Summer workwear advice

In the UK, we can be forgiven for going a bit nuts at the first sign of any sun.  But staying professional and smart while remaining cool can be a tricky dilemma.

You only have to take one look around on the commute into work to spy everything from flip-flops to full suits, illustrating the confusion we all face. So how can we have the best of both worlds?


Check your contract

The most important thing to do when summer begins is to check your contract or handbook and see what the company dress code is. Some companies are far stricter than others on what’s judged to be acceptable. Obviously, if you work in construction or a similar trade job then you may have to wear special clothing for health and safety reasons. The same is also true if you work in a role with a uniform.

Ask for leniency

Once you know what your employer expects of you in terms of clothing, you can speak to your boss if you feel that their demands are impacting your ability to do your job as you’re too hot and uncomfortable. If you usually have to wear a full suit and tie, it’s not unfair to ask that you be allowed to wear a short-sleeved shirt and trousers with no tie during a heatwave. And if you wear a uniform there may be a seasonal version for when the weather heats up.

Most employers are understanding and should show some flexibility on dress codes – if nothing else, they will be experiencing the same conditions as you! If you hit a brick wall then speak to HR to see if there’s something they can do.

Keep it clean

If you’re given the green light to disregard the usual dress code or, even better, your employer doesn’t make you stick to a dress code then it’s really up to you to use your common sense. You want to remain professional and not have people look down on you for dressing too casually.

Also, remember that you’re not at the beach – however much you wish you were – and in some working environments flip-flops, miniskirts, shorts and vests are going to be frowned upon. Don’t push it and you’re far more likely to be given leeway over hotter weather in the future.

Our tips to summer dressing

Still not sure what to wear on a hot day? Check out our tips!

  • Keep it tailored – If you usually wear a suit to work, don't abandon the tailored look entirely. Instead, swap heavier wools for thinner fabrics like linen or 100% cotton that will let your skin breathe.

  • Hedge your bets – British summertime is always a nightmare! Make sure you wear plenty of layers in case the weather turns in the middle of the day. Also, pack some sensible shoes in a bag, walking in wet sandals is never fun.

  • Cover up – Do you usually get into rows in the office over the air con? Maybe you have important meetings sprung on you from time-to-time? Make sure you have a jacket or cardigan in the office at all time for those 'just in case' moments.

  • Always carry a brolly – You know why! The drowned rat look is never a good one and without a coat those thin layers could end up see-through!

  • Stay sleek – Summer fabrics do tend to wrinkle easier than heavier winter clothing so stay on top of the ironing and don't let your standards slip.

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