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How to Dress for Work During a Heatwave

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

The challenge of living in a country that only has sun for a couple of months of the year is that our wardrobes aren’t geared up for soaring temperatures. The first sight of sun seems to send people into a complete meltdown of stripping off and throwing any sense of style to the wind! The challenge of looking smart and stylish in the heat takes on a whole different meaning when you throw work into that mix especially when office dress codes can be tricky to navigate making what is and what isn’t appropriate even more difficult. Here are my top tips to help you to still look great at work even in the heat of summer.

Shirt dresses and Midi dresses

The shirt dress is hugely versatile in the summer, keeping an element of smart but being comfortable enough not to cling in the heat. Sosandar ( do some great prints, the green snakeskin is my current favourite, pared with flats to navigate the commute and the swapped for heels at the office and after work drinks. Midi dresses are another option that similarly to the shirt dress can be dressed up for work or dressed down with trainers at the weekend, super versatile and work appropriate. Whistles and Rixo do some great midi dresses and I have noticed M&S Autograph (Victoria, London) have some lovely smart dresses in cool fabrics.

Breathable fabrics work every time!

It’s an obvious point but one that often gets forgotten, synthetic fabrics such as nylon, PVC and polyester retain heat making that Tube journey even more hellish! Fabrics such as cotton, silk and linen will help no end to keep cool and collected in the heat, therefore make your choices carefully. M&S have some great linen and cotton blazers in beautiful pastel colours, ‘And other Stories’ for great cotton tops and French Connection for some colourful silky separates. Shorts can be done but only if they are tailored. Dress code permitting shorts can be a nice variation on workwear. You’ll need to make sure they are not too short so a longer length, tailored style will strike the perfect balance between professional and cool. Combine them with a classic cotton shirt or blazer and keep the heel height of your shoes either flat or mid heel.

Ask yourself, is it appropriate?

That strappy vest or see through shirt may look great on an evening out but think about what it’s saying in a work environment? Check your underwear and make sure that it isn’t showing and coloured underwear under white shirts is a huge no.

Leave flip-flops for the beach!

Although undeniably comfortable and having a bit of a fashion moment this year, flip-flops are typically too informal for a work environment. Many businesses state that these aren’t acceptable in the workplace and in some cases they are not a safe footwear choice. There are some beautiful summer shoes that are great with any outfits though and there is plenty of choice in both high street and high-end stores. Top Shop or Selfridges have lots of brands in one place so can be a great place to start. Either a smart sandal or leather mule are a great choice as are a classic pair of nude or white courts and if you’re showing your toes a pedicure is an essential you can’t afford to be without.

A little fake tan never hurt anyone!

It always surprises me when my clients say they are scared of fake tan. Gone are the days of orange fake tans and streaks (I’ve definitely had my fair share). There are some great formulations on the market and major brands are waking up to the need to have ingredients that safe and can be used on a daily basis if necessary. If you’re new to the world of fake tan start with a daily moisturiser that will build up a natural tan, even just taking the stark white look off your legs can make a huge difference. My favourite daily moisturiser tan is either Vita Liberata (sold in Boots) or St Tropez. I’ve recently discovered Isle of Paradise fake tan which goes on as a clear mousse, so no transfer on the bed sheets which is great however, although it’s good, it’s not as fail safe as the other two, so steer clear if you’re new to the world of fake tan.

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