How to Dress for an Interview or Work in Summer

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It’s that time of year. The sunny, sweltering few months where we take to the pool and crank up our ACs. But even though it’s hotter than the hinges of Hades out there, we still have to make our way to our offices. The summer heat can make dressing appropriately a bit tricky, especially if you’re a recent grad or an intern making the transition from campus to office. Of course, no one is immune to summer brain-fry, so even the most experienced professional could benefit from a little reminder. So here’s some tips on how to dress for an interview and work in the summer.

  • This should be obvious, but stay away from spaghetti straps and overly low-cut tops. (Especially if you’re a guy.) It’s OK to wear sleeveless things—think shift dresses and the like—but make sure they’re not overly revealing. Cardigans and light blazers are your friend, because they help keep you from getting chilly in air-conditioned offices.
  • Guys, wear shorts with caution. If your office is very casual, it can work, but get a sense of what people more senior are doing before you try it. If you’re an intern or a very new hire, you’re better off playing it safe. Ladies, avoid shorts entirely unless they’re knee-length city shorts, and even then, be careful. Capris can go either way. If you choose to wear them, make sure they’re tailored and sharp.
  • There are a lot of workplaces that have an irrational and misguided dislike of flip-flops, so sadly, you should err on the side of caution and wear nice sandals or, you know, actual shoes until you get a sense of what’s acceptable in your office.
  • Skirts and dresses are great in the summer, but make sure that they’re not too short. If you’d stick to a plastic chair in what you’re wearing, find something else to wear.
  • Beware light fabrics overall. They’re great and summery, but they can also be too sheer or (horrors!) reveal sweat stains. Just put a shirt or cami on underneath and you’ll be fine.

Every office has a different culture, so these aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules. However, remember that when you’re low on the totem pole, you don’t have as much room to go super-casual as your more experienced coworkers. You want people to notice you for your work, not your wardrobe. There’s a lot of wisdom for that old bit of advice: dress for the job you want, not the one you have.