Summer is hard, at least from a What To Wear To Work perspective. It’s hot outside, insanely freezing cold inside (WHY so much air-conditioning, WHY), and…I hate most cardigans. You see my problem. So I asked the team to pull together a go-to office outfit for summer, one that can be easily re-created.

Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.

4 Foolproof Work Outfit Ideas For Spring & Summer

Office Outfit Idea 1: Navy Wrap Dress + Soft Denim Jacket

Granted, one could wear a cardigan with this outfit (I’ve worn this cardi with this exact dress)…but I really like the vibe of a soft denim jacket. It’s cool, and just professional enough for most offices.

Keep the rest of the look office-worthy with a classic watch and pumps. Done.

This dress, BTW, was a total find. I’ve long relied on navy wrap dresses to get me through summers at an office, but my old one didn’t survive the last ten years of raising kids. So I was looking for a replacement and whoa — this one is literally $39 on Amazon, is insanely flattering, looks much more expensive than it is, has glowing reviews to boot, and now a permanent place in my closet. I mean….no brainer.

Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.

Lark & Ro dress (wearing size XS ) | jacket (size small) | watch (old, eBay only) | pumps (old, eBay only)

Shop More Wrap Dresses

Office Outfit Idea 2: A Silky, Long-Sleeve Dress + Tough Accessories

We’re big fans of one-and-done dressing, especially for work, and I love how Lex just went with a bold dress. It’s flowy enough to be comfortable in the summer heat, but, thanks to the long-sleeves, you won’t totally freeze in the air-conditioning. Add tough-girl accessories and nude shoes. So cool.

Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.

dress (basically sold out, but see other options below) | shoes | bag (similar)

Shop More Silky Midi Dresses

Shop More Nude Heels

Shop Black Studded Handbags

Office Outfit Idea 3:  Go Monochromatic

We’re all obsessed with Gwen’s deceptively simple sweater-and-pants outfit. Instead of boring, monochromatic is exciting and fresh, and now we all just want to order this exact outfit. (If you are not a beige girl, Gwen has rounded up a few other monochromatic choices that are just as beautiful….)

Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.

top (XS) c/o | pants (0) | shoes | earrings (similar) | bag

Shop More Monochromatic Looks For Work

 

 

 

Office Outfit Idea 4: Pretty Printed Dresses + Animal Print Shoes + Tortoise Shell Earrings

Leave it to Linzi to figure out the most playful, foolproof pattern mix EVER. This look is professional, and yet totally Linz. Love.  The reason this outfit looks so effortless is because Linzi is treating both animal print AND tortoiseshell like neutrals. They ARE neutrals…just really exciting ones.

Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.Dressing for the office is HARD in summer. Hot outside, FREEZING inside. We've got 4 foolproof work outfit ideas for exactly this. See what we're wearing.

dress | shoes | earrings | bag

Shop More Pattern-Mixing Looks For Work

Shop Print Dresses

Shop Leopard Print Shoes

Shop Tortoise Shell Earrings

 

And in case you missed out early spring work outfit ideas, they’re right here. Don’t freeze in that AC, you guys.  

xo,

Team TME

18 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome post (reading on the bus on my way downtown!) Thanks for the office inspo for us working mamas! Great affordable options too. Will reread on my laptop late tonight. ?

  2. Hmmm… not a big fan of these with the exception of the monochromatic outfit. A destructed jean jacket is not office wear and the dresses lack creativity. I would love a post about putting separates together in unique ways for the office. Normally love your posts, but wanted to give some honest feedback about this one…

  3. I agree with Jen. It would be useful to know in what offices these women work. The black bag/blue polkadot dress/leopard print combo is weird for any outfit. And the madly patterned dress looks like it might possibly work on a taller woman, but probably not. I like the monochrome outfit, but worry that that model will be sweating mightily in the pullover between the heat of the summer outdoors and the frigid temperature of her office unless she goes from her air-conditioned house to her air-conditioned garage to her air-conditioned car to her air-conditioned parking spot at work.

    Not sure what all is going on here, Shana. When was the last time you worked in an office? This post is really off, for me at least.

    • Umm..seriously? I work in an office NOW. As do we all. And we all come from professional backgrounds – I worked at Lockheed for 15 years, Lex has been a teacher as well as working various office jobs, Gwen was PR, etc etc etc. Each of these outfits – denim jacket included – is something that I would have worn to work at Lockheed. (And in my case, I basically re-created an outfit that was one of my personal go-tos.) Let’s all just keep in mind that everyone’s office situation is different, and that these ideas can easily be made more/less formal. In fact, I linked to a cardigan I do wear with the dress if the frayed denim jacket isn’t your thing. Or swap out a frayed denim jacket for a regular one. Or add a blazer. In terms of a “lack of creativity” …most days – as I’m rushing to get out the door – the last thing I want is a creative outfit. What I want, however, is a $39 dress that looks like a $300 dress. That said…if you have a go-to office outfit you love, send in pics! As far as I’m concerned, the more inspiration, the better.

  4. I LOVE the monochrome look and idea! I would love some additional looks beyond dresses – skirts, blazers, and ideas to dress up the basic black pair of pants most people (me) wear to the office every day. I think you guys do casual and fun very well in other posts, so for the work-focused posts I would love to see a bit more of a formal/professional look. A ripped jean jacket would not fly in my office… unfortunately! But you all look great as always and I will definitely be buying the $39 dress! Nice find.

  5. I like Linzi’s dress (and seeing that J Crew is having a sale, it’s in the mail!) – I think it would look great with a white blazer or coral cardigan, and maybe some red or orange shoes. The black bag doesn’t really work for summer or with the dress.

    Have to agree that the frayed jeans jacket wouldn’t work for office wear even in casual SF. The wrap dress looks great though.

    How about some tips on wearing midi dresses? It seems like they overwhelm everyone but the tallest and most willowy.

    Constructive criticism aside, I really appreciate that you
    1) listened to feedback about your readers needing office clothing inspiration
    2) listened to feedback about offering a range of price points ($39 dress – yay!)
    3) listened to feedback about inspiration for re-using/ re-wearing closet staples. It’s great to see that you’re still getting good mileage out of those Vince pumps, for example – cost per wear could make a splurge like that really worthwhile.

  6. I am in my early 40s with little kids, and work in a casual law office setting (as an attorney). I swear by cardigans to deal with the 20-degree temperature swing in the summer. My general formula for a normal day (though there are some suit days and some jeans days, “normal” day is business casual):

    Option 1: ankle length straight pant with sleeved blouse and ballet flats
    Option 2: narrow pant (ankle or full) with fitted blouse and normal or duster cardigan and block pumps
    Option 3: sheath dress and block heel pump or sandal
    Option 4: wide-leg pants with half-tuck blouse and comfortable shoes
    Option 5: pencil skirt, fitted blouse, cardigan, ballet flats or block heels

    When in doubt, mix black clothing with cognac leather accessories. Or gray and white with cognac. Cognac warms everything up.

    I love Everlane’s Day Flat. They break in quickly, the higher vamp feels fresh, and they are comfortable all day. Ditto their block heel. Rothy’s in a print are a great way to add print/interest.

    Target is great for sleeveless blouses to layer in the warmer months.

    The snap-front cardigan advertised regularly through Zulily is great and versatile and the line of brass snaps is interesting and adds interest.

    I wouldn’t support the company and buy items now, but if you already have the Nicole dress or Cassie skirt by Lularoe, they are appropriate and versatile for the office in a subtle print or solid. The items I bought in 2015/2016 are still in rotation.

    And Shana, I wore a denim jacked (purchased in 2003!) to work on Monday. 🙂

  7. I like this post a lot! It’s great to see some more office-appropriate style in TME (thought I love the casual looks, too.) I had a hard time NOT purchasing Lex’s dress (it was left in only my size!) but I didn’t because at my very casual office, it would probably be too much.

    I love the monochromatic pants+sweater look–definitely going to copy that!

  8. I also hate cardigans. Luckily my office is extremely casual. I avoid ripped denim but other than that pretty much anything goes as long as it’s not hotpants and crop tops.

    Back in the day I worked for the Y, where I had to dress business casual but also was in and out of the hot sticky pool area. My go-tos:

    cropped dress pants (I had some from J.Crew that I absolutely loved (the Minnie, I think?); would update to their Martie or Cameron styles today

    short-sleeved blouses/”upgrade t-shirts” from Banana Republic. I prefer a knit fabric to woven, personally (unless it’s silk, I sweat; if it IS silk, I sweat then have to dry clean. Hard pass).

    ballet flats: to be honest I actually hate them today, but you cannot beat their practicality and comfort.

    the Office Sweater: I think back in the day it was a large cardigan, but could just as easily be a boxier semi-cropped fella that hits right at the waistline of your pants. Mine lived at the office so I could grab it as necessary.

    Flash forward to today: I’m in a v-neck t-shirt dress from Amazon with my trusty jean jacket next to me if I get chilly. With white Birkenstocks. So I guess you could say I’ve been fully TME’d. ;D

  9. I really appreciate the office-wear posts! I’m definitely taking inspiration from these looks, and I’m actually doing the monochrome look today (in navy, with leopard flats). Similarly, I’ll sometimes do a tonal outfit, like navy pants + cobalt blouse, or maroon pants + purple sweater. It’s a little unexpected but works for an office environment.

    I generally stick with 1 or 2 silhouettes, either slim pants/blouse/cardigan or wide-leg trousers/slim blouse/loafers, and add interest with different color combinations or patterns. Sticking with one basic color palette (black/white and jewel tones) means pretty much everything goes together, so I can quickly pull an outfit together in the morning.

  10. Shana, can you provide the name of the jean jacket? The link just gets me to Intermix’s main page. It’s perfect for my casual, hip office environment. Thanks!

    • Hey Claire, S is wearing the L’AGENCE
      Janelle Mojave Denim Jacket – not sure why that link is not going straight to the jacket, sorry!

  11. Yes, seriously. Again, it would be useful to know where each of these people currently works, what sort of workplace it is (corporate, non-profit, education, government, big office, small office, managerial, pink collar). Not all offices are alike, and my law firm, for one, would not be OK with what Lockheed apparently deems acceptable.

    • Hi…just to follow on Shana’s comment, your work environment is going to determine what style works best for you, and while it would be ideal, we can’t cover them all in one post.

      I worked as a photojournalist, a high school teacher and an editor, and all had similar levels of formality, but where I lived and worked totally influenced whether I was a little more or a little less formal — for instance, when I worked at the newspaper, I always had to wear pants b/c as a photog, I was always either climbing something or lying on the floor. Not something I’d want to do in a dry clean only suit. A journalist might not wear a distressed jean jacket out in the field, but once they got back to the office — newspaper or public radio or whatever — the jean jacket could be back on. I wore my most formal teaching attire mostly during the first two weeks of school b/c I was young and smaller than many of the children, and had to establish their respect in the early days. I dressed more formally when I taught in Dubai b/c it was a flashier place AND it was always cold inside. A silky midi dress would totally be on par when I taught in Dubai or in Durham, NC, but not likely when I taught in Saigon because it was slightly less formal (hotter, tropics, riding bikes/motorbikes). As an editor in tech — in Chelsea — I was often overdressed in a cute knee-length dress with boots, but if I’d had a denim jacket, I would’ve fit right in. Philadelphia is decidedly more casual than a lot of other cities (at least from what I see here downtown), but even when I went down to Wall Street a few months ago, I felt overdressed in a pencil/midi-skirt, booties and a blazer (they’ve recently gone business casual).

      I probably would’ve worn a blazer with Linzi’s outfit b/c I’m always cold, but Linzi’s usually hot, so she wouldn’t. I wore a cute pants outfit in our last workwear roundup, which seemed appropriate for graphic designers, photogs, journalists, people in non-profits, etc., while the other girls wore more office-professional dresses, and those dresses seemed to resonate more with readers at that time. I personally tend to prefer dresses because I see them as a cost-saving tool. Buying one dress v. all the pieces you need to make an outfit.

      All that to say, we’re doing our best to integrate more workwear into the blog. We hope that what we post will resonate with our readers, but we know that due to variations in workplace and locale, not every outfit will resonate with every reader. The office we work in here in Philly is a co-working office, so it’s less formal than what we’re wearing here, although only the midi dress would’ve seemed extremely out of place.

  12. The thing that struck me about the jean jacket was the part where you said it works for most offices. Some, yes, but not most. Most people still work in traditional business conservative offices. And while yes, you may be able to get away wearing something at work, that doesn’t mean you should. Don’t get me started on what I see teachers wearing a lot of the time.

    As we get older, we usually got promoted to supervisory positions with more responsibility and you don’t want to be dressing the way you did in your 20s when you were in a junior position. I supervise people who I think sometimes wear way too casual clothes for the environment. Do they get away with it? Yes. But does it make me want to take them to meetings or other important events? No.

    Open toe high heels, leopard print wedge espadrilles, and jean jackets are not appropriate for most workplaces and can make you look more juvenile than the position you hold, which can hurt your chances at work of being selected for important cases, projects, meetings, etc.

    I am always glad to see posts about work wear but more tailored, pulled together work wear would be appreciated.

    • To be fair, the way I dressed as a teacher was far more professional than I see today, as well. Jeans and t-shirts were never allowed when or where I taught (and I wouldn’t want to wear them anyway), but even in the one school where we had casual Friday, heels and blazers still topped off any outfit (at least for me). So in regards to that comment, I personally dressed fancier and more conservatively as a teacher — even though not all teachers do — my students often commented on it, and even remarked that he’d known I was pregnant before I told the class, because I started wearing different shoes. I won’t comment on the rest, because although valid and worthy of discussion, a different conversation for a different post. I think the number of people who don’t work in traditional, conservative business offices is likely higher than we imagine — especially if they’re women and moms — as much as we’d like that to be a reality…the data just doesn’t support that. We know all our workwear posts won’t resonate with every reader, but hopefully the variety we present will address the variety of styles appropriate for the variety of jobs our readers hold.

  13. I have to say, with all due respect, I don’t really think of a co-working space as an ‘office’ with the same norms as most offices, so I’m not sure, Team Mom Edit, that your point of reference is comparable to most of your readers’. I’m in management in tech, and our office environment is super casual. But as part of my job, I also work with clients, vendors, and other tech partners, and that changes what I wear dramatically; I dress to the norm of the people with whom I am working, and of the outfits you have pulled together here, only Gwen’s would be something I would ever use as a model (without the sparkly slippers).

    In all of my work environments, I find labels like Cos, Theory, JCrew, and Club Monaco give me enough sleek, hip, professional options to dress for all the kinds of work interactions I have without having to build a huge closet or worry that I can’t switch from one environment to another and look inappropriate. Just my 2¢. I guess I just don’t see that kind of look here.

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