"Am I at work, or did we suddenly teleport to South Beach?"
I have that exact conversation every summer as the temperature soars past 80 degrees. It's not an exaggeration, either. Some women don't seem to realize that the office dress code isn't null and void when the weather heats up.
"Women are -- by far -- the biggest summer attire offenders," LinkedIn career expert Nicole Williams tells Yahoo! Shine. "Flip flops, shorts, spaghetti straps, halter tops, tube tops, miniskirts -- all belong at the beach, bar, gym or, the privacy of your home, not at the office."
And yes, wearing that tank top and flip flops to a meeting can affect your chances at that coveted promotion. That's not to say you have to melt in a wool suit while trying to get some work done. The key? Find a happy medium with these expert tips.
Think cool, but go professional
The key to staying cool at the office is to wear lighter, breathable fabrics, like these Ann Taylor Hazy Floral Pants, instead of pulling up your hemlines to your upper thighs.
"Save black for fall and switch to navy and khaki," advises BG Krishnan, CEO of eShakti. "Invest in a full cotton skirt, solid or patterned. It looks season appropriate and works with many casual tops and open footwear."
Also, consider wearing stuff that you can dress up or down, depending on the work occasion. "For a business formal look, wear a tank top under your jacket; nobody sees what kind of sleeves you're wearing underneath, but a tank top will strip one layer," adds Nancy LeWinter, editorial director of OneStopPlus. "Perhaps opt for a lighter linen jacket."
Dresses are always a solid go-to, especially a fabulous (and forgiving-for-all-sizes) wrap dress.
Forego the shapewear, but keep the bra straps in check
Good news: You can put the Spanx away for the rest of the summer. Instead, go with fabrics that have a bit of stretch, or "go for a dress with tummy control already in it," LeWinter adds.
But, don't assume that you can show off your bra straps -- or worse, go without a bra.
Make sure your bra straps are safely tucked away under your dress or thin tank," Williams says. "This is a major distraction and makes you come off as messy and scattered."
When in doubt, cover up with a cardigan, like this J. Crew Collection Argyle Gauze Cardigan. "You won't risk appearing too uncovered and you'll keep the cool stares from your coworkers at bay," Williams says.
"Shirt dresses work well for summer work wear," adds Krishnan. "The shirt collar looks more serious than a sundress and works well under a light cardigan in air conditioned offices."
Don't forget about the shoes
Flip flops and a light summer dress can complete a look for a day outing, but not for a day at the office.
"One way to be cool and comfortable are with open-toe shoes, like the Lois high heel by Tori Burch," Williams says. "And if your toes do peep through, get a pedicure."
You can wear a sandal but make sure it's peep toe or covers the majority of your foot, advises Williams.
And if you're still feeling bored by your summer wardrobe?
"Bold, chunky jewelry dresses up more casual attire and gives you a polished look," Krishnan says.
When in doubt, check it out
It might not be the most ideal situation, but err on the conservative side when it comes to your work gear.
"Dressing for your career is very important no matter what the temperature is outside. You'll be seen as more of a thought leader in a professional suit vs. a halter top," Williams adds. It's definitely possible to lose your job over repeated wardrobe violations, too.
"Of course, every industry has their own office wardrobe, but even if you are working at a causal tech start-up, you should stick with an internal dress code," Williams adds.
If you're still now sure what you should wear, ask human resources. They'll be able to give you a definitive answer.
"Remember that you are dressing for the job, raise, and promotion," Williams says.
Tell us: How do you switch up your professional wardrobe during the warm summer months?
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