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

Summer in Boston can be tricky. Many walk like zombies through 90-degree underground T stations, only to be greeted with unreliable air conditioning once on the train. After sweating all the way to work, people sit down in their offices and start to freeze. No matter the weather, office buildings often stay at a brisk 67-70 degrees, which may seem warm in the winter months, but after being outside in the scorching heat, you'll be reaching for your sweater. So how do we go about dressing for the summer months? The office/outside variations don't even touch on the often rapid weather changes we see in New England. Here to help us sort through this and offer tips on dressing smarter for summer is Suzanne Lewis, a web designer and style blogger from Beacon Hill.

Suzanne Lewis
Co-founder of Just Us Gals Boston

As a web designer, Suzanne has a lot of freedom to work at home or at coffee shops, but occasionally she does have to go into a client's office for meetings and presentations. This requires trekking through the city in all types of weather. Today, she is sharing her tricks for staying cool and looking fab in the summer heat.

(Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Sava Nald)

Have Quick, Comfortable Work Staples on Hand

Non-wrinkle blouses, cap-sleeve tops or a thick-strapped tank with a blazer or cardigan are easy go-tos. Comfort is key in the summer, so having a wardrobe with a few essentials always available makes it easy to dress quickly and save time. Knowing the weather forecast and having these pieces on hand ensure a stress-free morning.

"For summer I try to stick to blouses and flowy skirts/dresses," Suzanne says. "It's difficult, but I also refuse to buy 'work clothes' and try to always buy things that I really feel comfortable in and can see myself wearing even on days when I don't have client meetings."

(Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Know The Dress Code

Just because it's hot out, doesn't mean you can get away with wearing just anything at a business meeting. It's important to keep in mind the following when dressing for work:

  • nothing see-through
  • nothing too short
  • nothing over-branded
  • dress smexy - smart and sexy. You don't have to dress like a man to feel confident.
  • no flip flops

Pack Accessories & Layers

Wear something light for walking or riding to work, and then put on a blazer or scarf for a more professional appearance once you get to the office. Packing a stick of deodorant; an absorbent face powder and sunglasses may also be helpful. If need be, you can commute in workout gear and pack your work outfit to change into closer to the venue of your meeting. This is why having no-wrinkle work clothing is important - it is much easier to pack! Plus, "Always have a scarf or light jacket on hand for the AC!"

Related: Boston's Best Electronic Bands

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Wear Dress Sandals, When Appropriate

On the hottest days, you can avoid wearing heels or dress shoes by wearing a high-quality, professional-looking pair of sandals instead. Look for thicker straps in black or brown and avoid anything too sparkly. Wearing sandals can be risky in some work environments though, so take note on the types of footwear worn by other well dressed people in your office. In the art and design community, more casual styles are more accepted, but in financial or legal fields, you may want to stick with a more conservative shoe.

Build a Collection of Shifts

Shift dresses are both loose and flattering, making them the perfect summer outfit choice. "I've been gravitating to shift dresses recently, I think they are super feminine but not overly sexy," Lewis says. "They are also effortless so you never have to be fixing / rearranging stuff when you walk or get up from a chair."

Related: Boston's Best Interior Designers

Cameron Bruns is the founder of and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston's North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on

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