Trends That Work For The Workplace: A Young Professional’s Guide To Summer Attire


Now that the warm weather is FINALLY upon us, it is time to enjoy the perks of summer.

With glowing tans and sun-kissed skin comes a change in wardrobe; like most people, this is my favourite part about summer – trading in those annoying bulky sweaters, dark colours, and stockings that constantly rip, for bright colours, thinner layers, and a playful wardrobe.

However, your work place – whether you hate it or love it – is the place where you’ll be spending at least eight hours a day throughout the season. In most environments, trendy summer must-haves are deemed as being inappropriate for a corporate environment, raising the question, “can I wear this to work?”

We often spend hours trying to decipher what would be appropriate as well as comfortable and stylish for us to wear during the day, which sometimes results in us choosing an outfit we don’t feel our absolute best in.

If this sounds similar to your work-life situation, these following tips are sure to help you look fashionable and professional while staying cool during the hot summer months.

Bringing current trends to the office

To start, let’s take a look at some at this season’s hottest trends that will surely make heads turn at the office.

All white everything: Summer is really the only time to pull of wearing white, and this year it is one of the hottest trends. This year’s spring/summer runways were filled with a variety of gorgeous white tones. Vogue Magazine cited “the white tuxedo look” as one of their hottest looks this summer. Weather it’s pants suits, jackets, blazers, or a dress, this 70’s inspired style with a modern twist is a must have.

Floral Prints: Bold floral prints, gives your boring business attire a vintage pop of eye candy. Floral patterned ties/bow ties, polo shirts, dresses, shoes or handbags can be used as a statement or signature piece. What’s perfect about floral prints is that they are also appropriate to wear in formal business environments.

Bomber Jackets: This cool classic look, made for both men and women, comes in all styles, colours and patterns and can appropriately substitute for a blazer, making you not only look professional but trendy as well. You may not want to wear this during the day, but if you’re attending an evening work event, this can really transition a look from hotter to milder temperatures.

The basics

Aside from this season’s hottest trends, comes your classic must haves that never go out of style. No matter what year it is, they have a way of resurfacing each summer.

Statement piece: A bright statement necklace, colourful dangly earrings or a bold hat will add a pop of colour and style to spice up a boring blazer.

The plain white tee: This can go well with a blazer, black dress pants, or coloured pants/skirt.

Pop of colour: Colour emphasizes the feel of summer. By adding a coloured blazer or tie, patterned scarf, flowered headband, or bright shoes to your everyday outfit, you can drastically enhance your look.

The neutral blazer: This is one staple everyone needs to have. Get a classic blazer in black or grey (or both!) and you’ll always have a go-to workplace piece. For summer, make sure you have one in a lighter fabric so you’re not sweating it out during the day. Plus, blazers are great because they can be worn as both formal and semi casual – try pairing yours with a pair of jeans and a nice top!

Workplace style blunders

As much as I love summer outfits, there are some things to keep in mind before stepping into your office.

Flip-flops or sandals: Extremely unprofessional, tacky and sloppy. Flip-flops should never be worn to work (even on casual Fridays). What’s worse is when sandals are worn with socks. Keep these for the beach!

Bottoms: It’s summer, so of course everyone wants to wear shorts. However, the majority of companies may find wearing bottoms that rise too far above the knee distasteful – although there are some companies with a casual dress code that may allow it shorts and skirts. If you decide to do so, make sure the hem of your bottoms are not shorter than your fingertips when your arms are at your sides.

In general, it’s safest to stick to capris, long pants, or modest dresses/skirts. You never know when you’ll have to meet a client, or attend a last-minute meeting with executives.

Tops: When choosing a shirt, always keep the three finger rule in mind. Hold your first three fingers together (pointer, middle and ring), and place it on top your shoulder. If your shirt has a strap that is thinner than the width of your three fingers, it is too revealing for work. As much as you want to show off your muscle gains, you should probably throw on a blazer or cardigan over it. No spaghetti straps or muscle shirts!

Show off some skin: Keeping in mind the general guidelines for not baring it all, (i.e. no visible midriffs, shoulders, backs, or thighs). However, you can still show off your summer tan – roll up those sleeves or throw on a flowy dress!

Smile: The most beautiful thing a person can wear is a smile. An important thing to remember is that you should always feel comfortable and confident in the clothes you are in, regardless of your personal style or what new trend is in. Always opt to wear something that will bring out your natural smile. This confidence will radiate in your work and attitude!

The bottom line is that it is always important to look professional and appropriate at work, regardless of the work environment. How embarrassing would it be to have to be sent home because of poor choice in clothing? Also keep in mind that a surprise business meeting or important introduction can spring up any day unexpectedly. If you are not dressed appropriately, you may hinder the impression you want to make by looking like a slob.

What is your favourite summer outfit for the workplace? Tell us in the comments!