Office Edit: Four Ways To Style A Gray Suit This Summer

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Hey there, working girl.  Need a little office inspo?  If the amount of emails we get asking if we would – please – add some interest to the 9-to-5 rotation is any indiction….than this post is long overdue.

Summer office style is, in my opinion, the trickiest.  Summertime gives us allll the casual feels, which is hard to balance even in a business-casual work environment, and downright scary in a more professional one.  Add in the drastically swinging temps (hot and humid outside, frigid air-condintioning inside), and yeah – you have yourself one heck of a styling challenge.

For this office edit, I wanted to take a summery twist on a basic gray suit.  It’s professional, yet pairs perfectly with summer’s brights, pastels, and prints.

With A Bright Graphic Tee

This is, hands-down, the easiest way to enliven a gray suit for Summer:  pair it with a bright graphic tee.  Professional, yet casual and slightly quirky, depending on the tee.

Outfit Details

tee – J. Crew (sold out)…These three are seriously fun though:

suit – Banana Republic. These pants & this blazer are similar.

shoes – c/o Sole Society ‘Katarina’ Heel

bag – c/o Sole Society ‘Palermo’ Bag

glasses – Warby Parker ‘Beckett’

 

With Sporty Mesh

Mesh can be a bold choice for the office, but if you layer it over a conservative tank, and under a blazer….it just adds a bit of an edge.  Play up this edge with a graphic black/white color scheme in your accessories, too.

 

Outfit Details

mesh top (layered over a basic black tank) – Mine’s Missguided but sold out. Try these:

suit – Banana Republic. These pants & this blazer are similar.

shoes – c/o Sole Society ‘Katarina’ Heel

bag – c/o Sole Society ‘Carlisle’

 

With Blush Pink, Taupe, and Black

Blush, or ‘milennial pink’ and gray is the new power combo.  I love how the pops of black ground the outfit, but throw in one accessory in a softer neutral (like the taupe bag) to bridge the gap between the harsh black and blush pink.  It helps make the overall look cohesive without being matchy-matchy.

Outfit Details

top – Rebecca Taylor (sold out). Here are some more options:

suit – Banana Republic. These pants & this blazer are similar.

shoes – c/o Sole Society ‘Katarina’ Heel

bag – c/o Sole Society ‘Palermo’ Bag

glasses – Warby Parker ‘Beckett’

With Patterned Accessories

Another easy way to make a basic suit interesting is with carefully chosen accessories.  Too many accessories can read fussy in an office environment, but you’ll never go wrong with a printed shoe and bag.  And mixed prints have enough street cred for some solid day-to-night possibilities.

 

Outfit Details

top: c/o Tuxe ‘Doyenne’ Bodysuit available here in white.

suit: Banana Republic. These pants & this blazer are similar.

shoes: c/o Sole Society ‘Katarina’ Heel in Pink Multi

bag – c/o Sole Society ‘Carlisle’

necklaces: c/o Sole Society Plated Crescent Layered Necklace and Sole Society Plated Disc Choker

 

xo,

S

A huge thank you to Sole Society for sponsoring this post! As always, all thoughts, opinions, and product selections are completely my own.  And readers, thank you for your continued support.  It doesn’t go unnoticed, and is so very much appreciated.

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About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

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27 Comments

  1. Yes thank you!! Can I also request a future post on business casual, because in some ways that’s even trickier than throwing on a suit.

  2. Beth Vaccaro on

    Thank you for a post on not just mom weekend wear. I actually have a pretty casual work environment, but still most posts won’t work. Let me also say that most places that require a suit would not be down with either a graphic tee , see through shirt, or spaghetti strap tank top. Some work places are okay with those items, but not ones wear a suit would be worn. So, while I really like the styling on all four pictures, I think taking some of these things into consideration would be helpful for real work wear. Granted, there are other blogs that are more focused on what to wear to work so that might not be your focus.

    • Beth, this is exactly what I wore to work as an engineer for Lockheed Martin. So yeah – there are plenty of office environments where a suit + graphic tee would totally work.

      • I love these outfits, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with Beth on this one. i work in finance on a college campus, and my 55 year old supervisor would definitely not be okay with me wearing graphic tees or mesh. I agree that there are plenty of office environments where this would work, but I’d also say that those environments are the exception to the rule. My office isn’t particularly formal (for example, i seldom wear suits) but trying to be edgy would undermine my credibility. Sad bad true. Unless you’re working in a creative field, most office cultures skew towards the conservative.

        • Yeah, in my working life I have only worked in one office where I could do this. And in that office a suit would have been serious overkill.

        • I recall a previous post from this blog from 2012, “Reader Q: What an Engineer Wears to Work in the Summer,” really got it right for an office environment that is casual but also a bit conservative as opposed to creative. There were several fantastic ideas given for how to look professional and appropriate for this type of office environment, such as mixing professional separates with more casual items, among others. The vibe presented was one of polished ease for a relatively casual workplace in which suits are not the norm.

          Just for context, I am a professor at a large research university in a scientific area where the number of women is quite low, and the workplace is *very* casual. It’s always been a struggle to know how to hit the mark between too casual/student-like and too formal/corporate (in my field, too casual seems to be much more “acceptable” than too formal). In any case, the “What an Engineer Wears to Work in the Summer” post was the first fashion post/article/etc. that I had ever seen that got it exactly right. For the first time, I felt as if I had a target to reach, and guidelines for ways to achieve it, that worked perfectly for my work environment.

          In regards to this particular post, first, let me say that all of them look great. That being said, I resonated a bit with the comments above about the level of edge in these outfits, particularly as they each involve a suit. Even for the office demographic that was considered for the “What an Engineer Wears to Work in the Summer” post, the outfits shown in that post seem to be a slightly bit more conservative than the ones shown here, with the exception of #3 (i.e. no graphic tees, no mesh, no spaghetti straps, etc. — though perhaps the graphic tee option isn’t too much of a stretch since the shirt is toned down by the more formal blazer+jacket combination of the suit).

          I can absolutely understand that for those in even slightly more formal office environments, these outfits (again with the possible exception of #3) might be a bit off the mark. In complete alignment with what ab said above, the administrative and finance people on the campus where I work have a significantly more formal office environment than those of us in the classroom/lab/etc., even though it is not as formal as some office environments. I can see how this might not work well for them, and definitely not for more formal office environments where suits are the required dress code, as Beth mentioned above. I also think that in many (though undoubtedly not all) office environments, including casual ones, the point ab made above that trying to be edgy runs the risk of undermining one’s own credibility, is unfortunately all too true, and for better or worse, it is something that must be kept in mind.

          The upshot of this long ramble is that there are many subtleties involved in work-appropriate dressing, depending on the office environment. The “how to style a gray suit in the summer” issue clearly has many different possible guidelines depending on the formality of the office. If these outfits work within the context of your own specific situation, then great (because they are beautiful!). However, they may not, of course. Whether or not they work, there are certainly a number of ideas given here that can translate well (such as color palettes, interesting accessories, etc.) to other, more formal, workplace environments.

          I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, Shana, for showing us many creative and modern options for our wardrobes, and just generally for including these types of office workwear posts in The Mom Edit. I for one find such posts, as well as the surrounding dialogue and discussion in the comments, tremendously helpful and constructive.

      • Hey! I’m an engineer for Lockheed Martin too! Damn I wish I worked with you. It would be fun if my fellow engineers dressed this way, but at my location everyone leans pretty formal and conservative.

        I LOVE the graphic tee under the suit look. It’s fun without being innapropriate. I’m fairly certain official Lockheed dress code is no graphic tees unless it’s for an event though. I’m not certain I would get in official trouble for it, but it would feel awkward looking out of place. Even our casual Fridays are rather dressy affairs (most folks wear jeans but they are dark jeans with button downs and formal footwear, never tennis shoes).

        There’s also the tricky line for women in male-dominated fields where you just want to be known and respected for your technical abilities and not for how you look or dress.

        Anyway, blah blah blah. I’ll take your post for inspiration!

    • I loved this post. I thought the point of the post was trying to mix traditional conservative (the suit, which is a pretty standard looking suit) with something more interesting and edgy.

      I think the second two outfits would work in most offices, as long as the blazer is left on (I agree a spaghetti strap shirt is not appropriate for any professional office, when worn on its own – but would be perfect for after-work dinner or drinks!).

      Please continue the work wear posts! We full-time working outside the home mamas appreciate them!

  3. I work in marketing at a tech company in Silicon Valley. Casual but pulled together is the name of the game for me. Note that one of the things I love about my company is that no one cares much what you wear (but I care a bit!) as long as you’re working hard and doing your job. I would love a post about work style that is a little dressier than jeans (I wear them to work whenever I want, but I like pants and other options, too) and tops for the exact A/C / Hot environment.
    That being said, one of my fave looks (thanks to The Mom Edit), is a knit blazer, graphic tee, jeans, and flats. You guys have helped me find that look. Now I just need more of the above 🙂

  4. That is very beautifull) I think that these man s costume are very bright on woman. One my student write close essay. Of course he uses https://instanovelist.com/, but even that could not help him to write better that you.
    You are really talented)

  5. I work in higher education and the only one of these I could get away with is the third outfit. Which is kind of funny, because I have a ‘creative’ type position, but mesh and low cut blouses would totally not fly and also frankly undermine my authority. I think there is certainly a way to have fun with your outfits while still looking professional. For me, it’s a lot of mixing more fun patterns with classic silhouettes and feminine blazers.

  6. Hi! These look great, and I could easily see wearing them to a school or volunteer committee meeting, or a lunch date near my husband’s office (as I currently work from home I don’t need fancy office wear). However, in my past, graphic tees/mesh/spaghetti straps were absolutely verboten at work. I’ve been in a number of environments–hospitals, clinics, insurance providers/HMO offices, call centers & offices that write online content (which were pretty casual–but not this casual!), and every single one of them had a dress code that specifically forbid anything see-thru, spaghetti-straps or tank tops, and “anything with writing” unless it was the company logo or a special sports-themed day (and in those cases, a golf shirt or sweater was the expectation, not a t-shirt). It’d be great to refresh the color/pattern and accessories for summer but I’d have needed a different top under the jacket or lightweight blouse/no jacket. I’d love to get your take on current business casual attire too, keeping in mind the dress code constraints. thanks!.

  7. Love this post! I am a teacher/grad student and always looking for new ideas for work wear. Although the mesh and tiny straps wouldn’t work for me, it is inspiring. Thanks. And, I also really liked when Scotti did a piece on teacher wear (hint, hint…).

  8. I appreciate the effort to have a work focused post. Agree with posters above that I couldn’t wear any of these outfits except maybe 3 with different shoes. But that isn’t really the point of this post! It’s to get us thinking and putting new things together! Honestly none of my work outfits should ever be on this blog (business formal office) because they are boring and conservative. But I read this and think, oh I could add a patterned purse or some element that adds a modern interest. So thank you Shana!

    If you want straight work clothes, read corporette (which I love) and then read this blog to liven things up!

    Ps let me know if you want me to do a dressing room selfies based on work clothes at Ann Taylor or something similar!

  9. Thanks for a great post. I could definitely wear the second two outfits to work. The first two are great for the inspiration. I’ll sub out the graphic tee for a big pattern. Keep up the great work.

  10. Chiming in with a plus-one on the themes that came up from what many said above. Business casual is HARD, and even working in a creative institute at an edgy music college, I’m small and a woman and I want ppl to know that I’m in leadership, not a student. I could tweak some of these (and I have a mesh vest from a million years ago that I’m wondering if I can perhaps incorporate – yay shop your closet!) but I echo that walking the line of business casual/jeans are ok/but take me seriously/also I’m stylish and cool is a HARD LINE to balance on!

    But at the same time, how many cropped blah Ann Taylor pants can one person wear before their soul starts to die a little. There must be something better out there?!

    Sometimes I think I nail it. Sometimes I just put clothes on my body and try to get the kids to school on time and not be too late to work.

    I’m definitely in need of a few summer refreshes and would totally be up for a reader style challenge!

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