As temperatures start to rise, our work wardrobe needs a few tweaks to keep us looking great and feeling cool (literally), while also staying appropriate for the office. Not sure how to proceed? Not to worry.

Here are some tips on what to wear in the office during the summer.

Summer wear general tips

While the flip flops and cut-off shorts should be reserved for the beach, you can still rock some fun summer trends and look totally chic! Before you start worrying about your bank account, adapting your wardrobe for the summer does not need to be costly. The trick is to invest in some chic summer basics, which you can mix and match with accessories and footwear.

When making these first purchases, keep fabrics in mind. In the hotter summer months, you will want to wear breathable, lighter weight pieces in silk, cotton, or linen blends. Remember, you can always add layers, like a cardigan or blazer (especially if the air conditioner is blasting)!

Must-haves for your summer office wardrobe

When buying wardrobe staples, it’s often a good idea to buy multiples (budget permitting). I often do this so that I always have something in rotation, even on laundry days. Another good tip is to find a cut and style that works well for you then buy it in a few colours. This makes getting ready for work in the morning much quicker.

Summer wardrobe basics for the ladies:
  • A white, button down blouse with some detail (ruffle, lace, or embroidery). Opt for a 3/4 or short sleeve and choose a slim fit with darting. This always creates a flattering silhouette and will be your go-to top to pair with your skirts, crop pants, and suiting.
  • A pleated midi skirt in a pastel or a neutral like black or grey. This is the new pencil skirt for the office, and not a fleeting trend. You will be able to take this skirt into the fall with closed-toe footwear and a heavier weight top, but you can also pair it now with a silk shell and a simple wedge sandal.
  • Shirtdress in a cotton blend. The perfect canvas for any workday look. To spruce it up, add accessories like a statement necklace, or swap out the fabric belt that generally comes with these dresses for a skinny style in a patent leather.
  • Cropped trousers in a soft hue, like dove grey or a pastel. These will mix and match with your lightweight blouses and can easily be topped with a linen blazer or 3/4 sleeve cardigan if the air conditioning in the office is too intense.
  • A silk tank top in a bright colour like pink or yellow. This is the perfect piece to layer under your crop blazer and pencil skirt to give your outfit a little pop of colour.

Pleaded midi skirt

And for the men:
  • A check short sleeve shirt. Opt for a cotton lightweight button down, which you can then layer under your blazer and wear with chinos or khakis.
  • A casual soft hue suit. A tailored style in a muted tone like beige or grey will mix and match with all your summer office wear basics. Avoid a heavy weight wool blend so you don’t overheat.
  • Khaki pants in a tailored style, no cargo pants or pleats please! These should still look work appropriate, which will let you pair them with your fitted shirts and loafers.
  • Cognac or brown footwear in a very simple sleek almond-toe shape. You can pair these with all of your summer suits and slacks. They will lighten up your look, as a heavy black shoe is more suited for winter months.
  • Pastel collared shirts in a few different colours, like mint green and lavender. Soft colours instantly update your summer look and will easily work with any darker suits that you already have in your wardrobe.

What to wear to the office in the summer

Now that we have the basics covered, we can have some fun with summer fashion trends. They key is to wear one or two pieces at a time, especially at the office. Otherwise your ensemble can end up looking tacky and distracting, which is never work appropriate.

Summer trends to rock at the office for the gals
  • Bright accessories like a hot pink bag, or bold yellow pair of earrings, will give your look some pop.
  • Lace details; look for pretty blouses and skirts to give your look a sweet feminine touch.
  • Block heels. The bonus is they are super comfy too!
  • Choose a sleek silver skinny belt or a gold cuff to give your look a little bit of edge.
  • Florals. A classic sheath dress in a fun floral will amp your day up, plus it can be worn to a dinner date after work!

A floral sheath dress

Summer trends to rock at the office for the guys
  • Pink (yes pink). Try a bold pink button down to give your work wardrobe a needed punch of colour.
  • Printed dress socks. Anything from stripes to polka dots can add a little fun to your ensemble.
  • A metallic tie. Go for a simple thin style with a metallic shine for a chic look.
  • A pocket square in a fun summer print (think pineapples or palm trees)!
  • Go monochromatic in a head-to-toe grey, navy, or beige. This will look fashion forward and is a major trend for men this summer.

Happy summer y’all! I hope my tips help you look and feel cool during these hot summer months!



Natalie Sexton is a fashion stylist, professional makeup artist, and blogger. For more than a decade, Natalie’s passion for fashion and all things girly have been the driving force behind her Canadian-made brand of “Sexton in the City” Makeup, Clothing & Accessories. She can be seen regularly on CTV’s THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW, where she breaks down the latest fashion trends for viewers. For more information on Natalie Sexton, visit You can also follow Natalie on Twitter @SextonNTheCity.

*Images via Natalie Sexton Pinterest*