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Ask A Baltimore Expert: Dressing For Work During The Summer Heat

Dress for success despite the hot weather with these five summer fashion tips for men and women from Linell Ellis handbags owner Linell Jackson.

Linell Jackson
Linell Ellis
(301) 572-2119

Giorgio Armani - Runway - summer suit MFW S/S 2014
(Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images).

Finding stylish summer attire that is both fashionable and office appropriate can be a challenge. While the hotter temperatures and sunshine may have you reaching for shorts, tank tops or flip-flops in the morning, these all top the list of inappropriate business wear.

Instead of sweating a run-in with Human Resources, Linell Jackson, owner and creative director of Linell Ellis, has the answers to keep you feeling and looking "cool" in the office this summer. As a leader of the greater Baltimore area and Washington D.C.'s fashion scene since 1999 and the designer of an upscale handbag and accessory collection, Ms. Jackson's work has been recognized by fashion magazines as well as by the entertainment industry during events such as the American Music Awards and Video Music Awards.

She recommends these five fashion tips for business professionals seeking to balance the air-conditioned office with the humid outdoors, while still sporting the top styles and colors of the season.

Wear Clothing That Is A Perfect Fit

"You've worked hard all winter to get into summer shape; however, it is still important to wear your correct size and avoid midriff-bearing tops. Clothing that is too tight is not appropriate for the office. If the clothing is an investment piece that is not easily replaced, then alterations are your friend. You can always get it taken in or let out at the tailors."

Velsvoir X Patrick Hellmann - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014
(Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Fashion Forward)

Layering Is Key

"Dresses are perfect for summer but always have a jacket or sweater to layer on top for important meetings and when the air conditioning is running high. Layering is important for men too, especially if they are in an environment where it's business casual. A polo might be acceptable, but if you're suddenly called into a business meeting, you should always have a sport or suit jacket to go with your outfit.

There are two different trends to expect this summer: the pastel and floral trends, but also bright colors like fuchsia, bright greens and blues. So although for business attire you never want to go over the top, from a layering perspective, you can "push the envelope" on the bottom half or the top half, but not all over."

Nihan Peker: Runway - MBFWI Presented By American Express Fall/Winter 2014
(Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for IMG)

The Pencil Skirt Is Your Friend

"Not too short and always in style, the pencil skirt allows you to capitalize on summer floral trends and bright colors without going over the top. For men, it's the staple dress pant. Black pants are always a must-have on hand. However in the summer particularly, a grey or tan/khaki pair is ideal as a lot of offices will fall back to more business casual attire."

Related: Best Places In Baltimore For Office Wear

peep toe shoe, sandals
(Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Invest In The Perfect Shoe

"A women can get away with three to five pairs of shoes in the summer for business attire. The sling back is very popular since you can get half of a sandal feel, or kitten heels, which are short, one-inch high heels that are perfect for walking around town and worn often by Michelle Obama. Open-toe pumps are also great for the summer, but you'll still want your traditional black pumps. Summer shoes for men may be a loafer shoe, but it still needs to be leather and professional looking.

Colors are the other element to consider – in the summer, a light or nude color works well, in addition to a color. We see a lot of reds, which some women are uncomfortable with, but when you pair them with more traditional clothing, it works really well."

colorful handbag
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Use Handbags And Accessories To Accentuate Colors

"These items allow you to show your personality in an office setting while celebrating the beautiful colors of summer. For work, the hobo (like a tote bag) or satchel are great options since you can carry a lot of stuff in them, including your laptop and work papers along with your personal essentials. But I also recommend putting a clutch handbag inside for when you go out later and want to leave the bigger bag behind.

As for material, canvas is a trendy fabric because it's lighter and gives off a summer, beach feel. Another option is leather, which is easier to clean and can be used across all seasons."

Related: Best Places For Men's Accessories In Baltimore

Keri Ann Beazell is a Baltimore writer following the latest developments in arts and culture, natural wonders, lifestyle and pets. She enjoys promoting thought-provoking discussions, education, new ideas and smiles among readers. Follow her online at and

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