dress

Dresses are a good option. Look for the equivalent of the Little Black Dress, often abbreviated as “LBD” in the fashion world. Choose solid, lighter colors for summer like white, tan or even a bright color. Sleeveless is acceptable when worn with a cardigan or lightweight sweater, or go with a three-quarter-inch sleeve jacket, preferably a solid or an understated print to maintain a professional image. Your summer LBD is especially a great option for Friday wear, when you can quickly remove the cardigan or jacket for after-hour gatherings with friends.

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When in Doubt, Don’t

It’s best to err on the conservative side, especially if you want to move up the corporate ladder. Remember, your image is perceived year-round. If you have the slightest concern, it is best to find something else to wear. Don’t be too revealing; minimize bare skin. Avoid low-cut tops and short hemlines. Save the shorts for the weekends. A fashion mistake could cost you your next job promotion. Check your company’s dress code policy as there is probably a section on summer attire.

Stay Cool in Bright Colors

Bright and light neutral colors are best for summer and deflect heat, while black absorbs the heat. Think about an array of colorful cold treats in an ice cream store. The same idea works with choosing a color for summer, and it extends far beyond muted pastels. Select one item with color, preferably the top, and wear it with a white or tan bottom. A crisp, white blouse can stand alone in place of a jacket, belts give a business-like look and you can never go wrong with wearing pearls. Pair the blouse with a sturdy tropical lightweight wool pencil or a-line skirt, knee-length of course, or trouser pants and then accessorize with a scarf or necklace.

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Tere Scott is a freelance writer and author of e-books and two educational blogs. She loves to research information to share. She currently resides in St. Louis. Her work can be found at

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