5 Inspired Summer Looks For Freezing, Air-Conditioned Offices

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While walking into an air-conditioned building in the summer can elicit an “ahhhh” moment…I’ve found that it’s often short-lived. Within a few minutes, I’m freezing and not dressed appropriately for the arctic temperatures inside.

M.M.LaFleur attempted to solve this problem years ago with a “desk cardigan” (something professional but cozy that you keep at your desk), but — alas — it’s long gone. That said, Banana Republic has one that’s slightly similar, and Jenni Kayne has a pretty epic sweater-jacket that would probably work with most outfits.

And while I’m not opposed to the idea of desk cardigans in real life, I find that most cardigans, when thrown on top of outfits, end up looking more Sad Cardigan than A Stylish & Professional Layer That Was Intentionally Added To This Outfit!

So, I wanted to come up with a few summer outfit ideas for the office that felt intentional — like one was actually dressing for the freezing air conditioning — yet would still work OK outside too.

5 Summer Work Outfits To Wear In A Freezing Office (Without A Cardigan)

For these outfits, well-chosen layers are key. And since we can always fall back to our default desk cardigan, I wanted to create some office outfits that felt a little fresher, more current. Summer office outfits that let you survive the air conditioning without a cardigan.

Wear: Light Layers (Linen, Silk) In Black

All-black outfits are one of my most-worn office looks year-round. The key is to look for black pieces in summer textures: 100% linen, cotton or silk. The fabrics may be unexpected for the office, but the color grounds them. Pair with no-nonsense pumps.

Here are 5 outfits to wear to a freezing office that still work in the summer heat (& don't involve a cardigan). Think: light layers (silk, linen), a cool shrug & more.

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NOTES: I machine-wash all of my 100% silk, linen & cotton. Put the linen into the dryer (on low) if you want it to get really soft; hang the silk to dry. Machine-washing silk will remove the sheen, however. The result will be a lovely matte look (which I prefer for the office, anyway). I’ve also heard good things about a silk-spandex mix too, so anything from Quince’s washable silk line would totally work.


Find: A Matching Sweater + Skirt Set

A matching sweater & skirt can be a great option for the office. Layer a tank underneath for extra warmth inside (and so you can lose the sweater when walking outside). Dress this up with serious shoes, lipstick & a messy bun.

Here are 5 outfits to wear to a freezing office that still work in the summer heat (& don't involve a cardigan). Think: light layers (silk, linen), a cool shrug & more.

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NOTES: The black two-piece outfit is from Frank & Eileen, and it’s made from a sweatshirt material. That said, it’s wildly high quality, never bags out, and looks really luxe on. I have this exact set and swear by these pieces for travel too. It’s a really useful set. The Amazon set, however, is under $50 and has great reviews.


Layer: Light Tones In Lightweight Fabric

This is the classic office outfit: trousers, button-up, sweater, done. To make it summer, swap the wool for cotton & linen, the blacks and grays for beige and tan, and look for a sleeveless button-up. Ground the outfit with some playful (yet still office-appropriate) clogs.

Here are 5 outfits to wear to a freezing office that still work in the summer heat (& don't involve a cardigan). Think: light layers (silk, linen), a cool shrug & more.

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NOTES: The 100% cotton sweater is Quince — I have it and LOVE it. Shockingly good, especially for the price. Fits true to size. The white pants are made from LENZING ECOVER, a responsibly made fabric.


Try: A Midi Dress & Cropped Denim Shirt

It’s hard to get proportions right when layering anything over a dress, but in general, it’s best to go either really long or cropped. In this case, a boxy, cropped denim shirt-jacket feels fresh and works perfectly with a midi dress.

Here are 5 outfits to wear to a freezing office that still work in the summer heat (& don't involve a cardigan). Think: light layers (silk, linen), a cool shrug & more.

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NOTES: I own that exact Jenni Kayne dress and the boxy AGOLDE shirt-jacket (1 and 2 in the collage above), and have worn them together numerous times. The proportions are exactly right. The dress is 100% silk, but it’s a durable, textured silk that’s seriously gorgeous in person. And that Quince dress — oddly similar to the Jenni Kayne — is 100% linen.


Add: A Shrug

Shrugs are the unsung heroes in our fight against the cold. Instead of wrecking an outfit (like a cardigan would), shrugs take it in a cool, new direction. I love what a shrug does for a simple denim skirt + tank combo. Inside? Add the shrug. Headed outside for lunch? You’re still left with a cool outfit.

Here are 5 outfits to wear to a freezing office that still work in the summer heat (& don't involve a cardigan). Think: light layers (silk, linen), a cool shrug & more.

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NOTES: Textured tank tops will always look more professional in an office setting, rather than the usual thin cotton ones. And while dark denim is usually more office-appropriate, the lighter blue skirt does have trouser-ish details and would look right at home in many offices (click through to see).


Stay cool out there (and a little warmer in there too).

xo,

S

Here are 5 outfits to wear to a freezing office that still work in the summer heat (& don't involve a cardigan). Think: light layers (silk, linen), a cool shrug & more.

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