Summer is officially here, no doubt about it, with 90 degree temperatures in the Northeast. And let’s face it, wearing business attire in the warm months can be not only stifling, it can be confusing to know your fashion do’s and don’ts.
So I recently called Bonobos, the hipster-professional Internet clothing company which is kinda like Zappos for pants, and sought some advice for warm weather duds. Mr. Brad Andrews, their VP of Merchandising, offered very helpful advice:
1) Go for Lighter Versions of Traditional Office Wear
It may seem obvious to go for lighter cotton fabrics in hot months, but did you know lightweight wool is a viable option? Some people are scared off from wool because they imagine chokingly-hot reindeer sweaters from December,
but a light brown or grey tropical wool pant is summer-kosher. It’s fairly wrinkle resistant, and as long as you’re not wearing a heavy black or charcoal, you’re looking good.
Likewise, button-down oxfords don’t come in just one weight: they come in lighter fabrics as well. For instance, Bonobos offers an “All-Rounder” version which will cause you less shvitzing than your starched, wrinkle-free oxfords from Brooks Brothers or Jos. A. Banks.
Bright colors are a great summer look for shirts. Bonobos also has a number of hot pants options, but personally, I don’t know how I’d feel if my defense attorney showed up at a hearing wearing their Pollenators.
2) Try Cotton Ties and/or Suits
Cotton suits don’t just come in khaki. You can go with more traditional colors like olive, navy, grey with that lighter, more summery cottony feel. And a surprising option: seersucker in navy offers a relaxed suit without the traditional look you’re might associate with this old-school fabric. The darker color eliminates the traditional Gatsby look you might think of – though you might want to leave the bow-tie and boater at home.
Cotton ties, in ginghams and bright colorful patterns, are another easy way to lighten up an attorney’s wardrobe in high temperatures.
4) Don’t Fear The Wrinkle
Anyone who’s invested in lightweight linen garments and then finds themselves with more wrinkles than a shar pei may have sworn off linen forever. Bonobos, recognizing this aversion, combines linen with cotton in their Chino Lino line, offering a lightweight summer fabric with less wrinkling than traditional linen.
That said, summer is a relaxed, more chill time, and a wrinkle or two on your garments reflects that. It’s not unfashionable to sport pants that aren’t 100% crisp and clean. You probably won’t want to wear any linen that you’ve balled up in your gym bag over the weekend, but what comes with a day’s wear is acceptable.
5) Look Summery
Dressing for summer work is a bit about loosening up and cooling down visually without really loosening up professionally. You don’t want to look stiff and stifling. When judges and clients look at you, they should be comfortable, not suffering at the thought of how itchy and sweaty you are under your heavy stiff duds.
So think lighter colors, and more of them. Don’t be afraid of a wrinke or two. And if the above advice seems cost prohibitive, think about your jewelry: even a classy nylon watch can summer-up your outfit.
What are some of your summer clothes favorites for the office?