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How to dress office-appropriately in a heatwave

Heed these guidelines to avoid any awkward office moments

Surviving the heat in style is not our national forte. For obvious reason, dressing appropriately for hot weather isn’t something we’re well versed in. And while you’re more than ready to pull your Ibiza shorts out of retirement at home, wearing them to work may not be so well received.

Though the British summer heatwave is forecasted to only last a few days, we advise you invest in some key pieces to beat the heat with aplomb. The alternative is T-Rexing around the office to cover sweat patches, literally peeling your tights off in the bathroom by lunchtime, or forever being reminded by your colleagues about that time you wore a ‘Kate Moss at Coachella outfit’ to a client meeting.

Scroll on for our 7 golden rules for cool office dressing when it heats up…

Started from the bottom

Heat escapes through our heads and our feet, so dress from the feet up when it heats up. Opt for airy canvas espadrilles if you haven’t had a pedi and don’t fancy getting your toes out. Just be sure to wear silk-cotton, invisible “ballerina socks” underneath – they’re an essential insurance policy for any summer shoe.

As for any summer sandals you bought in May and have been itching to break out, bear in mind that shoes that are snug in the morning are likely to feel murderous by mid-day. Plus, as your feet heat-up, any sweat will cause friction and inevitably lead to painful blisters. So, invest in a wooden shoe tree and some leather softening-spray. Treat your new shoes to both of these and break them in around the house for a day or two before wearing them for a full day’s work. Then, spritz Savlon antiseptic spray plaster all over your feet and rub Vaseline on the backs of your shoes and on any toe straps. This all sounds like a lot of effort but it’s worth it to avoid the agony and the unsightly blisters.

Luckily, backless mules and slippers are still very much on trend, and have the same amount of ease, comfort and practicality as a flip-flop without looking like you’ve dressed for the beach.

Don’t skrimp on t-shirts

Loose cotton, or cotton-linen mix, t-shirts are a summer savior. Investing in high quality tees from luxe-casual brands like James Perse, T by Alexander Wang or Vince will serve you well in the summer months (and beyond); the high-quality material makes them appear dressier. Wear them with a full skirt or slouchy tailored trousers, heels and ‘shoulder-robe’ a soft-tailored blazer and you’re nailing summer dressing.

Material girl

Fine cottons, jersey and even linens are your friends once the thermometer tips past 20. Avoid anything synthetic or clingy – the less fabric physically touching your skin, the cooler you’ll feel. This goes for skinny jeans too – go for lightweight denim culottes or wide-leg cropped flares.

The foundations

For those who work in a corporate, or quite formal office, shirtdresses are a godsend. Loose, tunic-like dresses or shifts are great for everyone. Those in quite causal offices, now’s the time to milk the off-the-shoulder trend to your advantage. As with deninm, culottes and wide-leg silhouettes are best for trousers. We recommend & Other Stories, Joseph, and Whistles.

Sweat, baby

Avoid wearing colours that sweat patches are more obvious on – such as marle grey or pastels. Prints are a fantastic ally at concealing sweat patches so embrace geometrics and florals. Layering is also a celver cover-up – try a longline black waitscoat over white shirts that have the potential to show you up.

Underneath it all

M&S are renowned for their no-VPL knickers so pick up a couple of packs of these in a range of colours. A multiway bra or bralette and a clip in strap converter to alter straight straps into a racerback style are also essential. Sports bras are great for absorbing excess moisture, so all-hail athleisure. If your office is quite casual, style it out by wearing a colourful sports bra under a semi-sheer linen or white chambray shirt.

Cut-outs, backless styles and underwear as outerwear have obvious desireable qualities, just to be sure to buy high quality fabrics, loose shapes and layer appropriately to keep it classy.

All about the details

Your handbag is key if your clothing is slouchier or more casual than usual. So, a structured bag or sleek pumps will keep your work look in check. Leave your tote at home and downsize to a small cross-body style.

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