Summer Work Wardrobe

pink jeans

What to wear for work is a question we all face every Monday morning. Do I dress up? Dress down? Full on business attire or relaxed business casual? For many of us the company policy dictates a guideline but even within that, there are many ways to interpret it.

My company has followed a "business casual" policy for years. At the beginning of Q2 this year the company announced their new dressing policy as "Dress for your day". If you are meeting with clients, dress up. If you are back end IT (which is sort of where I fall) you can wear jeans all day, every day. There was much rejoicing (the loudest might have been from me. Goodbye itchy work pants!) After the initial thrill of getting to wear jeans everyday, I was still presented with the same Monday decision "What to wear?" You'd think throwing on jeans and a t-shirt would be easy! As much as I am embracing the new dress for your day culture (I think all companies should adopt this) I still want to look professional. There is a corporate ladder to climb after all! 

summer work wear

Cardigan | Dress vintage | Laptop bag, gift from my employer ( I love this one)

I've included two different work appropriate looks in this blog post to give an idea of where I have landed this summer in trying to dress for the office. Classic shift dresses have always been my go-to but the office is cool in the summer (thanks to blasting A/C) and blazers are just too heavy for the hot summer months. A simple and smart cardigan solved that problem! I recently went through a cardigan purge and after removing anything that looked worn out, had a tear or was missing a button, I was left with nothing. Seriously nothing. Since it was the beginning of summer I opted for this white cardigan knowing that once fall and winter styles are here I can add in a navy, a green and a black option. I was worried that having only one cardigan would get tired really fast but since it's the topper to a variety of colourful dresses, it's actually been great! 

pink jeans for work


As much as I love wearing dresses, there are days when I just want to wear something with more coverage on my legs (mostly because I have a terrible habit of sitting on my foot on my office chair), coloured denim has been a lifesaver on those days. With the old work policy I thought my coloured denim, mostly shades of pink, would be relegated to weekend wear. Not anymore! They work perfectly with polo shirts, blouses and dress shirts in every colour! My dress shirt with black dots looked great with pink denim and blush flats. I also wore these pants with a plain black t-shirt and lots of layered gold necklaces. I have to say, these pink jeans are the number one thing that I get complimented on in the office! I even made a new friend last week while riding the office elevator, she spoke up because she loved my pink jeans!  

summer office dressing

Two very different but equally easy looks for summer office dressing. Personally, I find summer to be the hardest time of year to dress for in the office. While it is incredibly hot once you are outside, it feels like sitting on an iceberg in the office. I like to go for walks over my lunch hour and sometimes it's just so I can warm up! Monday through Wednesday I have to drive The Youngest to a music lesson so just like so many of you, my workday does not end at 5pm. Simple outfits like a patterned shift dress with a cardigan or coloured denim with a blouse work all day long. No need to rush home and change before I turn into a human Uber or head to the grocery store. 

The other three seasons fit well with layers and darker colours but the summer months just scream for splashes of colour. I've talked to a few of the ladies in my office and one of the questions I get asked is how to incorporate more colour into their work wardrobe. I say start in small doses. We North American's have an obsession with wearing black, grey and navy into the office. When your line of work doesn't call for a full professional suit, branch out into lighter colours. White is always a safe bet for shirts and you would be surprised to see how much it lightens your face to have something bright against your skin! The best part is if you buy work clothes that are bright, they can pull double duty as your everyday wear! I made a decision a few years ago to only have one wardrobe. When I buy a new item it must work for work and the weekends. This has helped keep my closet streamlined (and saved me a few dollars in the long run). 

My biggest source of inspiration is nature. Look around you for inspiration. Live near the ocean or a lake? Add some blue and teal to your work wear. The green grass in your neighbourhood can inspire you to add a nice kelly green blouse to your black work pants, or watch the next sunset and pick up some clothing that matches the coral colours you see. Work in a few small doses of colour that work from day to weekend and in no time you'll have a wardrobe that will make you excited to wake up Monday morning and say "What am I going to wear today!" 

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