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5 Tips to Stay Cool on Really Hot Workdays

how to stay cool on hot workdaysDid you hear that the highest temperature in the world last week was an incredible 129°F ? Even if you’re not dealing with crazy record-breaking temperatures like that, you’ve likely been dealing with a hellish commute if you walk, bike, or take public transportation to work. Aside from reveling in the frigid air conditioning once you get to your office, here are a few tips to stay cool on really hot workdays:

1. Use your drink for something other than drinking. Bring a cold can of soda (put it in the freezer for a while) or a frozen bottle of water and roll it on your wrists and other pulse points (here’s a picture pointing them out) when you want to stay cool. Once you’re at work, stop by the restroom to run cold water over your wrists.

2. Hack your commute. If you take public transportation, try to improve the most melty, disgusting portion of your commute. In most of NYC that’s the wait on the subway platform — not the subway ride itself. This may mean making yourself an iced coffee or a frozen bottle of water to take into the subway with you instead of grabbing one at your usual spot near the office; it may mean avoiding the subway entirely and taking the bus. If you can time it right (either with the help of an app or some of the newer MTA stops that tell you how far away your train is) you can wait to descend the subway until a minute or two before your train. (Try MoovitNextStop, or Transit App.) Wear as little makeup as possible so that you don’t smudge it when you’re wiping the sweat off your face, and if you have to/want to wear pantyhose in the summer, pop them in the freezer first, or just put them on at your office.

3. Pack a fan in your bag. It’s funny how a little breeze can make a big difference and help you stay cool when it’s hot, humid, and gross — so get a little battery-operated fan or a paper/wooden folding one (you know, the kind you can get in Chinatown). This one looks like a good bet, while this wearable one is intriguing… This model even has a misting feature — nice! (If the A/C at your office just can’t keep up, you can buy a small one like this for the top of your desk, too.)

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Summer Work Clothes: How to Look Professional When It’s Hot

Summer Work Clothes | Corporette2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on staying cool on a hot day.

What should you wear — and not wear — to look professional (and stay cool) when it’s hot outside?  Which summer work clothes are the best?  We’ve recently gotten two reader questions on the issue.  First up, Reader M wonders:

Hi. I’m 30 years old. I am a rock and roller. Meaning that I work in the music industry. In the past my job was to chaperone the concert site. I was very good at my job. Got a new job in Orlando, FL, that has me now working at a desk. I am now a supervisor. I came into this job in the fall so I had some leftover black wool slacks, nice dark wash denim, and black sweaters to get me through. It’s now almost spring (feels like summer) and I don’t know how to do professional for summer. I work in a business casual environment, which helps. I like to keep all of my color in accents like purses, shoes, scarves, etc. I wear monochromatic. It’s my signature and super versatile when starting a new wardrobe. Can you advise cuts, fabrics, etc. of office appropriate summer wear for a newly professional, young lady like myself that’s trying to beat the heat without looking like a concertgoer?

Reader T also wonders:

I am heading to D.C. from California this summer for a legal externship, and am in need of advice on the dress code in the legal world when it’s 95 degrees. I worked on the Hill for several years and (sadly) recall a lot of flip flops and sundresses during the hotter months. I imagine that this won’t be the case in a legal setting/government agency, but I would love some basic outfit formulas, fabric suggestions (is tweed taboo?), and other ideas for a 30 yr. old to look like a lawyer while fighting the humidity and sticking to a budget.

In terms of outfit formulations, my go-to looks are boring, but they’re classic for a reason: think sheath dresses plus a blazer (to be added once you’re inside), and nice, lightweight trousers (look for cotton or cotton blends) with a nice tee and a classic pair of pumps (and ideally a matching blazer). (Pictured: Cole Haan Air Carma Open Toe Pump, on sale at Zappos for $169.99 (was $275).) As we’ve noted before, natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and linen are going to breathe a lot more than non-natural fabrics, so do pay attention to that when buying new pieces.  (Also: pay attention to the laundry instructions. That $20 pair of pants starts to look less appealing — and less of a deal — when they start to smell to high heaven after two wears and the only way to launder them is to get them drycleaned.)

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“Comfortable Casual” for a Heat Wave

C&C California Bemberg-Sunburst Tie Dye Maxi Tank DressiconHow do you dress professionally for a heat wave? I got an emergency email from a reader, who noted that given the heat wave here in NYC her BigLaw firm has told her she’s free to dress “comfortable casual” (but not in denim) for the duration of the week. Given that the firm is already “business casual,” she’s a bit perplexed.  (Pictured:  Cute, but probably not what the firm had in mind, despite the number of maxi dresses that Bloomingdale’s has on sale right now.  This one was $138, now marked to $82. C&C California Bemberg-Sunburst Tie Dye Maxi Tank Dress)

This is a new phrase to me, but here’s my advice to any woman told that this week: I would stay the course and wear your usual “business casual” to work until you see your female superiors dressing differently. My guess is that this email is intended for the men, who may now be able to include polo shirts, short-sleeved shirts, and khaki pants in the mix. (To any male summer associates who are reading this blog: I’d be shocked — shocked! — if this email was the firm’s way of encouraging you to wear shorts to work during the week.)

I’m curious to hear what the readers say about this, but my attitude is that if you’re dressing properly for summer (for “business casual”) that most women are already sitting pretty, whether it’s Hot or Very Very Hot. For example: [Read more…]

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