Summer Tweed, Winter Tweed — What’s the Difference?

summer-winter-tweedWhat are some guidelines for wearing tweed in the spring and summer?  We talk a lot about “lightweight tweed” — but what the heck is it? (For example: our most recent Suit of the Week.)  Reader C wonders…

I was wondering if you could do a post on tweed — maybe a “Guide to Tweed” or similar. I frequently see you mention “lightweight tweed” for summer, but I’m not sure I actually know what that means. Can light/bright colours bring an otherwise heavier weighted tweed into the summer months? On a more specific note, I recently bought a cropped black and white tweed jacket from BR a little while ago, and I’m wondering if I can wear this well into the summer, or if it is more of a late winter/spring piece. (I couldn’t find a picture of the exact one, but it’s similar to the jacket at this link, just cropped.) Thanks!

Interrrrrresting question, C.  We’ve talked a lot about dressing professionally for summer, including how to avoid looking like a doctor in a white blazerwearing pantyhose in the summer, and fabrics that are good for hot weather … but we’ve never really talked about what makes a summer tweed a “summer tweed.”  (On the flip side, we’ve talked about the propriety of bare legs in winter, and I agree with what I said there re: wearing winter tweed in the summer — it can be seen as a judgment call by your coworkers.)  Now is a great time to talk about it because as spring starts to turn to summer, which tweeds you wear start to matter more and more.

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

Summer Work Clothes: How to Look Professional When It's Hot AF2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on the best summer work clothes and how to look professional when it’s hot— links have also been updated below. You may also want to check out our 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). 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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Pantyhose in the Summer

pantyhose-summerDo you have to wear pantyhose in the summer? The pantyhose-at-the-office question comes up so often, but I don’t think we’ve addressed it in a while — and Reader N wonders…

I had a question about wearing pantyhose. I’m about to start my first internship in finance (a mid-sized hedge fund) this summer and I’m really confused as to what to wear. It’ll be in London, so I don’t know if that changes business formal guidelines. Anyway, I’m 20 years old and a southern girl, and I’ve never worn pantyhose in my life. Is it really necessary to wear pantyhose with a skirt suit, even in the middle of July? I’m tempted to just wear a pant suit the first day and see what everyone else is wearing, but then I’ve heard people say that pantsuits aren’t conservative enough and I should wear a skirtsuit the first day just in case.

Obviously, I have no idea what I’m doing. Oh dear.

Congratulations on your summer internship — it sounds excellent. There is a really big range in what’s acceptable at conservative offices, and so — for my $.02 — it’s always best to get started on the right foot, which is to say the safest foot. You don’t want people’s first impression of you to be of your clothes — you want it to be of your work, your accomplishments. So for the first day — probably even the first week — I would suggest wearing: [Read more…]

“Comfortable Casual” for a Heat Wave

C&C California Bemberg-Sunburst Tie Dye Maxi Tank Dress2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on comfortable casual for a heat wave — but you may also want to check out our more recent post on summer work clothes or our brand new Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Womenicon

How 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…]

What NOT to Wear as an Intern or Summer Associate

Jun46_mini2016 Update: I still agree with all of my advice in this post, but you can also check out our most recent discussion on what not to wear to work here. – Kat

We’ve had a few great conversations on here about summer internships and summer associates (including what not to DO at your internship) and general professional fashion gaffes, but I thought we should have an open thread of advice for all the interns and summer associates starting out this summer. (Pictured: ZooBorns is a new-to-me site featuring baby zoo animal pictures.  The baby lion cub seemed relevant here…)

For my own $.02, here are some tips:

  • DO NOT WEAR SHORTS OR SANDALS OF ANY KIND UNLESS YOU SEE A SUPERIOR DO IT.  Similarly, your first week has probably already passed, but take a look around your office at the women superiors (NOT the other interns): are they wearing pantyhose when they wear skirts?  If they are, do not go bare-legged.
  • How long are your skirts?  Even if you didn’t grow up watching Ally McBeal, far too many skirts that are sold as professional ones are a bit too short for the office.  Check out our diagram and poll on how short is too short for an office skirt.
  • If you wear flip-flops for the commute, get those suckers off the second you get to the office. Going to a cocktail party after work does not count as “commuting” — find shoes that are comfortable to stand in.
  • Assess your hair. I passed a girl on the street yesterday wearing a messy bun on the very tippy-top of her head (a look I wore myself in my early 20s) and thought, “Perhaps she works in a creative field.” My point here: There are a ton of cute ways to pull your hair back on the weekend, but make sure that your casual “need to get my hair out of my face right this instant” look is appropriate for your office culture.  Hint: a low pony-tail works most everywhere; any ponytail or bun that sits higher than your ears may be suspect.
  • If you’re still learning the office culture but you interviewed in a blazer, bring one in to the office. Just a simple black one or white one will do. Then, if you get called to an important meeting at the last minute, throw a blazer on top of whatever you’re wearing.
  • Don’t carry a Birkin or any other accessory or clothing item that suggests that Daddy (or your sugar Daddy) buys you things. As I advised the young woman who wanted to carry her Birkin to her internship:  Even if you’re 100% committed to your career, the first impression you’re making is a negative one, and you may not get a chance to correct it personally with every person who notices.  So don’t do it. [Read more…]

Reader Mail: What to Wear with a White Blazer?

white blazerToday’s reader mail comes from someone curious about what to wear with a white blazer…

I heard that white blazers are very versatile for work, so I purchased one from Banana Republic:  Women: White blazer – White

But I was having trouble matching it up with other clothes (shirts, pants, skirts), because it’s such a stark white, and I can’t really wear white shirts underneath it. Any suggestions? Thank you!

First, we would recommend adopting the policy that, when money and opportunity present themselves, that you always buy all pieces of a matching set.  We used to just buy cardigans, then wish we had the matching shell; the same will inevitably go with this blazer, which has several pairs of pants that match it (one of which is on sale: Women: Jackson sleek wide-leg pant – White).  That said, there are tons of things you can wear with a white blazer that are otherwise not matching.  Gray pants and a black blouse will be spiffed up and made more summery with a white jacket, perhaps with a bold necklace or pair of pumps to add a pop of color (think yellow or red).  The paisley printed blouse we featured earlier today would look great with a navy pencil skirt, accented with a white blazer.  Pretty much any color combination will work — we would even argue that the only one to avoid is black pants and a white shirt, worn with a white blazer, but that’s only because of our general distaste at wearing white and black together in combinations that might get you mistaken for a waiter.  (We understand that may be peculiar to us, though.  We’re working on it.)

The trick with having a versatile white blazer is to make sure that it’s fitted enough, or has enough details, that it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a lab coat.  Avoid boxy shapes at all costs.  A belt, as illustrated in the photograph from Banana Republic, will make it more fitted — it will also let you experiment with brighter, fuller skirts that you otherwise might not be wearing to your job.

Readers, any other tips?

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