Unquestionably, the pandemic has ripped up the rulebook on what counts as acceptable attire in the office. What is in question, however, is how the new rules pertain in the midst of a searing heatwave.
Can you, as the leaders of the G7 recently did, ditch the tie? The suit, even? Are shorts considered passable in such extremes? And what about footwear? Here’s our guide to help you cut through the dress code haze.
Embrace city shorts
Unless your employer has a strict dress code, city shorts – tailored and cut on or just above the knee – are an elegant way to keep cool. The American fashion designer Thom Browne is a master of the look, for men and women, but the high street has plenty of options, too.
Wear natural fibres
Fortunately, temperature-regulating linen is having a (sustainable) fashion moment, with many womenswear brands offering their take on the wide-leg linen trouser suit, including Marks & Spencer, Mint Velvet and Zara.
Meanwhile, M&S has a range of silk and linen suiting for men, and John Lewis has linen suits and linen-cotton blend shirts. Cotton and silk are also your heatwave allies – with silk, look for seersucker or patterned pieces, which will be better at concealing any sweaty creases.
Wear more casual footwear
Tempting as it may be when the weather is hot, the sockless loafer for men is just all too Philip Green in Monaco. If your office permits a smart trainer, we would recommend Common Projects’ sleek, minimal style.
Grenson’s Quincy, a smart, hand-painted calf leather sandal, has a substantial look that wouldn’t feel out of place in a workplace. Women may want to opt for slingbacks and mules – not only do they expose more of the foot, they’re easier to kick off under the desk.
Your rule of thumb for your heatwave office outfit is that anything you would wear to the beach is most likely going to be inappropriate for the workplace. Save flip-flops, jelly sandals, kaftans, short shorts and crop tops for the seaside.
Wear more pieces than you need to
For women, why confine yourself within separates when a loose dress will allow air to flow more freely around you? Do you need to wear sleeves, even? A sleeveless dress will avert the possibility of sweat patches.
Wear vest tops
They’re lightweight, on-trend and a summer staple – for men and for women. But in the office, they come across as more vest than top. The vest top sits clearly on the wrong side of the line for acceptable casualwear in the workplace.