After the graduation party, reality starts to set in. Whether it’s a summer internship or a first “real” job, many grads find themselves scrambling to put together a professional look. It can be daunting, especially with student loans now just six months away and budgets tight. Gone are the days when student financial aid covered the costs, and grads are getting ready to do it solo.
The key to building a summer business casual wardrobe is being innovative, knowing fabrics and understanding where the deals are. It’s best to go with classic styles because trends can be considered “out” overnight. Light fabrics, durable design and quality are the foundation for a great professional wardrobe during the warmer months. Here’s how to get started.
Even in the warm months, trousers are a safe bet. Choose a pair with a proper lining, a classic color, and a loose fit for those hours of sitting in meetings. A looser fit is also cooler, especially if the fabric is lightweight. Building a wardrobe with a solid inclusion of trousers is a must, and these pieces can transition from summer to autumn easily.
Depending on the environment, it’s safest to go with a blouse with some kind of sleeve. Again, a loose fit is best with a gauzy material. The good news about blouses is that they can transition from the office to happy hour with something as simple as an accessory and shoe change. Pick a material that’s wrinkle-resistant and neutral in color.
Skirts are a woman’s answer to a stifling summer, and this is where some creativity can be shown. The only rules are to avoid anything too tight (A-lines are best) and to ensure the skirt hits the knee or lower while standing. Anything shorter is inappropriate and likely to hitch up when sitting at a meeting with the boss.
For those who have a current massive tank top or cami wardrobe all set to go, make use of those items with a great-fitting jacket. Most offices are air conditioned, and newbies might be a bit chilly anyway. Layering is always a good idea, and this is another easy way to transition from day to night. Simply slip off the jacket to go to dinner after hours.
Choosing shorts for the office is tricky, but it can be pulled off with the right fabric, length and accompanying wardrobe. Only Bermuda-length shorts are acceptable, and only when paired with modest heels and a conservative blouse or jacket. Check out what other people are wearing to the office before trying this, and bring a backup pair of trousers just in case.
When it comes to dressing professionally in the heat, there’s an art to it. Always err on the side of caution and save the skin-bearing for the weekend.